Waking Babs

Babs died yesterday at age 30, after a four month battle with kidney disease. So her family and friends did what most family and friends do.

They held a wake and said goodbye.

The thing is, Babs was a mountain gorilla. Her wake, organized by keepers at the Zoo, was reported in today's Trib.

Here's how reporter William Mullen described it:

Babs' 9-year-old daughter, Bana, was the first to file down to the body.

"It was heartbreaking to see," said Amy Coons, a gorilla keeper for the last six years. "Bana came in with this stunned look on her face."

Babs' mother, Alpha, 43, followed. There was Beta, a 43-year-old female, and Binti Jua, 16. Nadaya, a 3-year-old male, came, and Koola, 9, brought her infant daughter, whom Babs had showered with attention since her August birth.

Only the silverback male leader, Ramar, 36, stayed away.

Bana sat down next to Babs' head and held one of her dead mother's hands in one of her own, stroking her mother's stomach with the other.

"Then she laid down on the floor next to Babs," said Betty Green, a gorilla keeper for the last 17 years, "putting her head on Babs' outstretched arm.

"It was like they used to do in the exhibit, lying side by side on the mountain. Then Bana rose up and looked at us and moved to Babs' other side, tucked her head under the other arm, and stroked Babs' stomach."


Sign of the Apocalypse or just plain sad

At first, it was definitely a sign of the apocalpse. Definitely.

Now, I'm not so sure. Maybe these stories about teens getting breast implants M are just plain sad.

The stories have proliferated after a report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that the number of teens getting implants is up by 24% in recent years.

There have been a few followup stories, with women who got the implants being disappointed that their dreams didn't come true
with the implants, but those disappoints are mostly due to complications.

Here's one such story, found at the end of a Chicago Tribune story. Kacey Long got the implants at 19, but had them removed three years later "due to excruciating pain and silicone poisoning."

"My best friend's mom worked for my plastic surgeon for 12 years, and she received breast implants six months before me," said Long, now a 22-year-old graduate student in special education at Texas A&M University at Commerce. "She said that in her time at the office, no one ever had any problems. So I really thought that I had inside info and that these devices were completely `safe' and maintenance-free.

"I am still paying on my augmentation surgery," she added, "even though my breast implants are now at home with me in a jar, where they should have been all along"

There's a story here--about how we view women's bodies, about the connection of between body and self-esteem, about the worship of human perfection, about doctors and parents who should know better, about the excess of consumer culture. Then there are the moral questions, as Terry Mattingly points out.

But I'm still wanting more of the human story--about the desires and hopes and dreams to be found in a bag of silicone and bigger breasts.


George Bush smacks Philip Pullman Down

God's been
kicked out of a new movie
and it's all George Bush's fault. (Thanks, Revealer.)

Apparently, New Line Cinema is unhappy with "perceived anti-religiosity" in the film.


Pulman's work is a reworking of Paradise Lost, so that Satan is the hero and God's an old fake, so there's nothing percieved about his "anti-religiousity" as Amy Welborn points out.)

Here's a bit from Pullman himself taken from an earlier interview.

But when you look at organised religion of whatever sort – whether it's Christianity in all its variants, or whether it's Islam or some forms of extreme Hinduism – wherever you see organised religion and priesthoods and power, you see cruelty and tyranny and repression. It's almost a universal law.

There's also a fascinating exchange he had with the Archbishop of Canterbury here

Pulman is a also a critic of CS Lewis, and he makes some good points--points that most Evangelicals overlook. Like this, when asked why he hated the Narnia books:

Because the things he's being cruel to are things I value very highly. The crux of it all comes, as many people have found, with the point near the end of the Last Battle (in the Narnia books) when Susan is excluded from the stable. The stable obviously represents salvation. They're going to heaven, they're going to be saved. But Susan isn't allowed into the stable, and the reason given is that she's growing up. She's become far too interested in lipstick, nylons and invitations. One character says rather primly: 'She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown up.'

This seems to me on the part of Lewis to reveal very weird unconscious feelings about sexuality. Here's a child whose body is changing and who's naturally responding as everyone has ever done since the history of the world to the changes that are taking place in one's body and one's feelings. She's doing what everyone has to do in order to grow up.

Maybe one day she'll grow past the invitations and the lipstick and the nylons. But my point is that it's an inevitable, important, valuable and cherishable stage that we go through. This what I'm getting at in my story. To welcome and celebrate this passage, rather than to turn from it in fear and loathing.

That's what I find particularly objectionable in Lewis – and also the fact that he kills the children at the end. Now here are these children who have gone through great adventures and learned wonderful things and would therefore be in a position to do great things to help other people. But they're taken away. He doesn't let them. For the sake of taking them off to a perpetual school holiday or something, he kills them all in a train crash. I think that's ghastly. It's a horrible message.


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