We took the kids to the circus last night, for entertainment and pedagogical reasons. I wanted them to see for themselves the elephants, so that they could make their own judgments about whether or not the unnatural behaviors coaxed out of the elephants violate their rights, or if they have rights at all.

I'm not actually such a dreary father, in case you were wondering. In any case, the elephants looked well-fed, at least. And the anti-Ringling Brothers protesters outside the Verizon Center win the award for Least Effective Demonstration, Animal Rights Division.  Here's a hint: Don't scream through bullhorns at eight-year-olds. It tends to piss off their parents.

But this is not why I'm writing. I'm writing because last night's program included a performance by a group of men on horses advertised as "Cossacks." This surprised me quite a bit, not least because the owner of Ringling Brothers, Kenneth Feld, is a member of Washington Hebrew Congregation. Here is the description of the "Cossacks" from the program:

For centuries, the warrior horsemen guarding the frontier borders of Eastern Europe employed astounding acts of dexterity, skill and strength to outmaneuver and outwit encroaching predators. Today, daredevil equestrians -- generically referred to as Coassacks -- perform feats of extreme horsemanship that trace their roots to tribes of the same name who inhabited 15th century Russia and Poland.

Encroaching predators, huh? Who you calling an encroaching predator?

Here's a photo of the warrior horsemen of Ringling Brothers. I love the hat. cossacks!004.jpg.jpg

cossacks!005.jpg.jpg

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