The New York Times exposes the corrupt and dangerous world of horse racing  »

An NYT must-read and must-watch:

Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys: The new economics of horse racing are making an always-dangerous game even more so, as lax oversight puts animal and rider at risk.

Shit is fucked!:

On average, 24 horses die each week at racetracks across America. Many are inexpensive horses racing with little regulatory protection in pursuit of bigger and bigger prizes. These deaths often go unexamined, the bodies shipped to rendering plants and landfills rather than to pathologists who might have discovered why the horses broke down.

In 2008, after a Kentucky Derby horse, Eight Belles, broke two ankles on national television and was euthanized, Congress extracted promises from the racing industry to make its sport safer. While safety measures like bans on anabolic steroids have been enacted, assessing their impact has been difficult because many tracks do not keep accurate accident figures or will not release them.

But an investigation by The New York Times has found that industry practices continue to put animal and rider at risk. A computer analysis of data from more than 150,000 races, along with injury reports, drug test results and interviews, shows an industry still mired in a culture of drugs and lax regulation and a fatal breakdown rate that remains far worse than in most of the world.

All for this “sport.” I encourage you to read the rest


Get it together and stop killing horses, HBO’s “Luck”  »

HBO has a new show called Luck. It’s about horse-racing, a “sport” I understand has been losing popularity for decades and is probably still around because it, like dog-racing, is legal to bet on in states where gambling is only otherwise legal in Indian casinos. Which speaks very highly of it as a “sport,” right? Definitely you want to be in a place people frequent because of the opportunities to gamble while wearing enormous hats presents.

Luck is a show about a dying American pastime made even weirder by the vernacular specific to this pastime that, because it’s dying, very few viewers of the show understand. Have you read the internet during the past six weeks? Everyone who talks about television is all, “Oh Luck, the dialog is impenetrable and the actors are all individually and specifically creepy and threatening, and the last show its creator made was also a thematic mess, but he also did Deadwood and HBO means ‘Serious Television Business,’ so we’re going to pretend to love it! Horses!”

My first point is, you’re probably not watching Luck, and you shouldn’t, because it’s nonsense. If you are, though, you may have noticed that in place of the standard “No animals were harmed” notation in the credits, there’s a line that says “The American Humane Association Monitored the animal action.” That’s because animals were harmed during the filming of this television show, specifically two horses, which actually suffered such serious injuries they had to be euthanized. No, I don’t know why veterinary medicine hasn’t solved fatal horse injuries; it seems awfully 19th century to still be putting horses down when they break their legs, right?

HBO tells the New York Observer that yeah it was totally tragic that we got those horses killed, but after the second one died we “suspended production” to figure out how not to kill any more horses while filming our television show about this shitty sport that fucking wrecks horses specifically bred to be fucking wrecked and that no one except the people involved in their wrecking gives a fuck about—that is, they’ve “adopt[ed] additional protocols specifically for horse racing sequences” and they’re earning that AHA-trademarked “No animals were harmed” line that will appear in future episodes’ credits.

Sorry two horses had to die before you figured your shit out, HBO and the producers of Luck, but you’ve got David Milch and he’s a genius! And horse racing was once upon a time the sport of kings or whatever. So you’ve got that going for you.

[photo of (Brazilian!) horses by Eduardo Amorim via Flickr]


Hello, friends! It’s WTF Wednesday!  »

Today’s WTF Wednesday is brought to you by the power of the all-nighter. I’m telling you guys, my brief love affair with Vicodin last week really put me out of commission. So much so, that when I began reading over my hour-long presentation about crises in psychotherapy for this afternoon I realized that all I had done was fill an entire PowerPoint file with photos of Miley Cyrus and Paris Hilton. I’m sure I had some kind of master plan—mainly because I left some cryptic notes such as “lol here!” and “Yes, that is where this joke goes!” in the outline—but unfortunately I am now only on copious amounts of Ibuprofen, which makes accessing the part of my psyche that came up with this plan completely impossible. Before I start weeping and rewriting, I thought I’d bring you all the latest fuckery happening on the internet this week.

First up, horses. The Breeder’s Cup just finished. This by itself is a giant WTF! Who ever decided that it would be a good idea to put tiny little men on top of horses and then race them around a track for shits and giggles? Was it the same person who decided that the best way we could get in touch with bulls was by dressing up in a stupid costume and stabbing them as they charged at us? What is the appeal of horse racing? Is it the giant hats that the ladies wear? The sinking realization that you’ve lost Junior’s college fun on a horse named “Life at Ten”? Or is it the cruelty of putting horses through their paces, forcing them to go faster and faster around a never-ending ring as they compete for a prize they will never get to enjoy? Is it the drugs? I’m about 200 percent certain that the horses aren’t interested.
Actually, I am about 300 percent certain that horses would prefer that you not climb upon their back and squeeze their sides to make them gallop. Maybe if you gave them a choice, but I doubt it. You know how I know that? When I was 12, my brother had an ear infection. Because my parents are fairly hysterical people who raised fairly hysterical sons, we took him to the emergency room. I was not allowed to stay home alone because three years previous, I had tried to bake a cake by microwaving a bowl of dry fruit loops. As you may imagine, the wait in the emergency room was horrible. I had quickly finished both my Phyllis Reynolds Naylor as well as the Baby-Sitters Club Super Special I had brought along and was looking around for someone to bother. Just then, a girl burst wailing into the waiting room, followed by her parents. Her hand was bleeding profusely and her mother was screaming “A horse bit her! A horse bit her!” at anyone who would care to listen.
“What happened?” asked the nurse behind the desk.
“She was riding the horse,” the girl’s mother screamed. “And when she got off, it turned around and bit her in the hand!”
“I didn’t even want to go on the horse!” the girl screamed back. “They made me! Child abuse!”
And that’s how I know horses don’t like to be ridden.

Have we talked about dogs lately? Have you heard about the dogs they’re dropping out of planes into Afghanistan? No, this isn’t another opiate-fueled hallucination; U.K. special forces are actually parachuting German Shepherds into Afghanistan with cameras attached to their heads. Have we asked anyone how dogs feel about this? I mean, if they feel humiliated being dressed up, I’m sure they’re scared shitless jumping out of a plane with some dude strapped to their back. The dogs are sent in to look for insurgents and are trained to attack anyone that is armed. Not surprisingly, eight dogs have died this way. The official response has been something like, “Well, that would have been eight of our men, so…” Ugh, you idiots! Those dogs ARE eight of your men. And I’m sure they won’t be receiving any medals of honor. I don’t even know what to say about this except to wonder why this isn’t against any kind of animal cruelty laws. These animals are literally being sent to their deaths! This isn’t the first time we humans are pulling shit like this. During World War II, the Russian army had an entire program dedicated to training dogs with explosives attached to themselves to run under enemy tanks and explode! It was so ineffective, it actually killed some Russian human soldiers! I don’t even know how to comment on this because it is making me angry just thinking about it and since it is late at night I should probably avoid yelling at my computer screen, so let’s move on!

Here’s some exciting news. All that science stuff we’ve been learning in school and hearing about on the news has finally proven to be useful. We now know which animal has the biggest testicles! I hate to spoil the surprise for you, but I’m going to have to reveal that it is the bush cricket! Yes! Did you even know such a thing existed? Did you think, at first, that it was someone’s porn name? I did!! Surprise: in this country, we call it the katydid. Sounds a lot less pervy now. This insect (insect!) has testicles that make up 14 percent of its body weight. OH MY GOD! That would be six kilograms per testicle on a human! How does this thing manage to fly? Who cares how it manages to fly though, because it manages to fu FORNICATE just fine! And in quick succession! With several females! This is amazing. I want to be a bush cricket when I grow up. Or am reincarnated. Sex, Larvae, and Rock ‘n Roll, baby!

That’s all for this week. Please send me links for next week, or leave them in the comments. Have an awesome Wednesday!

[photo of wee donkey by Saparevo; photo of great green bush-cricket via wikipedia]

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