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Every now & then you see something on the road that makes you go, "What the hell was that?" Not stuff that's just gross or disgusting (roadkill is ubiquitous), but things that make a serious attempt at spraining your mind.

Somebody in my area drives a jacked-up, big-block version of... an Oldsmobile Cutlass. Was this the muscle car of choice twenty years ago for forty-year-olds who couldn't afford a Camaro? This car has the whole bit -- the chopped top, the drag-racer rear wheels, the supercharger hump in the hood... I guess these days anything that's a V-8 counts as a muscle car, really.

Also, on my daily drive home from work, there's a billboard advertising California pistachios. On this billboard is a guy with his hand out, said hand being full of said pistachios. The guy in question is grinning, not like he's enjoying a snack, but like he's having the best sexual experience of his life at that very moment. As if that weren't disturbing enough, the tagline, in feet-high letters, is "Grab a Handful!" When you're on your way home from work, tooling along at 55 in the left lane because the dump trucks are slowing the right lane down to 25 MPH, and you look up and see a grinning man telling you to grab a handful of nuts, that really throws you.

Going the other direction, on the same stretch of highway, is a billboard with a blow-up photo of a baby in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and wires. The caption says "Shaking a baby shatters lives." This ad was apparently bought by a woman after her babysitter shook her infant and caused all kinds of trauma. This one is disturbing on multiple levels, even besides the "people really do that kind of stuff to kids!" one.

I think of all the things that disturb one on the road, the one I've seen with the most "WTF??" points has to be the VW Beetle that used to (and still does, for all I know) zip around my hometown. The neon purple/fluorescent yellow (said colors separated by a thin white lightning bolt) VW Beetle, with the tailpipe sticking four feet out the rear at a 60-degree angle to the ground, just under the exposed engine. That really messed with my head the first time I glanced out the window at school and saw that thing farting its way down Church Street.

Today, I saw two across-the-road-bound animals get hit by cars.

Driving on a two-lane highway, I noticed ahead of me a beaver or muskrat attempting the precarious road crossing. Naturally I slowed down to let it pass. But an oncoming car, two kids in a black Dodge pick-up, ran right over it. I watched those two sons-of-bitches laugh as they sped up in an attempt to kill the poor animal. I was enraged. I felt to blood rise red to my cheeks and forehead as I screamed "you fuckers!" It was awful. Is it wrong for me to wish that the earth was rid of those bastards and one more muskrat strong?

I think from this some questions of fundamental importance: when the hell did humans like those punks first come into being? Why do many humans feel like this is their own planet, and that animals should die for a quick laugh? The more I think about what happened, the more the whole issue irks me.

I mean think about that for a moment...that could have just as easily been a small child wearing clothes that made him look like an animal. Do we really want these people living day to day with us? working with us? driving with us? playing with us? When did human morality take such a sharp nose-dive that people don't think twice about crushing an innocent creature with a half ton machine? I'm distraught, I don't know what to think. I'm really disappointed and I now realize that a society that proliferates and houses people like these isn't a good society.

Many claim that capitalism is essentially humans interacting in an environment akin to the state of nature. But in the state of nature, animals don't amass things frivilous to existence, and they sure as hell don't fucking joy-ride to kill animals and leave them to rot in the middle of the road. Do you see the connection?

Maybe it's not capitalism...maybe it's a declination of human value systems. Maybe religion is dying, and morals with it. More fundamentally, is morality only important when applied to humans? I mean, if a person is generous and nice and friendly and caring and lives by a "moral code" towards his family, his neighbors and strangers alike, but runs down innocent animals, is he really a moral person?

Or maybe I'm looking at this issue in the wrong way. Perhaps morals have nothing to do with it; maybe its just that adolescents go through a stage where killing animals is funny; or that since humans have existed, joy-killing of animals is natural. If that's the case, then I'd say we were doomed from the beginning.

I also saw a crow get hit by a car today. For all I know, this incident was an accident. I've never been particularly fond of crows, but at the same time, I'm disappointed that it was killed. Is everyone in such a hurry to drive places and to be somewhere that they can't slow down a bit and at least watch out for animals crossing the road, or at least be aware of the fact that animals coexist with us? Ironically, the crows are the ones that help clean up the other road-kill incidents. If we're gonna be running down animals, we should at least spare the crows so that something clears the road of carcasses. Maybe if we would open our eyes, metaphorically, we'd see this kind of disturbing thing on the road, and it would spark us to start thinking about the status quo and maybe start trying to change things.

This discussion leads us to a very interesting question: where do non-human animals, and plants for that matter, fit into our present world?

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