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    Fags, fiestas, fish

    Posted by Sean at 01:23, June 8th, 2009

    There are several websites devoted to people who have been members of the cult-ish Christian sect in which I was, I believe I’ve mentioned several times, brought up.  The editor of one of them offered to create a page about what it was like for gay kids, and it’s up here.  Yes, I’m linking to a page that mostly consists of my nattering, but the interesting parts to me were the questions he came up with.  There was nothing I hadn’t been called upon to think about before, but it never hurts to cast an unsparing eye over these things again.  Thanks to James, the editor in question, for making such an effort to turn out a page that looks great.  I hope its target audience finds it of use.

    My friend Sarah also posted about upbringings in a slightly less self-aggrandizing context this weekend.  She was responding to this post by Ilya Somin, and she said in part:


    If I need to explain how this leads to racism — my sons, both US born, with a US father, routinely get asked why they’re not preserving their Portuguese culture and I routinely get taken to task for not teaching them “their language.”

    And that brings us to the next point — tourism culture — culture is NOT the food or the clothing or — at least not in the US — the religion. This is how cultures are taught in US schools, and it is wrong. These are trappings and the sort of thing a tourist might think is “neat.” Teaching it this way is poisonous because kids get this “foreign cultures are just like us, except for neato traditions we don’t have” view at the same time they get the MOST jaundiced, sin-oriented view of American history and culture possible. They have no idea that if they actually studied other cultures in depth, their historical “sins” and their modern ones too would FAR outweigh those of the US. (No, I’m not going to apologize for that qualitative judgement. I voted with feet, remember?)

    I have to say the whole down-on-the-West thing is something I’ve never understood. One of the very most dominant strains in the development of Western thought has been self-examination, and through it self-awareness and self-correction. You acknowledge that colonization (or slavery, or treating women as chattel) is bad, and then you stop doing it. Social injustices on those vast scales take a while to be worked out, of course; but the idea is always to be working toward improving our institutions so that they serve the liberty of their individual members better. That doesn’t make us a flawless society, but it’s hard to see how it makes us worse than everyone else. Even among those who keep insisting we have a litany of transgressions to apologize for, most Americans wouldn’t want to make the trade-offs required to live in Canada, much less elsewhere.

    And on a somewhat lighter note, while keeping with the errant-elders theme, Eric encountered one of those classic product warning labels that leave you wondering whether you or the attorneys who drafted it are crazier:

    It doesn’t look too bad, and it seems solid enough. The only complaint I have is with the lawyers, who put a ridiculous disclaimer on the front page of the instructions:

    Unit can tip over causing severe injury or death.

    And underneath that there are more warnings, but here’s the part that killed me:

    Put heavy items on lower shelves or drawers.

    Who are they kidding? This is an aquarium stand, for God’s sake. The aquarium goes on top!

    A filled 55 gallon aquarium weighs 625 pounds.

    Sure, there are some little shelves you could put things on, but there is no place to put the aquarium except on the top. That’s what it was designed for.

    Or are the lawyers warning me that it was not designed for what it was designed for?

    Well, they fulfilled the form of a warning, if not the function; and form is often what counts.


    Posted by Sean at 23:18, June 6th, 2009

    Busy and not where it’s easy to post. But I didn’t want to let the D-Day anniversary go by without acknowledging it. Q and O, Rondi, and Eric, among many others, I’m sure, have posts up. We all owe an enormous debt to those who fought.