Censuring Sexism, Praising Pythons

Clean Sweep

Discriminating evidence: In your article "Cleaning House" (Susy Buchanan, April 4), what relevance does this have to the story: "Rosie Alvarez looks like a delicate little thing, with a firefly waist, full breasts and willowy limbs. Her face is tiny, too, framed by dark tendrils that match her full lashes and brows"?

How come there are no sexual descriptions of the other people involved? Does the size of her breasts or her small waist somehow give more credence to her claim? Wouldn't "petite woman" have conveyed the same meaning? For an article that's fighting injustice and implied discrimination against Latinos, it's disheartening to read sexist comments in it.

Richard Montero
Via e-mail

Weird Science

Top secret: Thanks for your efforts to find the "bottom line" for this crash project ("Black Hole," Spiked, April 11). Our leaders demonstrate amazing irresponsibility by racing to spend $120 million for an undefined/negative financial return, despite an ongoing inability to solve the state's billion-dollar or so budget problem. Then they arrogantly keep the details secret.

Recent Arizona government financial fiascoes include alternative fuels ($500,000 to $1 billion), the Cardinals' stadium ($300 million), budget deficits ($1 billion or so), expanding Phoenix Civic Plaza ($500 million), and now genomics ($120 million). That's about $710 to $1,310 wasted for every Arizona man, woman and child.

Soon nobody will be able to afford to live here. The "good news," however, is that then our pollution, crime, education and traffic problems will be cured!

Name withheld by request

Security Blanket

Training day: I just want to say good job to John Dougherty on the security guard story ("On Guard," April 4). This has been a problem for a long time, and something needs to be done about it. I am a licensed security guard and have been for the last 11 years. And more training needs to be done. I think that a good idea would be to have a security guard academy, to train security guards in all things they should know, say, a six-week course in law and report writing and arms training. If we take the time to train them, we will have better guards, and crooks will be found out before they can get a job as a guard.

Richard Bauer

Snake in the Grass

Squeezing the zoo: I read your article regarding animal deaths at the zoo ("Creature Discomfort," John W. Allman, March 28). Pretty alarming. I write you because I took my family to the zoo on Easter Sunday and was quite disappointed -- shocked is a more appropriate term to use.

I witnessed a group of zoo employees/volunteers give the public the most negative experience about reptiles that could be given. I have many years of experience with reptiles and use this to build positive experiences, not negative experiences, which is what I saw at the Phoenix Zoo.

An employee/volunteer motioned us to gather in the grass because they were bringing out a large python. We waited in the grass until a golf cart arrived with a large Rubbermaid tub. Four employees carried the tub from the cart to the grass and proceeded to pull out a 10- to 12-foot Burmese python. They laid the python on the grass in direct sun and explained that this was the snake's first appearance and they were unsure how he would react. It was already close to 90 degrees and the fact that Burmese pythons should be kept between 82 degrees and 88 degrees immediately concerned me. One of the girls proceeded to poke and prod it with an oversize snake hook.

Obviously the python was feeling the heat and began to crawl toward the shade. This is a very natural reaction for a cold-blooded animal that is stressed by excessive heat. At that point, the girl with the hook pinned the snake's head and then jumped down and grabbed it around the neck. Three additional employees jumped on the snake and all began to lift the animal back into the tub.

The girl with the microphone said, "Obviously he is being really bad so we are having to restrain him and put him back in his cage!"

Everyone in the grass walked away saying to each other, "Did you see how mean that snake was? That's why I hate reptiles!"

My job every day is to teach people that reptiles are not mean or dangerous when the proper knowledge and husbandry techniques are in place. I can only hope that the people in the crowd that day call me to teach them how docile Burmese pythons really are.

John Bergman
Via e-mail