aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
This story’s been going on since 1999 and I missed it?
In that year two male penguins, Roy and Silo, tried to incubate a rock together in the Central Park Zoo. So the following year a zookeeper gave them an egg, which they proceeded to hatch together. This made the NYTimes - a love that dare not squeak its name - and last year became a book, And Tango Makes Three.
Shortly thereafter it was reported that Roy and Silo had split up:
At the Web site for Focus on the Family, an influential organization run by radio host James C. Dobson, who has called homosexuality a disorder and advocates converting gays, a commentator, Warren Throckmorten, wrote: ‘’For those who have pointed to Roy and Silo as models for us all, these developments must be disappointing. Some gay activists might actually be angry.’’
Well, maybe not angry. As Roberta Sklar, a spokeswoman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, put it: ‘’There’s almost an obsession with questions such as, ‘Is sexual orientation a birthright or a choice?’ And looking at the behavior of two penguins in captivity is not a way to answer that question.’’
Said the guys who wrote the book, ‘’We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.’’
Now all of this comes to my attention by way of a librarian friend, who brought me this American Libraries article and suggested it as a blog post:
A week after media outlets around the world began reporting that a Missouri library system had moved And Tango Makes Three, a children’s picture book about two male penguins raising a baby together, Rolling Hills Consolidated Library Director Barbara Read was still fielding e-mails and phone calls about whether she should have restricted the title. But the book hasn’t been restricted at all, she responded over and over-just moved from children’s fiction to children’s nonfiction because it tells a true story.
Read told American Libraries that a widely circulated Associated Press report stemmed from the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press seeing in the February library board report Read’s correspondence with a Savannah couple, who had complained that Tango has a gay subtext. Read responded that she had decided to retain the book but move it to children’s nonfiction after having read it and consulted with zoologists about penguin behavior. The complainants thanked her for researching the issues, and acknowledged that while they disagreed with Read’s conclusions, they respected her opinion and that the reconsideration process made them “feel like valued patrons.”
Aren’t librarians wonderful?
NOTE: The cute little penguin in the picture has nothing to do with this story. It was the best penguin picture I had and it came from the ridiculous but fun story from almost exactly one year ago of the penguins put through airport screening devices at Denver International Airport.
Opus Dei: ordinary people serving God
The handy hook of The DaVinci Code has Diane Sawyer on GMA kicking off a special series on Opus Dei. She’s got an interview to tell us what really goes on inside the super secret organization. When asked about self-mortification, the perky spokesperson, of course, smiles and says it’s nothing.
Late last year Terry Gross had a Fresh Air interview with Vatican reporter John Allen in which they discussed his book Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church. Here’s how he described the practice of self-mortification:
Well, if you wanted to be sort of flippant about it, you would say it’s a matter of whips and chains. That is to say, there are two practices of so-called corporal mortification--that is, inflicting pain on oneself--that a minority of members of Opus Dei--again, it’s just the numeraries and the priests, so about 30 percent of the members practice. The first is called the cilice. This is a spiked chain that is worn around the thigh for two hours a day, except for Sundays. Sunday are considered a kind of mini feast day. And then there is a small cloth whip called the discipline that one administers to oneself once a week, usually on Saturday, during the recitation of a prayer, like the Lord’s prayer or the Hail Mary. So in other words, it’s a very quick thing that might endure a matter of a few minutes once a week.
Now, you know, when you ask Opus Dei people, `Why do these things?,’ they will tell you, first of all, that it’s hardly just Opus Dei that does them. Many of the great saints in the history of the church, from St. Francis all the way up to Mother Teresa, have used the discipline. They’ll also tell you that it’s about reminding oneself of the consequences of sin, identifying with the suffering of Christ and the suffering of the world. They will tell you that these are very mild practices that are constantly scrutinized to make sure that they don’t get out of hand.
Now if you ask critical ex-members of Opus Dei, they will tell you that sometimes, they have, in fact, gotten out of hand, that sometimes, they have been pushed too far. If you ask most spiritual directors in the Catholic Church outside of Opus Dei--that is, moderate mainstream people--they will tell you that they find the practice of corporal mortification, at best, strange and, at worst, possibly counterproductive, because if you really want to enter into the suffering of the world, you don’t necessarily need to whip yourself. You could go serve at a soup kitchen or you could work at a homeless shelter and so on. So I would say this is a practice for which Opus Dei has some warrant, but it’s certainly something that is widely debated in Catholic circles.
You can count me in with those “moderate mainstream people.”
Best bike locks
Twenty-eight years in NYC - twenty-five with a bike - and never a theft. Lucky I guess:
[M]ost bikes are stolen because they’re not locked at all ("I’ll just be in Starbucks for a minute Ã¢â‚¬Â¦"), or because the locks are used incorrectly. But plenty of properly locked bikes still get nabbed. To find out which locks work best, I pitted nine locks against each other from Kryptonite, OnGuard, and Master Lock: five U-locks, two woven steel cable locks, and two heavy-duty chain locks.
Next, I assembled my bike-jacking arsenal: an 18-inch crowbar, 30-inch bolt cutters, a hacksaw, three special blades, and my trusty claw hammer. I used only hand tools because 1) if a criminal crew with the proper power tools and a van wants a bike, it’s as good as gone, and 2) I probably would have hurt myself. I was very eager to find out how the various locks compared. And to break stuff.
Read the ratings: from worst to first.
BTW, I had/have one of those round-key U-locks that can be picked with the plastic barrel of a Bic pen. [Video]