ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Sep 10, 2013

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It was tense.


Good morning, all! Anyone in this thing? (shakes) I have cow tipping news!

I know some people criticize me for being on the computer so much that I ignore my babies. Yet babies are resilient. They are fine. By the way, I have quick but important question: Did I mention that I have two babies or three?

Definitely plural, but beyond that I couldn't say. Trying calling them and see where the ringing comes from? (I have no idea how children work.)

Okay, so cow tipping. 

Recently, there's been some noise about the fact that cow tipping, as far as anyone can tell and as far as the YouTube evidence extends, is impossible. You'd need 6 people of average strength, once you take into account the cow's ability to brace itself. 

But it's such a persistent legend! 

So I guess what I'm asking is, does someone have a cow?

I need to get one of those mooing cow cans ...

Oh, those are great!

You cow tippers are all liars!

How much do you tip a cow?

a) Well, they say it doesn't affect quality of service. 

b) Ignore the cost of drinks! Just tip on the food bill. 

c) 20 percent is now standard

The President's speech might interfere with the season opening episode of "Sons of Anarchy". Does he really want to upset thousands of bikers?

Are there actually that many upsettable bikers, though? I always think that shows like Sons of Anarchy and That Gritty Prison Drama, Oz, might slightly overestimate the vigor of the Motorcycle Gang culture, but I don't have any stats at my fingertips to support this hunch. 

I blame the Civil War hoopla. In our treaty, Great Britain was given perpetual access to the Mississippi River. I wonder how long that lasted?

That was a great treaty! 

The trick about getting a treaty signed somewhere in France is that the specificity of the location is inversely correlated to how happy everyone is about the treaty afterward. Treaty of Paris: great! Treaty of Versailles: eeegh, unless you're America!

I have never met anyone who claims they were cow tipping, so I can't challenge them on it. I always thought, not so much about the weight of the cows, but the fact that I would not expect a cow to stand there and take it. I have known of a local farmer who was killed by a bull, so I would not recommend people trying. It is now good to know it can't be done, except if one has a really anorexic and stupid cow (but enough about Paris Hilton).

She always spoke highly of you!

The two main points of objection were:

-cows don't sleep on their feet, horses do

-cows tend to be fairly alert

-cows can brace themselves

-I can imagine convincing one guy to tip a cow, but six people of moderate strength?

I went to college where there were many cows. In fact, they would occasionally get loose and wander down the main road and there was one dorm you didn't want to live in because it was downwind from said cows. I know people always said they were going cow-tipping (which I thought was cruel), but I don't know if anyone was successful. There was alcohol involved and cow patties, so I don't know if anyone acutally made it to the cow to tip them.

Ah, cow patties, nature's booby trap!

if the numbers of ? are down today, may be because when I just went to find your chat, it wasn't listed with the other discussions. Was on the discussion page, but not in the window on the "front page" of the website.

Oh, people have been commenting on this. Hi, other 22 people! We can all go around and coin a bunch of inside jokes that will make us obnoxious to everyone who joins in future weeks!

You can tip $1 for each drink the cow provides, $2 if the drink is really expensive. A Brandy Alexandra, I presume. At least the cream comes straight from the source.

...well, that's a visual. 

I thought it was done while the cow was sleeping standing up, which I guess they sometimes do. But I grew up in Chicago, so what do I know.

I think some cows occasionally sleep standing up, but it isn't standard cow procedure by a long shot. 

Ordinarily, I would recommend that you, Squirrell Bopper (who has some experience with animals) , and I get together and see what happens when we try to tip a cow. Just remember that there will be photographers so wear your nicest shoes.

We just need to find a cow that's on board with this idea. I did call the zoo and ask if we could use one of their cows, but the very nice lady on the other end said "we definitely cannot do that." 

Writing as a fellow playwright to commiserate. I've just been told that my new play reads like "a sequel to A Night at the Opera." I don't know whether to be pleased, or chagrined that I'm 80 years too late and all my leading actors are dead.

Can't you be both? 


Cows do sleep on the ground, which means a standing cow is awake and alert and not prone to like being pushed upon. Cows can predict the weather. If you see all the cows on the ground, it is going to rain. If you see all the cows standing, it is not going to rain. If you see some of the cows standing and some on the ground, it means it might rain, it might not.

In the immortal words of Jon Arbuckle, "Reckon it'll rain. If not, it won't." 

Speaking of farm animals, here's some news from Australia that might be relevant. Looks like the cow won this round. 

No, but I got a tip from a cow once. "Don't drink the 2 percent for the next month." Then she went back to chewing her cud. Then I chewed my cud. Then we chewed each other's cuds, which is illegal in 23 states.

Oh dear, I was wondering how long we would take to escalate to this point and the answer is: er, this long. 28 minutes, on my clock. 

I went up to a sleeping cow and said "bet on Easy Rider in the 5th tomorrow."

You want to pick your cow breed very carefully it you're attempting to dislodge it. We had Holsteins (black and white bovines) who are high-quality milk producers, but are also extremely high strung and jittery around humans. (my dad had several broken bones from being kicked by his agitated ladies) I suggest you tippers stick to Jerseys or Guernseys who tend to be more placid breeds.

But the Guernseys have such low centers of gravity! 

Someone from Chicago does not know about cows? Well, here is what one needs to know. Cows cause fires that burn down entire cities. The end. P.S. That actually wasn't true, but blaming cows is an old age tradition. In fact, I believe cows are behind climate change and the trade deficit.


Maybe we can work this chat into a frenzied mob who, at noon, go rushing out to push cows over with wild abandon, shouting, "THIS IS FOR MRS. O'LEARY!"

a sea cow (manatee)?

You might be able to, but you aren't allowed to ride one

Read an article yesterday about insomnia. Can't remember if it was here or the NYT. They mentioned Ostrich Pillows, which I had never heard of and had to look up, and which look pretty cool in an impossibly-nerdy sort of way. But they're $99. Anyone have one? Are they worth it? (Link for if you haven't heard of them either: )

Is this a pillow you bury your head in and assume morning will come? 

If you can't tip a cow, can they be sucked into a tornado and then spread into the population in an action film called CowNado?

I would definitely watch this. 


Why is it easy for cows to get into Harvard? Because they are always outstanding in their field.

I have a friend who enjoys participating in the occasional rustic golf tournament, where they golf in livestock pastures (talk about a "rough"!). Even if the cows (or sheep) have been herded into different pastures for the event there are still, ahem, obstacles on the course.

Ah, yes, those obstacles. 

I'm picturing someone trying to concentrate on putting who keeps being interrupted by loud baa'ing from a neighboring field. 

I always blame the dog but I can see how a methane producer like a cow would be much better.

I wonder if mad cows tired of all the tipping efforts try to get even by tipping people over, perhaps drunk ones at frat parties downwind from the pastures.

This is a real Cow Tips Man story. 

A cow walks into a bar. She says to the bartender, "can a cow make a speech here" and the bartender says "sure, but no bull." Sorry. It's the best I could do on short notice. (SB)

A cow walks into a Temple. 

a) The cow is honored as a sacred animal. 

b) The cow is shunned immediately as unclean.

c) The cow thanks Ms. Grandin for her groundbreaking work and apologizes profusely. 

Yes, you can blame the cow instead of blaming the dog, but remember, theret has to be a cow in the room.

It's like an elephant in the room, but you talk about it occasionally. 

But the cow that graduated was very smart.

I hadn't heard that one before! 

I tried jumping up and waving my arms, but I think I got a myopic cow. How about A Night At the Zombie Opera?

A tornado sweeps thousands of pigs and then sends them twirling into the general population in the action film BaconNado.

Is it strange that my first thought is, "That sounds delicious. I really should have had breakfast!"

I grew up on the edge of a ranching town (two of the four edges of our property were actually the city limits) and on the other side of the city limits were...cows. Mostly steers, of course, but there were some cows thrown in for good measure. The bulls had their own business and were not allowed to roam. Anyway, as many posters have said, "cow tipping" is to "drinking out in a field in the misbegotten belief that our parents don't know what we're doing" as "waiting for my man" is to "sitting around hoping that the neighborhood drug dealer hasn't dipped into his own supply but rather will show up some time soon."

Well, this is an increasingly distressing consensus. 

Also, I've never heard of "waiting for my man." I thought that was something people did during the Civil War with candles in their windows. 

Agree, we need to expand the cow-in-the-tornado scene from "Twister" and turn it into full CowNado movie. Alas, the flying cow patties would probably scare audiences away.

Sometimes, you really don't need 3D. 

Next problem: What would the strength of the wiring be required to bungie jump the average cow?

Get MythBusters on this!

Also, my response didn't show up to Zombie Night At The Opera, so here it is:

-What is a popular cow video sharing service?

Play some jazz for them.

This is amazing! 


You stand in one of those wind tunnel things, but bacon pieces are added to the wind. Of course, this would escalate the "Nado" arms race until every state fair had three FriedOreoNadoes going full blast. Which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

No, I was about to say!

And I'd love some footage of the presidential candidates, in the course of trying to make nice with the average voter, somehow winding up in the bacon wind tunnel. 

I'll be at the MD Renaissance Festival on Sunday. If anyone sees me, please say hi. Also tell me where I left my car. I ALWAYS lose it in that parking lot.

Tell the giant drumsticks hello!

I used to work on a dairy farm. To make a long story short, we sold raw milk to customers. Once, the cows came across someone's illegally planted marijuana patch and ate all the plants. I asked an expert and I was told the milk was affected by the pot. So, here is to medical marijuana milk. P..S. It may be possible to cow tip a stoned cow. They'll sort of fall over on their own, actually.

That's amazing! 

Now that's a farm I'd like to see advertised on television. There were all those ads about the best milk coming from contented cows, but this really takes it to another level. 

You could sic them on cow-tipping as well. But they "busted" the "myth" of "holding a sleeping persons hand in warm water will make the wet the bed," and I'm 100% sure that is no myth. Tried and tested true at numerous sleepover parties.


Let's try it on the cow.

I always root for the bulls to win in Pamplona.

They usually do, I think. 

"Cow Cow Boogie" (I'm not making that up!).

Yes, that very much exists. Here's Ella Fitzgerald singing it. 

How do you figure out how long to make the bungee?

Have your cow test it first. 

Then make certain the helicopter always stays exactly the same height above the event. 

Maybe "cow tipping" is actually a euphemism for another nighttime activity randy farm boys are rumored to engage in . . . ?


Do they jump off the Moo River Bridge in West Virginia? While singing Henry Mancini's hit "Moo River"?

Which reminds me:

A: Bo-vine. 

(I'll see myself out.)

I'm not sure what for, but I'm Jewish and this is the season so....

I wish we WASPs had a season for that, other than Every Time We Get Together For Holidays And Uncle Dennis Has Three Vodkas. 

We farm boys resent the insinuation that we run off with cows and sheep and goats and chickens. I mean, seriously. Chickens?

I know! They're lookers, but NO PERSONALITY whatsoEVER!

I envision a Monty Python type scenario where someone from PETA runs out right about now and protests our discussions about harming cows.

My first consideration in all these scenarios would be to keep the cow from harm. 

Maybe plant a mattress, or something!

I went for a makeup consultation yesterday. I asked the technician what season I was and she said "hurricane."

Hey, better than "Road construction." 
(She sounds mean! Don't go to her again!)

I have seen a cow tipped over before. If you have to lay a cow down so that a vet can perform an action, there is a way you can tie a rope around the cow and then push that will cause the cow to tip over on her side. This is routinely done with sheep. You hold the sheep, turn her head and press her over with your legs. She will tip over and go down to her side.

Does this count as tipping? If so, you are the hero of this chat. 

Hey, don't insult chickens, I wouldn't take one home to mother, but they are rather cute when pecking around the yard, and can definitely be sneaky about getting you to lift pots etc so they can get slugs and other bugs (I'm talking urban backyard hens here, which have a pretty nice life).

I really hope you wouldn't take a chicken home to mother! 

although you could take one home to roost. 

Then again, if you took a chicken home to mother and committed to it for about a month, you'd never have to worry about her approval of your dating life again!

"So I guess what I'm asking is, does someone have a cow?" The noted philosopher Bart Simpson has frequently warned, "Don't have a cow, man."

Wise words. 

A bull looks at a cow and says "she is beautiful. Why, she's got 50 shades of gray."

*cow on the subway, surreptitiously reading 50 Shades of Black and White over shoulder of another cow*

Cow tipping is real! The busted myth has been busted. Who knew the secret is to get the cow first into bondage. I wonder if Mr. Grey ever went cow tipping.

Ah, it's the 50 Shades of Compost Chat portion of the discussion, right on schedule!

That was quite a fad at one time, I had it done and was told I'm a Winter. Means I look good in jewel tones, no orange and yellow. Think being a Hurricane cool.

Oho! Good to know. 

Actually, chickens are very wary of pots, ever since Herbert Hoover crowed about one in every pot.

The crowing threw them off for a bit, but they soon learned. 

Kinky is using feathers. Disturbing is taking the whole chicken home to meet your mother.

I balk-balk-balk at this. 


Some are celebrating vat-grown beef. What is the future of this? How can they grow it without hormones?

Debated between "in a vat!" and "very carefully." 

Hey, I'd eat it. 

Cow tipping works for Dennis Rodman. The cow sees Dennis Rodman coming and falls over in hysterics.

That's how Mad Cow started.

Activity in this chat was monitored by the Humane Society. No animals were harmed in this discussion. Some were slightly offended, but we can't help that.

That's, I think, always the case.

My parents, who grew up in Berkeley, California, told me that there used to be dairy farms up in the Berkeley Hills (near the Claremont Hotel by the Oakland city limit). When I was a child there was a dairy business called South Berkeley Creamery, which later it changed its name to Berkeley Farms. Their TV and radio ad campaign featured commercials that would end with "Farms in Berkeley???" "Moo-oo-oo-oo" Folks who lived in the Bay Area in the mid-to-late 20th century all remember this fondly -- a cultural touchstone!

It's amazing how commercials serve as the tree-rings of time spent in a particular place. Sing it with me -- "800-588-2300 EMPIRE! TODAY!"

But ropes are forbidden in Olympic cow-tipping.

Forget wrestling. Let's put cow-tipping back where it belongs. 

Gene Weingarten is discussing tipping over a statute. Is the Post in some tipping over theme today?

Just the tips! 

I saw a vet sedate a bull, rope him, tip him over, and then excavate an infected hoof, disinfect it, bandage it and then get the bull up.

Aw, but that's not Olympic procedure.

Soylent Green Slime is cows!

And on that note, have a great week!

Keep reading the Compost, feel free to join me on Twitter, and let me know if you tip anything over.


In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost, a lighter take on the news and issues of the day, and she contributes to the Post editorial page. Her work has appeared in venues such as The Huffington Post, The Week,,, Collegehumor, and The Harvard Crimson. She has appeared on Jeopardy!, Showbiz Tonight and Canadian radio, and she has performed at Boston's Comedy Studio and Comedy Connection. She would love to be on your TV show, radio show, Daily Show, HBO special, or to be an honored guest (or regular guest) at your Bar Mitzvah. She is the author of two books (unpublished, but contact her!), two screenplays, three plays, one musical, and one memoir (Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.)
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