News Release –Department of Environmental Conservation February 6, 2018
Contact: Celia Riechel Department of Environmental Conservation 802-477-2669 [email protected]
Montpelier – A typical tourist trip to Vermont might include hiking on the Long Trail, skiing at one of our many resorts, fishing for wild brook trout, visiting a farm, and sampling some of the finest cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. People come to Vermont because it represents a vibrant counterpoint to the narrative, so prevalent elsewhere, that agriculture and the environment cannot coexist. Here in Vermont, environmental and agricultural excellence can be mutually reinforcing.
The Sustainable Dairy Products: Northeast Summit, to be held February 12th in Norwich, will dive into effective strategies to strengthen businesses by going green. The Summit will provide a comprehensive look at energy efficiency, wastewater, cleaning/sanitation, and pollution prevention, and bring together experts, organizations, and other resources to help dairy processors flourish economically and environmentally.
“No industry better exemplifies the importance of getting environment, agriculture, and economy right than the dairy industry, which accounts for 7% of the Vermont economy. Building on the continued effort of the industry, we will see even greater results,” said Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (AAFM).
Value-added dairy products like cheese and yogurt are a growing sector in Vermont. Many new manufacturers are emerging, and many farmers are exploring value-added products as a source of additional revenue to help maintain the viability of family farms. “As dairy products businesses start and grow, they face many questions about how to reduce their environmental impact through best practices and compliance,” said Tom Bivins, Executive Director of the Vermont Cheese Council. The Summit will help answer those questions and will show how even smaller operations have opportunities to cut waste and adopt more sustainable production methods that save money.
The Summit is one example of how Vermont’s state agencies are reaching out to help food manufacturers. It is part of a growing partnership between the Agency of Natural Resources and AAFM that reflects the interdependence of agricultural, environmental, and economic prosperity, and the importance of environmentally sustainable operations that strengthen the Vermont brand.
Processors in nearby states are invited to the Summit. “Vermont is a nationally-recognized agricultural and environmental leader; other parts of the northeast want to learn how to foster a dairy products sector that reflects the values of environmental sustainability, local food, and vibrant economies,” said Terri Goldberg, Executive Director of the Northeast Waste Management Officials’ Association (NEWMOA), which is co-hosting the Summit. “We are collaborating with Vermont on the Summit to support our sustainability and pollution prevention mission and to better leverage expertise across the region.”
The Summit is just a starting point. Through its Environmental Assistance Office, the Department of Environmental Conservation will continue to help dairy products manufacturers understand regulatory requirements and improve practices, through site visits, online workshops, and other outreach.
For more information and to register to attend the Sustainable Dairy Products: Northeast Summit, visit www.eaovt.org.
The Uttar Pradesh government’s ayurvedic pharmacy at Pilibhit in India has proposed to collect, process and sell packaged bottles of cow urine.
Dr Prakash Chandra Saxena, principal and superintendent of Government Ayurveda College and Hospital in Pilibhit, said: “Not just for medicinal purpose, we will promote cow urine as a health-giving drink. We have prepared a plan and will discuss it with Ayurveda department in Lucknow for approval,” reports the Times of India.
He further added: “Drinking 10ml to 20ml cow urine daily will act as a preventive against seasonal diseases, like fever, cough and stomach-related ailments. Daily consumption of cow urine will also help increase people’s immunity. Our aim is to make cow urine easily available to common public.”
“At a later stage, we may plan to prepare medicines using cow urine for other diseases, including cancer and skin-related problems. As ayurvedic medicines have no side-effects, its demand is increasing in the country,” said Dr Naresh Chandra Gangwar, in-charge of the pharmacy.
In July 2017, the centre set up a 19-member panel, including three members linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), to carry out, according to an inter-departmental circular and members of the panel, scientifically validated research on cow derivatives including urine, and their benefits.
The department of science and technology, department of bio-technology, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with IIT-Delhi initiated the national program called Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya (SVAROP).
The Adityanath government has also cleared setting up 1000-capacity gaushalas (cow-shelters) in seven districts of the state and 16 urban locations in the first phase of the project.
A committee under the district collector will maintain new cow shelters with help of NGOs and public.
Mexican authorities are taking serious action to protect the last of the endangered Vaquita Marina whale through fish reservations around the Sea of Cortez.
Fishy Roadkill: 300 Sharks Found Off Mexican Highway
With less than 30 left in existence, the vaquita, translated from Spanish means little cow, also known as a cochito, ittle pig, falls prey to poachers for their bladders which are considered a delicacy in the Chinese market.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources announced Friday its plans to finance the construction of three totoaba farms to “prevent illegal trafficking.” On its official site, the ministry detailed its plans to collaborate with the departments of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food and Marina to open the reservations.
An implementation process will be incorporated and fishermen will be offered three months of compensation for their cooperation in supporting the state’s environmental efforts and for avoiding the designated area while the project is underway.
Photo: World Wildlife Fund
Additional changes for the protection of the vaquita marina will be an expansion of a 2015 legislation granting the sea mammal 750 sq km of space and the banning of “ghost networks” which both the state and non-governmental organizations will try to eradicate through the use of 85 acoustic monitoring points.
The state’s department is not taking any more chances, coupling their precautions with additional long-range video surveillance systems, control and mobile communications, digital communications equipment, 14 vessels, 23 vehicles and four aircraft; 177 elements of infantry, 54 of gendarmerie and inspectors of Profepa and Conapesca.
Cattle producers Joan Ruskamp of Dodge, Nebraska, Chuck Coffey of Springer, Oklahoma, and Jared Brackett of Filer, Idaho, are the new leadership team for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board, elected unanimously by fellow Beef Board members during the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix. Ruskamp will serve as chairman, Coffey will serve as vice chairman and Brackett as secretary/treasurer to lead the national Beef Checkoff Program for the coming year.
Newly elected CBB Chairman Joan Ruskamp and her husband, Steve, operate a feedlot and row-crop farm west of Dodge, Nebraska. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Curtis, where she earned an associate degree in veterinary medicine in 1980. Ruskamp has been very active in the beef industry, with service to numerous producer organizations. In addition, she has been a 4-H leader for about 20 years, an EMT for more than a decade and a religious education teacher for nearly 30 years.
Vice Chairman Chuck Coffey is a fifth-generation rancher who grew up in the hill country of Harper, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in range science from Texas A&M. Coffey taught agriculture at Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, after completing his master’s in 1985. Eventually, he chaired the department until he joined the Noble Foundation as a pasture and range consultant in 1993. He is extremely passionate about ranching and feels blessed to be able to work on the ranch every day.
This year’s Secretary/Treasurer, Jared Brackett, is a fifth-generation cow/calf producer from Filer, Idaho. He graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in agriculture economics and is a diehard Aggie football fan. Brackett is also a past president of the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association and continues to serve on a number of other livestock committees and boards.
The 12-member CBB Executive Committee includes the Board’s three officers and eight members elected at-large. The CBB members elected the following members to its 2018 Executive Committee: Amelia Kent of Louisiana; Bill King of New Mexico; Paul Moss of Tennessee; Don Smith of Texas; Jana Malot of Pennsylvania; Jack Parent of Vermont; Irv Petsch of Wyoming and Rob Von Der Lieth of California. CBB Vice Chairman, Chuck Coffey, will serve as chairman of the Executive Committee, and, as immediate past CBB Chairman, Brett Morris of Oklahoma will serve as an advisor to the committee.
The Executive Committee operates under the direction of and within the policies established by the full Board and is responsible for carrying out Beef Board policies and conducting business and making decisions necessary to administer the terms and provisions of the Act and Order between meetings of the full Board.
The Beef Promotion Operating Committee was created by the Beef Promotion Research Act to help coordinate state and national beef checkoff programs. The 20-person committee includes 10 members of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, among them the Board’s three officers and seven other members of the Board elected at-large by Beef Board members. The other 10 members are appointed from the Federation of State Beef Councils.
CBB members elected to the 2017 Beef Promotion Operating Committee during the annual meeting in Phoenix include: Michael Smith of California; Robert Mitchell of Wisconsin; Hugh Sanburg of Colorado; Tammy Basel of South Dakota; Janna Stubbs of Texas; Ken Blight of Michigan and Rich Brown on New York.
For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.
Volunteers with the Humane Society of North Texas were working feverishly through the night on Friday to shelter at least 300 abused and malnourished Longhorn cattle before an expected cold front sweeps into Texas on Saturday.
Several cattle were found deceased as workers searched a property in Central Texas looking for strays, a Human Society official said.
The Humane Society volunteers are working in conjunction with deputies and officials from the Hill County Sheriff’s Department who are investigating the property with possible criminal charges looming in the future, said Cassie Lackey, Humane Society of North Texas spokeswoman.
It is unknown how many Longhorns had not been located or how many dead cattle may still be on the property, Lackey said.
“This is all very disturbing and unsettling,” Lackey said. “We are working against time to get these animals sheltered before the cold front comes in on Saturday.”
This is the largest seizure the Humane Society has worked on in the past two years, topping the more than 200 animals seized in one incident in 2016, Lackey said.
Lackey estimated that perhaps as many as 400 large animals would be recovered before the end of Friday night. The animals were located on property near FM 933 and County Line Road in Hill County, according to reporting by WFAA.
A hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Feb 16 to determine whether the cattle should be returned to their owner, a news release from the Humane Society of North Texas stated.
Cow at sea sparks rescue attempt Townsville Bulletin The steer escaped during the loading process overnight and was unable to be located. An outrigger canoe club training at the time and individual kayakers banded together this morning for an impromptu rescue effort but the steer didn't survive … Escaped cow survives all night in the sea but dies of exhaustion just as brave canoeists tow it toward the shoreDaily Mail
Poor nutrition, reproductive tract infections and bull performance can be linked to conception failure
A cow’s overall condition affects its ability to become pregnant and deliver a healthy calf.
“The bottom line is we need to get our cows cycling at the start of the breeding season and we need to ensure we get those conception rates to achieve herd fertility,” said Cheryl Waldner of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.
Problems and recommendations for better herd reproduction were presented in a recent Beef Cattle Research Council webinar.
Field research examined 64,000 records from 90 western Canadian cow herds between 2014-16. It showed about six percent of cows did not get pregnant. Average herds also reported that 8.5 percent of heifers were open with a range from zero to 24 percent of young females failing to conceive.
This failure can be linked to factors such as poor nutrition, reproductive tract infections and bull performance.
As well, the decision among many producers to calve later in the season has shown to lead to decreases in pregnancy rates.
Researchers have seen lower open rates in cows bred in May and June compared to herds that breed earlier in April or in July or later.
“The difference is not huge but it is significant and it is something we need to think about,” she said.
“We are maybe pushing our cows harder, asking them to get pregnant in the summer grazing season,” she said.
Stillbirths, including those that died within 24 hours of life were lower for cows bred in June, July and August compared to cows bred earlier.
Abortion rates are very low.
“There was no association between start of breeding season and risk of abortion. The abortions are low and not seasonally dependent,” she said.
However, the loss of a fetus could be due to something like bovine viral diarrhea.
Nutrition and body condition has a major impact on reproduction.
Current surveillance data from last year is still being analyzed but producers are questioning whether the 2017 drought could impact this year’s calf crop.
Data from the last severe drought in 2001-02 showed herds in the hardest hit areas were likely to have more stillborn calves.
Body condition scores were considered but researchers also speculated vitamin A deficiency may have been responsible for more dead calves at that time.
Body condition score is the bottom line for assessing nutrition in cow herds.
The Canadian system for ranking weight and frame ranges from one to five. The western Canadian study of about 30,000 cows shows cows range from two to four. Three is optimal.
Thinner cows are more likely to be open at pregnancy checking time.
Thin cows struggle to rebreed compared to the average to heavier females. Thin ones are more likely to abort.
First- and second-calf heifers and those older than 10 years were often thinner.
While a cow with a score of 3.5 is often considered to be on the heavy side, it is more likely to be pregnant than a three.
The heavyweight cows scoring a four or 4.5 did not show a decline in pregnancy rates.
Cows that were 3.5 and beyond were more likely to have a hard calving but they were not likely going to lose the calf.
“The ones we have got to pay attention to are these thinner cows that were twos or less. They were much more likely to have a hard calving than these cows that were a little bit heavier,” she said.
“Cows that were thin in pre-breeding or pre-calving were still more likely to be thin at pregnancy testing. They don’t always recover as nicely as we would like them to,” she said.
The importance of trace minerals like copper must also be appreciated.
This deficiency is common in Western Canada. The most deficient regions seem to be eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba.
Pregnancy rates and lower serum copper levels have been associated with higher open rates in cows younger than 10 years.
In 2014, blood tests on mature pregnant cows showed 43 percent were copper deficient.
Further tests in 2016 on young cows found 24 percent of those were deficient and 85 percent of herds had one or more copper deficient young females.
If the trace mineral molybdenum is present in the region, its ingestion can tie up copper. About 13 percent of cows in the survey had higher than recommended levels of molybdenum. They probably picked it up from feed and soil.
Sulfate and iron also tie up copper.
For supplementation purposes, there are different types of copper.
Chelated minerals are bound to something organic that improves absorption of the mineral. They are more expensive but for those having serious problems with low copper, or high sulfate or iron in the water or molybdenum in the soil, chelated minerals can be useful said Waldner.
One of Nintendo’s greatest, weirdest strengths has always been its ability to create something that absolutely no one asked for — and make us want it anyway. Animal Crossing, its long-running video game franchise about a human player living, working, and camping in various forests populated by anthropomorphic animals, is perhaps the quintessential expression of this off-beat creative mission. The game’s objectives, insofar as they exist, are to wander around in the woods, make friends, and decorate your domicile in whatever manner you see fit. This has led, inevitably, to some unsettling creations, but by and large, Animal Crossing is an all-ages community simulator designed to feel gentle, playful, and kind.
But does something darker lie beneath its cheerful exterior? Animal Crossing has always been a game that is as strange as it is cute, full of odd tics and design choices that raise probing questions about what, exactly, is going on in the larger world of this woodland hamlet. Some might suggest that Animal Crossing is its own answer, an adorable, absurdist experience that exists purely to delight. If you prefer this reading, feel free to exit now.
But for those willing to go down the rabbit hole, a closer examination of the series — and, particularly, the recent Pocket Camp mobile game — reveals something much more unsettling: a dark mirror that inadvertently reflects some of the most ruthless and dehumanizing elements of modern society, and how they can degrade our social and ethical bonds.
So here’s what we know — or at least, what we can infer from a careful examination of the universe of Animal Crossing.
Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others
If you think about anthropomorphic worlds for any sustained length of time, chances are, things are going to get weird. That’s because animals occupy a fraught and complex space in real-life human culture where they can be categorized, sometimes interchangeably, as both friends and food. Intelligent and sensitive animals like pigs are alternately treated as beloved pets and delicious snacks, doted on with parental affection by some and slaughtered by the millions in factory farms by others. A world that imagines animals as beings who walk, talk, and form complex interpersonal relationships inevitably brings this dichotomy to the fore, either by addressing it directly or ignoring it entirely.
As an explicitly family-friendly game, Animal Crossing chooses to do the latter — and the moral consequences are considerable.
For starters, there’s the question of food itself. While many of the villagers, like the cat and wolf characters, are traditional predators, we see them living harmoniously with prey animals like birds and rabbits. But all of the animal characters in Animal Crossing do eat certain animals, including shrimp and a wide variety of fish, which are depicted as smaller — and mercifully, not anthropomorphized.
One might assume that these creatures are considered fair game for consumption because of their low intelligence, but this theory doesn’t hold up for long: Squid, which in the real world are cognitively sophisticated enough to use tools and commit acts of deception, are routinely caught, sold, and eaten in Animal Crossing; cows, pigs, and chickens routinely host gleeful barbecues where skewers of meat roast over the flames. Angus, a bull character, is happy to sip coffee and recline on a cowskin rug, with no apparent inner turmoil about the fact that it was flayed from the body of a fellow cow.
And then there’s Goose, who is inexplicably not a goose at all but rather a large chicken. Like all of the characters, he won’t come visit your campsite until you possess a certain series of items that he desires. Usually, this means crafting decorations or pieces of furniture in line with their preferred aesthetics. But Goose has something darker in mind, a request that he characterizes as a “little favor.” Here is what’s on his shopping list:
To be clear, Goose is not only asking you to put a hit out on a fellow bird, but to prepare the corpse for a sumptuous repast. Is the turkey in question a hated foe, or is this just some cannibalistic fetish he likes to indulge? As his killer-for-hire, it would appear it is not your place to ask.
Despite the wide variety of avian characters in the game, including penguins, chickens, ducks, and owls, you can also own a bird that lives inside a cage — an item that the game specifically says inspires “no reaction” from the other characters. How can characters like Jay and Goose be so nonchalant about the imprisonment and enslavement of a fellow bird? Either they lack empathy to a degree that borders on sociopathy, or they do not see themselves when they look inside the cage, but rather a sub-human creature undeserving of liberty and free will.
Similarly, a cat character named Punchy will eventually ask you to craft a cat tower, which is classified in the game’s catalogue as a “pet item.” Since Punchy and the other cat campers are clearly not pets, that means this particular piece of furniture is intended for a cat who is — and that a cat can own another cat, a revelation with some Goofy and Pluto-esque moral implications.
There are, then, two classes of animals in this world: those who are regarded as people, and those who are treated the way human beings typically treat animals, as commodities to be bought and sold. By mapping animals into human society while maintaining its conflicted and contradictory relationship with animals, Animal Crossing essentially codifies that dichotomy into an animal caste system that allows socially superior members to freely enslave and consume their own kind without any sort of internal conflict. This is, needless to say, pretty grim and an unintentionally scathing critique of humanity’s inconsistent attitudes toward animals, particularly when viewed through the cheerful, breezy lens of an all-ages game.
We need to talk about Stitches
Several characters in Animal Crossing pose disturbing existential questions by their mere presence, particularly Hopkins, who appears to be an inflatable toy rabbit. There have been numerous debates among Animal Crossing fans about whether or not Hopkins, who has a blow-up nozzle on the back of his head, is “real.” It would seem that the fleshier animals in the game have similar concerns — and an innate, borderline prejudiced distrust of counterfeit animals. Although he is seemingly afforded the same rights to life and liberty as the others, the character profile for Hopkins includes a sinister warning: “Just a heads-up: Hopkins is not to be trusted. He’s always full of hot air.”
But most disturbing of all is Stitches, a teddy bear whose body has been Frankensteined together from seemingly haphazard scraps of fabric — or, possibly, the bodies of other bears. This alarming animal Pinocchio has Xs instead of eyes, and seems to be a spirit of some kind, trapped in the body of a nightmare doll that looks like it’s about to pull out a knife and demand that you play with him… forever. He also reflexively refers to you as “stuffin,’” which sounds like a threat in a way that I do not wish to investigate.
As with Hopkins, it is uncomfortable to contemplate precisely when his consciousness came into being. Was it summoned into his tiny cloth body through some arcane ritual, or did it emerge gradually as his ersatz-bearness took form in the hands of some Geppetto-like craftsperson? Does he experience pain? Could he feel his own anatomy being stitched together by the needles of the thread-god who gave him life?
Whatever else they are, Hopkins and Stitches are inescapably tragic creatures, constructed in the image of animals they will never fully become, whose very bodies aspire toward a state of existence that their fundamental nature will always betray. This then forces us to ask: who created them, and why were they conjured into the world? As experiments, as substitute children, or as toys to be played with by other animals? If these thoughts haunt them, they give no sign, but the question of their second-class citizenship — and the very nature of their souls —perpetually hangs in the air.
Some Dogs Go to Heaven
So what are we to make of the notion of the soul in the Animal Crossing universe, or at least how the characters regard it? One clue lies within the seasonal holidays in the game, which include religious celebrations like Christmas. We can assume, then, that God exists in this world — or at least, that many animals acknowledge a higher being and practice some form of Christianity. Whether Jesus and his disciples were human in this alternate universe, or a colorful assortment of woodland creatures, I will leave to the imagination of the reader. But one can reasonably assume that this iteration of Christian faith regards anthropomorphic animals as fully fledged members of humanity with souls and access to the afterlife, and that the lesser animals of Animal Crossing are necessarily excluded from spiritual personhood and the promise of eternal life.
But wait! The rabbit hole goes even deeper!
Most Animal Crossing games include dancing clay figurines called gyroids, which appear to be sentient but are classified as “furniture items.” The exception to this is Lloid, the only gyroid who speaks and has a name. Lloid appears variously as a gardening assistant, a construction foreman, and the proprietor of an auction house, where you can buy and sell other gyroids. Whether this makes Lloid a traitor to his kind is unclear.
Gyroids are inspired by Japanese funereal objects called haniwa, which can be shaped as both people and animals, and are sometimes thought to be containers for souls. Lloid speaks in an antiquated, formal dialect that suggests he lived in an earlier era, and thus is the spirit of a long-dead person or person-animal residing in a figurine. Other gyroids, which instinctively dance and ululate but cannot communicate, are more likely empty vessels waiting to receive souls, or perhaps once contained a spirit that left a trace of its humanity behind.
This means that the characters of Animal Crossing could be functionally immortal, as their consciousness can be transferred into gyroids after death — and, in a Black Mirror twist, into life-sized toys like Stitches and possibly even sofas. Given that this is a world where nearly everything can be bought and sold, it’s also likely immortality is granted solely to those who can pay for it, a dystopian notion that raises profound moral concerns. This could also explain why Stitches is so poorly constructed: it’s the only body he could afford.
Friendship is just another in-app purchase
This brings us to the financial system of Animal Crossing, the fundamental mechanism that shapes the experience of the game. It has long been observed that Animal Crossing is something of a capitalist fantasy, a world where everyone — even poor people and avocado toast-eating millennials — can become homeowners through sheer diligence and hard work.
The moment you arrive in town, a tanuki robber baron named Tom Nook informs you that you’ve just taken out an enormous loan from him to buy your home, and it’s now your job to pay it off. (In some games, you’re conscripted into a form of indentured servitude at Nook’s company store). Pocket Camp flips the script on this conceit, turning your character into a transient who lives out of a van in the woods, a grim vision of what awaits less affluent renters in gentrifying neighborhoods. OK Motors takes on the lender role here, as you repeatedly go into debt with the repair shop to spruce up your vehicle.
You have no home in Pocket Camp, per se, nor any consistent community; the animal characters who set up camp only stick around for a few hours at a time before they are rotated out. It’s possible to get them to camp with you on a more permanent basis — but of course, this comes with a price. Your animal “friends” will adamantly refuse to come stay with you unless you decorate your camp with furniture they consider stylish (and/or commit bird murder for them). You must live, henceforth, with the knowledge that all of your relationships are conditional and based on status and money, rather than true affection and respect.
Your interactions with everyone you meet are fundamentally transactional; your friendship level with a given animal in Pocket Camp only increases when you bring them whatever gifts they demand, items that can only be attained through physical labor. In return, they give you money and resources, a relationship that more closely resembles a boss and an employee than two mutually caring pals. At times, your “friends” will literally hand you sacks of money to express their appreciation — a friendship “bonus,” if you will. By design, this is what friendship boils down in Animal Crossing: the regular exchange of money and goods. Like the lesser animals consigned to their cages, your relationship is just another commodity to be bought and sold.
If that isn’t depressing enough, Pocket Camp breaks the fourth wall of its virtual capitalism with in-app purchases, allowing you to purchase the friends and status you desire with real money via “leaf tickets”, rather than just the in-game currency of “bells.” Technically, you don’t have to buy leaf tickets — it’s possible to earn them in the game — but things go a lot faster and easier if you just shell out the cash. Leaf tickets give you access to special items and also accelerate the crafting process, allowing you install your luxurious new pool instantly, rather than waiting 72 hours like a plebe.
Naturally, Tom Nook is running the microtransactions. And in Pocket Camp, his commitment to capitalism is so extreme that even he can be bought, for a price. If you’re willing to pay the rather exorbitant fee of 250 leaf tickets — which you purchase in an online store that literally has a picture of Tom Nook reclining in a bathtub of money — you can craft a chair that will impels him to visit your camp like a paid celebrity showing up at a kid’s birthday party, so that rabble like you can touch the hem of his terrible sweater vest.
All of this makes Pocket Camp feel less like a capitalist fantasy and more like a capitalist reality, where people with money can jump the line and instantly buy their way to a better and more convenient (virtual) life, while everyone else has to grind out a living in Shovelstrike Quarry.
So yes, Animal Crossing is a charming and delightful game about making friends — one that happens to take place in a world where social inequality, murder, and cannibalism are a normal part of the social order, where the rich can buy and sell those they consider sub-human on a whim, and even spend their way into eternal life, making wealth a power akin to religious salvation.
All of which is to say that you should absolutely play Pocket Camp. It is not only a highly entertaining game, but one that inadvertently doubles as a candy-colored indictment of some of the deepest flaws of modern society. And again, it’s free to play — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to cost you.
And in the meantime, the bodacious bovine has become a social media star and will receive a full pardon … as soon as they can get her out of the woods.
A spunky cow by the name of Hermien has captured the hearts of freedom lovers everywhere as she remains on the lam in the woods of the northwest Netherlands, elusive to all efforts of capture.
Her break for liberation came as she was being loaded onto a truck heading for the slaughterhouse. No one puts Hermien in a corner, apparently. She hoofed it to the woods, where she has been hiding out since December!
Apparently, she only comes out at night. Understandably, she is not very trusting of humans.
“She has been running free for six weeks now, and you can count on her being very shy, apprehensive about every person that comes close to her,” Bert Hollander of the cow sanctuary, Koeienrusthuis, told the NL Times.
And as it turns out, the three-year-old Limousin cow is the hero we all need right now, as evidenced by the plethora of hashtags peppering social media: #JeSuisHermien, #GoHermien, #HelpHermien, #FreeHermien and #MeKoe (koe is the Dutch word for cow), to name a few.
And all the support hasn’t been for naught. Pieter van Vollenhoven, the son-in-law of former Queen Beatrix, tweeted “we’ve got to save Hermien, let’s all buy her together and give her freedom.” And indeed, the Party for the Animals (PvdD) has launched a crowdfunding campaign that has raised €48,000. They write:
The money will be used to ensure that for the rest of her life, Hermien will be well cared for in cow shelter “De Leemweg”. The shelter is entirely dependent on donations, and adopts and looks after cows from the Netherlands that have escaped from slaughterhouses, cows that have been neglected, or, for whatever reason, have nowhere else to go. In the shelter, cows are allowed to live a quiet and peaceful life until their natural death.
If they can ever get her out of the woods, that is.
See some paparazzi footage below. Beautiful girl, we wish you a long and happy life.