Sucks to Be You
Being a human TOTALLY RULES!
Mankind has it made. We are truly leading the good life what with our cerebral cortex, opposable thumbs, complex languages, long term memory, and heat vision. Technically only Superman has heat vision, and yes, technically he is from Krypton and isn't human, but I think he's lived on earth long enough to be human by association. In addition to the incredible biological toolkit put at our disposal by evolution - or Odin if you happen to be a Viking - we have developed cultures and technologies intended to make our lives as easy as possible.
We've got DVDs, CDs, microwaves, air-conditioning, shotguns, automobiles, and the Blue Collar Comedy Tour to further increase the mind-numbing pleasure we experience at almost all times. What other species can make such claims? Maybe dolphins, but that's a big maybe, and they're the only other ones. Mankind has Netflix and Grande Lattes, grasshoppers are the prey of almost every type of bird and face starvation if too many of them are born in a given year. Mankind has Real Dolls and the Space Shuttle, raccoons eat our garbage and hope a stray dog doesn't catch them in the dumpster and decide to eat their head. Even man's best friend has been reduced to chowing down on processed horse rectums and performing tricks for our amusement in exchange for flavorless biscuits. Some people might try to tell you that their dog is a part of the family, but how many dogs do you think made it onto lifeboats on the Titanic? Five, tops.
I'm not going to get all mushy and PETA on you, but there are some animals that have an even worse lot in life than most. I would like to devote this update to these sadsacks of nature. It's a sympathetic tribute to the animals that have it so bad they should probably look forward to their ultimate extinction.
Probably the most frequent victim of mankind's casual sadism is the common ant. We force agrarianism onto them for our amusement. Our children stomp them, destroy their colonies, and use a wide variety of implements to inflict grievous injury and death on their populations. Even historically the ant has been used or manipulated by mankind. We turned to them when we designed our great hive cities of the West Coast and whenever we needed an unwanted cowboy to be disposed of all we had to do was bury him up to his neck near an ant hill. Many scientists hypothesize that collectively ants form a greater intelligence than most mammals, possibly making them even smarter than retarded humans, babies, and the elderly. The fact that ant colonies may be surprisingly intelligent when taken as a whole makes our abuses of the ant community all the more terrible.
Ant love affairs combine all the tragedy of Romeo & Juliet with a giant magnifying glass.
When a human pours boiling water down an ant hill and kills hundreds of ants do the survivors truly understand the suffering of their kin and the monumental loss inflicted on the colony? Do the ants despair when their ant queen dies? Are there ever ant uprisings when working conditions become intolerable? Can ants really sing or is that atonal humming sound they make when they're nesting in your ear canal just a byproduct of their movement? Do ants appreciate the quality gradations in the picnics they ruin? Do they prefer one pair of pants over another? Do they have high hopes when it comes to moving rubber tree plants?
Science may some day have the answers to these age-old questions. Until then, try to treat ants with a little bit of respect and maybe next time you're disposing of a cowboy you can dismember him and feed him down the garbage disposal rather than dumping your problems on the ants to solve.
The Beef Cow
Cows are big, exceptionally stupid, and would probably be extinct if it weren't for mankind. Honestly, how many wild cows have you seen lately? Even horses bust out once in a while and manage to scrape by. The only time you read about escaped cattle is when a pack of fifty of them wanders onto an interstate and causes a pileup. Instead of facing extinction cows are flourishing as a species thanks to their sweet and/or succulent flesh. A few lucky cows get off with being dairy cows, and although their lives are far from comfortable they certainly don't qualify for this list. For the rest it's the slaughterhouse.
A couple cows stand around worrying that they will be killed for kosher or halal meat.
What makes being a cow so shitty? I think the single most meaningful reason for why being a cow sucks so bad is that until recently cows ate other cows. All of the parts of a cow that weren't delicious enough to at least make it into dog food were being recycled back into the cattle feed. After a few dozen generations of this the cows started going crazy and falling all over and generally being spazzes. Angry spazzes that tended to die really quickly. Whoops, we done baked up a muffin tin full of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, which bears a striking resemblance to the cannibal disease Kuru and can be transmitted to humans who eat the infected meat. Haha, I know, seemed like a good idea at the time.
Even luckier than your average beef cattle are your veal cattle. These are actually adorable baby cows that are intentionally crippled and force fed a high-fat diet to produce more delicious meat. Veal calves are also menaced with flashing lights and fire because fear further sweetens their flesh. Don't try to tell me it doesn't suck to be a cow.
Imagine that you spend years and years building a house, only to discover that most other people living nearby find your house to be delicious and keep tearing rooms off to eat. Then imagine that your only means of defending this house is a gun that shoots you whenever you shoot someone else. Congratulations, you've taken your first step towards understanding the endless hell of existence that bees endure.
Bees are Mother Nature's shit basket.
Nature gave bees the vital job of pollinating flowers and then repaid them for doing this by having them make their houses out of sugar. Their suicidal sting is a further indignity.
You can purchase 50 mealworms in a little paper cup full of sawdust for $1.99 at a pet store near my parent's house. I'm sure the right kind of person could come up with some truly dire uses for 50 mealworms, but the reason my parents buy them is to feed their turtles. The interesting thing about the mealworms is that they can be stored almost indefinitely in the refrigerator. The cold air shuts down their metabolism and puts them in a sort of suspended animation. When you throw them into the warm water the turtles are living in it takes about five seconds for them to wake up. It takes between ten and twenty seconds for the turtles to begin eating the mealworms.
Being a mealworm TOTALLY EATS SHIT!
That's quite an existence these mealworms have. Imagine that you're sitting in a big sawdust filled colony with you and your buds, just chilling out and being fat and hideous looking, when suddenly a big plastic scoop descends on you. You've heard about it through the grapevine but until now you've never seen the scoop up close. Before your simplistic nervous system can process what is happening you and 49 of your closest friends are riding the scoop express to the paper cup hotel. You and your buddies are just settling in to your new and much more modest digs when it starts getting cold. The cold makes you sleepy and the world around you begins to fade. Then you're awake. Warmth, floating, what is this wet stuff all around you? Hey, look at that big green thing! OH BUG GOD IT HURTS!
The lucky mealworms end their existence sliding down the gullet of a turtle in three or four pieces. The unlucky ones drown first. I don't really know what a mealworm in nature would grow up to be - based on how ugly they are I'm imagining a moth creature that looks like a skinless miniature vulture with wet leathery batwings - but they probably deserve better.
I think it's important to recognize that being an animal sucks really badly, because it can create a bridge of empathy between animals and humans. You know that squirrel that eats out of your bird feeder every other day and pisses you off? Don't be so mad at him, because his day is ten times worse than yours. He probably had a frantic life-or-death chase with a dog before you even rolled out of bed and ate a bagel. While you're half-heartedly masturbating to a TBS edit of "Wild Things" that squirrel is half frozen to death trying to stockpile his precious nuts for winter. The worst day in your life, where you were seconds away from murder and/or suicide, was still half as bad as the best day that squirrel has ever had.