How Now! How Neat!

 , By Ronald Howard Livingston
on Tuesday, November, 13 2012 11:44:49 pm   , 1016 words  
Categories: Uncategorized , 63921 views


A friend on a social-networking blog site once asked if bulls are born with little lumps on their heads where the horns grow? She also noted a cartoon her youngest child watched. He apparently knew that cow meant the females of the species and had commented that they have a "male cow in the cartoon" and thus surmised "there must be male cows someplace!"

A cow, of course, is the female of several species of animals: elephants, moose, and whales, for example, as well as those large domesticated bovines which we generally call cattle. In such instances, the males are generally referred to as bulls, as in bull elephant, bull moose, bull walrus, for example, and the young are called calves (calf in the singular). Cattle is the plural word we most often use to refer to members of the  genus Bos. Bos taurus are cattle breeds such as Angus, Hereford, Charolais, Shorthorns, also known as Durhams, and so on, which originated from European and west Asiatic wild species of cattle. Bos indicus cattle are the breeds associated with India and southeast Asia. The breed of Bos indicus bred in America is the Brahman. (Brahman cattle were the first breed of cattle developed in the United States, excluding the naturally selected Texas Longhorn, later given recognized breed and herd book status.)  Several beef breeds are mixtures of both of these domesticated  species: Santa Gertrudis, Brangus, Red Brangus, Beefmaster, and so on.

The word cattle, however, means all livestock, especially hoofed livestock: pigs, horses, donkeys, milk cattle, meat cattle, sheep, and goats. It is related to chattel, and derives from the Old French word catel, which means moveable property, as opposed to real property (land and buildings). (Even slaves were called chattel, a unit of personal property.)

Why do we have a domesticated animal that colloquially is referred to by the name we use for the female of the species? Cows, females of beef and milk cattle, and their male counterparts, bulls, are indeed livestock but obviously not horses, not pigs, not sheep, not goats---so, what are they (more precisely, what are they correctly called)?  Ever oil your baseball glove with a substance called neat's-foot oil? Well, only in that sense do we continue to utilize the best, most accurate, word for these large mammals: Cows are neat! Yep, they're nifty, especially if you own them and can make a living from them, but their actual name in English is neat. They are neat cattle.

There are cow neat, and there are bull neat. Really neat, huh! Too bad so few people nowadays know it or care to use it, such that we have let the word fall by the wayside and thus instead of being able to identify the animal specifically, we childishly settle for glaringly inaccurate "close enough" terms like cow and cattle.

Another term often used to indicate these large domesticated cloven-hoofed range and barnyard ungulates is ox (oxen in the plural). Although the term can be used in referring to any of several bovine mammals of the genus Bos or related genera, such as gaur, yak, buffalo, and bison, the term is most commonly used to mean a steer of at least four or five years of age that has been trained for work. The term was at one time even applied generally to any bovine (male or female) used to do work. The condition of being work animals has long been a criterion in the use of the term. In old records (such as tax lists) which consist in part in lists of property, oxen were listed separately and distinctly from animals noted therein as "cattle" or "cows."

All neat (cows and bulls) have horns, unless they are of a naturally hornless strain, called polled (or pollard) cattle, once commonly known also as muleys or mulleys (which term derives from maol in Scottish and Irish Gaelic and moel from Welsh). Angus (both Black Angus and Red Angus) are polled, as are some Herefords, called Polled Herefords. There is a Polled Shorthorn (Durham) breed. There was a breed once very popular that has declined in popularity in the United States called Red Polls. Texas Longhorns are actually not the descendants exclusively of Spanish mission cattle that went wild, but the descendants of English Longhorn Durhams brought to Texas from the Carolinas in the early years of the Anglo-American colonization of Texas. During the War Between the States, these cattle too went wild and bred with the wild Spanish cattle. So, the long horns are primarily due to the "shorthorn" (Durham) cattle (but the long-horned variety, Longhorn Durhams) that the colonists brought with them.

Horns, of course, are not on young calves. They grow from a bud by means of a growth ring and eventually become attached to the skull. Horns are composed largely of keratin, the key structural component found in nails (fingernails, toenails, claws, and hooves) and hair. The keratin and other proteins composing the horns grow around a core of bone and become a permanent sheath around and emanating from the bone core, but horns per se are not bone (unlike antlers of animals, such as deer, which are bone).

In seeking to be specific so as not to mean goats or sheep or any other livestock, neat were often referred to as horned cattle (whether horned or polled).

Some references, such as some dictionaries, now designate the term neat "obsolete" or "rare."  In other words, people have opted for imprecise terms such as cattle (livestock), cow (a female of any number of animals), and ox (an altered male bovine used to do work) to awkwardly, inaccurately refer to a single member of the species Bos taurus or Bos indicus.

A male of the genus Bos is not a cow, nor is an entire herd of these animals cows!  Wouldn't it be NEAT if we could restore a perfectly good old word to specifically and correctly designate an animal so much a part of the growth and development of civilization and a valuable part of our modern world economy?


A Word on Freedom

 , By Ronald Howard Livingston
on Thursday, September, 13 2012 08:56:00 pm   , 326 words  
Categories: Uncategorized , 35634 views


(This small essay was posted to my social network blog on 4 November 2008. Though published four years ago, the current presidential slate of mediocrity makes the piece as germane today as it was then.  What a pity that anymore such elections have become in the land of the free and the home of the brave a selection of "the lesser of two evils.")


Freedom of speech entails the right to ask questions and to suppose out loud.  It entails the right to be silent when you care to share nothing to a conversation or other situation.  Freedom is as much a matter of not doing as doing, exercising a choice.  (Universal service, for example, is not service; it is slavery.  Involuntary servitude is slavery and "service" against your will is involuntary servitude and certainly not freedom. When you choose to serve others you are exercising true freedom.)  Freedom of speech is part of your right to vote.  Freedom of speech is also exemplified by a decision NOT to vote, especially when one feels that those put forward for one's vote are not WORTHY of it.

Freedom of speech is a right, but often not a protection. You will be vilified, insulted, harassed, and maybe even threatened (and more rarely, complimented), for exercising this right.  Not voting does not cancel your right to speak. For by voting, or not, you have spoken. Freedom is about doing what you think best for yourself and for others about whom you care. No one should be told "You HAVE to make a choice, and you HAVE to vote." If you are not happy with candidates, haven't studied the issues, or just don't even want to participate, you have a right to abstain. Such is just plain common sense, and rudeness to those who abstain is repugnant and a poor reflection on the derogator, who thus is no exemplar of freedom.

A right not exercised is still a right.




Virtual Graveyards

 , By Ronald Howard Livingston
on Tuesday, September, 04 2012 03:18:00 am   , 835 words  
Categories: Uncategorized , 44173 views


Death, we could all sure live without it!  It may seem a grim and depressing topic to most, yet it is the ultimate reminder of the precious gift that is life.  It indeed induces the  fondest of remembrances, so often made manifest in elaborate monuments placed to mark the final resting places of our dearly departed.

I have commented in an earlier blog entry about a website called Find A Grave. That website has two sections of entries, the famous and the non-famous.  Both sections contain burial information and photographs of headstones, markers, and monuments, yet while one might only peruse the non-famous section in attempting to find an ancestor or for leads in historical research, one may more frequently be inclined to spend time looking through the famous burials data to learn interesting and perhaps even entertaining tidbits about favorite celebrities, historical figures, or even villains.

Find A Grave is but one of many websites featuring interesting data on the famous and the infamous.  Here is a selection of other fascinating websites which detail interesting facts and pictures of interments of celebrities.

The Political Graveyard

Got a question like "Who was that politician killed riding a streetcar?" Sure ya' do! Everybody wonders about politicians getting gored by bulls, shot by jealous lovers, pummeled by one opponent or another.... Oh, wait, those are people wanting to watch those events. Oh, well, never mind that part. Anyhow, if you want to know about circumstances of a politician's birth, life, death, and disposal, uh, well, I mean, interment, then this here be the place, I'm tellin' ya'!

The best way to use this site is with the alphabetical list (provided you already have a name to research to begin with). Otherwise, you can look through the categories listed toward the bottom of the home page to identify politicos who did or had done to them any number of things, many of which categories led to their demise.

If you have questions about the site itself, like who started it, how and why it was started, and "Who else helped out?," there's a "Questions and Answers" page, which by the way, lists Yours Truly in partial answer to question number 27.  (Yep, it's a nifty site and I spend a lot of time there!)

Beneath Los Angeles: The Famous, the Infamous, and the Just Plain Dead

The site is divided into three sections (as indicated by the title).

In looking over the site, one notes interesting facts such as that Irene Ryan ("Granny" on "The t.v. show "The Beverly Hillbillies") is interred in the same mausoleum crypt with Anna Thompson, a star of silent-films. Ryan and Thompson were sisters, though the site does not make note of the fact. Mostly this site shows headstones, crypts, and graves, without much in the way of biography.

This is a site concerned with the deaths (and lives) of the rich, the not-so-rich, the famous, and the not-so-famous. Though somewhat irreverent, its biographies are quite intensive and interesting. Have a comment or something informational to add? The site even has a message board.

Seeing Stars in Hollywood

Seeing Stars in Hollywood can be styled a "complete guide to Hollywood." This is a very in-depth site. Not only does it have a section "Where the Stars Are Buried," it has sections such as "Hollywood Museums," "where the Stars Shop," "Hollywood Movie Palaces," "Where the Stars Live," and much more.


This site is very interesting, though its home page is rather "busy" and thus somewhat off-putting initially!  The best way to view the site is probably to go to the site map and go to the list of burials. But by doing so, you may miss some really nifty information, like what burials are in a particular region of the country.  Nearly each of the sections on the home page is a link to articles and pics for celebrity burials of a particular region/tour.  (Whether these are actual tours or "tours" is figuratively used is something not really made clear.) You just have to see the page on Victor Mature! (I'd always assumed he was possibly of Italian heritage and likely of eastern seaboard birth, possibly Nyoo Yoiwk Citee, but he was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and is interred there in St. Michael Cemetery.) The monument is fantastic! (What is the symbolism of the coins?)

Famous Graves

A section of an interesting site that contains other interesting photos and information. Under "L," I found a memorial to victims of the October 1, 1910, bombing of the L. A. Times---16 of the 20 victims, apparently buried at the site of the memorial.

Grave Hunter

Interesting biographies. (Example: "At the age of 13, Ozzie Nelson, became the youngest person to become an Eagle Scout. The requirements for Eagle Scout make it impossible for anyone to beat his record.") Grave site and marker pics are scant and not always readable. Though it has much of interest, the site seems an abandoned effort.



(Photos: Views of "Hollywood Forever Cemetery."

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