HIGHTOWER: High-Tech Cow Monitoring

Science marches on! And on ... and on ... often trampling common sense, and usually propelled by a government grant.

Applying the diehard American notion that technology is the answer, no matter what the question, some agricultural researchers at Texas A&M and Southwest Texas State have been messing with a great big chunk of technology called "global positioning systems." This satellite based gizmo was developed by the military to keep track of troop movements in war. Now some auto makers are putting the technology in their cars -- if you get lost, just hit a button, for your little satellite buddy in the sky always knows right where you are. The Wall Street Journal reports that this gave the ag researchers a sudden thought: Why not use the global positioning system to keep track of grazing cows?

Grazing cows? Most cows are fenced off in a pasture, and what little movment they do is at a mighty slow pace. Well, say the researchers, the satellite system could tell them precisely where in the pasture the cows graze. So, these scientists have been strapping $5,000 satellite receivers around the necks of assorted cows and monitoring each cow's position every 20 minutes, also noting whether said cows are standing up or laying down. Already, say the researchers triumphantly, they've learned that the grazing cows avoid an area in one pasture where the grass was growing among sharp rocks!

One can only assume that the rocks were sharper than these researchers.

Asked how the cows reacted to this high-tech intrusion into their grazing habits, the lead researcher said: "They just shake their heads."

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Me too! Good grief, just put some old cowboy called "Snuffy" or "Cooter" out there with a pad, a pencil, and a Timex ... and let him monitor the cow movements with an old technology called: eyeballs. Better yet, forget the whole thing.

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