1. If you are a lawyer, or forced to speak with one, you might have heard of the concepts of in personam and in rem. In personam denotes an action against a person, whereas in rem denotes an action against a thing, in as United States v. Bitchin' Yacht We Seized From A Drug Dealer and Now Want To Sell To Help Fund The War on Drugs..
Of course, there's a gray area between person and thing. I give you in goat.
Deputy Justice Minister Claude Nyamugabo said he was on a routine visit to the Kinshasa jail recently when he was surprised to find a herd of goats in one of the cells. Prison officials told him that the goats had been charged with "being sold illegally by the roadside" and were due to appear in court to answer for their crimes. Outraged, Nyamugabo ordered the goats released immediately. (The goat-sellers themselves apparently are still incarcerated.) He said that local police apparently had "serious gaps in their knowledge" and would be sent for retraining, suggesting that the Congo Police Academy has a course that covers whether or not to put goats in jail.
Which raises the eternal question that faces us with many warning labels, training courses, and cautionary statements: if someone is stupid enough to do it in the first place, what makes us think he'd understand or heed a warning?
2. And speaking of goats — I assure you we were — please visit me in the City of Angels, where goats are expected to work for a living.
Leaders of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency hired 100 goats to nibble away thick weeds on a steep slope at the corner of 4th and Hill streets, next to the Angels Flight funicular.
Agency officials said the goats were cheaper and more environmentally friendly than two-legged brush-clearers armed with gasoline-powered weed-whackers.
I would like to believe that the L.A. Times is using the word "hire" in its slightly archaic sense of "rent", as in "I hired a car for the day." However, I actually read the L.A. Times, so I'm pretty sure the word is being used as part of a PETA-driven agenda. Anyway, whether chattel, at-will employees, or independent contractors, the goats are perhaps not as cheap as you might expect:
An electrified fence helps corral the goats and keeps them from falling over a retaining wall at the base of the slope. Security guards will be on duty when he is not there to watch over the herd, said Gonzales, 71, of Chino.
You can't really blame the goats for demanding these benefits. If I were hanging out in a vacant lot at 4th and Hill I'd want an electric fence and a security guard too.
But you thought your boss was harsh about goofing off on the job? Check this:
Most of the South African Boer goats are female, Gonzales said. To keep them focused on their eating, males in the herd have been castrated, he said.
I may walk past there tomorrow on my way to lunch. I suspect it will be the biggest collection of smelly, scruffy, rude weed-seekers I've encountered since my sophomore dorm.