Jewish World Review July 1, 2002 / 21 Tamuz, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Where's my cow? | A medical student at Stanford returned home to his native Kenya recently, where he broke the news of the attack on the World Trade Center to his Masai village. The Masai, being unwired, had not heard. In a very touching gesture, his village decided to give the United States fourteen cows, the cow being much prized apparently in Masai culture, as it is in ours, I suppose, in a sense, at least by fast food chains.

The United States ambassador accepted the cows on behalf of the American people, according to the Associated Press, and then returned them in exchange for traditional Masai goods, including a beaded American flag.

Now, I'm sure the Masai handicrafts will look good in the Smithsonian, or under glass at the George W. Bush Library, sandwiched between a battered Rolodex and a bag of his Dad's pork rinds. But, I for one, think those cows might have come in mighty handy.

Certainly there are shipping problems involved. I don't know if the United Parcel Service has boxes that big, and I don't know where the cows would be shipped, if it did. The addition of a small herd of cattle roaming the grounds would give the White House a more folksy image. On the other hand, if President Bush had a small herd of cattle on the lawn, it probably would not enhance his reputation in Europe, which already seems to see him as a clueless cowboy. Still, even there, if President Bush right now is "All hat, no cattle," as they say, even fourteen cows would go a long way to correcting that impression.

Failing that, I'd be more than happy to take those cows off the hands of the bureaucrats myself. Who could object? Other than the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or the loons who believe that global warming is caused by cattle flatulence, some of whom, come to think of it, may be advisers to the President.

Because a return to the barter system might be a good thing right now. If public utilities, for example, gave us each a cord of wood in the winter, in exchange for a trinket or a sheep, we might all be better off.

And true, maybe cows are a bit cumbersome, but I like the idea of expressing sympathy or gratitude by offering some kind of edible beast.

As a matter of fact, The exchange of small edible beasts, that might be the ticket to a whole new economy-- we would eliminate the need for sales tax, the Internal Revenue Service, accountants, accounting firms, money laundering, chicanery, fraud-- unless somebody pastes chicken feathers on a pigeon, and tries to pass it off. The jails would empty, lawyers would go out of business, and money managers would be panhandling on the street-- Will Handle Your Portfolio for Food. As a consequence, of course the global economy would collapse, but at least I might get a cow out of the deal. Frankly, that's a lot more than I have right now.

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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


06/24/02: Modern record stores can be a scary proposition
06/21/02: Life IS a movie?
06/19/02: Spreading fertilizer on a dictionary to try to raise a novel
06/17/02: Happy cows are really miserable?
06/12/02: Very similar to a rock
06/05/02: Of Humice and Men
05/30/02: Pooches in sharkskin suits and the end of dog tags
05/22/02: We baby boomers used to rule the roost
05/20/02: The Files now Ex
05/14/02: Entangled in Spider-Man's web!?
05/02/02: April Showers May Come Our Yadda Yadda
04/24/02: From child murderer to milk hawker
04/10/02: New realities
03/21/02: You did it your way? I have to kill you now!
03/12/02: Life in the warehouse
01/28/02: Shoes and food
01/24/02: Suspension of disbelief has nothing to do with whether we accept something as real or not
01/22/02: Save the Grand Ole Opry?
12/15/01: If you truly want to appeal to the lowest common denominator
12/11/01: KNITTING!
12/07/01: Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby?
12/04/01: The future of comic books
11/15/01: Literary tips in a jar
11/12/01: The ectoplasm of a ghost economy
11/05/01: Sumner Redstone's passions
10/31/01: My irony
10/29/01: Even in wartime, America can still bring it home
10/25/01: Ad memories
10/17/01: Pathetic me
10/08/01: War time lite
10/01/01: Confessions of a sarcastic scribe
09/11/01: The end of Mom
09/07/01: Boy Loses Girl, Boy Bites Girl, Boy Gets Girl
09/05/01: Virtual elegance?
08/28/01: Buzz!
08/23/01: Radio workout
08/20/01: I robot, you Jane
08/15/01: A wild and crazy world!
08/10/01: When the future was "as real as a dime"
08/08/01: Garage Dearth!
08/06/01: That Big Clock
08/02/01: Stop the pop!
07/31/01: Catchphrase history of the world
07/26/01: The Bride of Science
07/23/01: That java jive
07/17/01: Homogenized hegemony
07/13/01: Applying Newton's First Law of Physics to textbooks
07/10/01: The dumb and the dead

© 2001, Ian Shoales