Century Marks

Century Marks

Twice closeted

Jose Antonio Vargas, a reporter who has worked for the Washington Post and the Huffington Post, came out as a gay youth during a high school class. He has lived with another secret even harder to disclose: Vargas is an undocumented alien. When he was 12 his mother put him on a plane from the Philippines to the U.S., where he lived with his grandparents. He pursued citizenship at one point, but it would have required going back to the Philippines to live for ten years, a place he hardly knew. Vargas founded Define America, an organization that tries to reframe the immigration debate (New York Times, June 22).

A law against that

Three activists from the Orlando Food Not Bombs organization were arrested for feeding about 40 people in an Orlando park. An ordinance requires groups to have a permit if they are feeding more than 25 people in a park, and only two permits can be granted each year per group and park. Orlando Food Not Bombs contested the ordinance in court, but it was upheld (News-Press, June 3).

Best-read cities

Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the best-read city in the country, according to an Amazon.com list based on cities' sales data since the beginning of the year. Cambridge residents also ordered the most nonfiction books. Boulder, Colo­rado, lived up to its reputation as a health-conscious city—its residents ordered the most books in the cooking, food and wine category. Florida is the only state with three cities in the top 20, including Miami (6), Gainesville (8) and Orlando (12). The top five are Cam­bridge; Alexandria, Virginia; Berkeley, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Boulder.

Charity check

Over 7,000 charities are devoted to fighting cancer, but many of them are very small and some are quite inefficient. In 2009 the Children's Cancer Research Fund gave $2.7 million to the University of Minnesota, its sole beneficiary, for cancer research—but it spent $9.8 million to raise that money. A major reason for inefficient charities is that they aren't accountable. Before contributing to charities, check out their rating with an organization like Charity Navigator (Time, June 13).

Modern cathedrals

In his travels about the country as a church consultant, Anthony Robinson has noticed that in many cities the manufacturing plants are shuttered and office buildings vacant. The only institutions that seem to be thriving are hospitals and medical centers, which not only have the latest in medical technology but in some cases incorporate shops, spas, community centers and destination restaurants. These lavish new medical facilities, aimed at the well-insured and affluent, make Robinson skeptical about keeping the cost of health care in check. He calls these elaborate medical facilities our modern cathedrals—evidence that health care is at the center of our lives (Crosscut, June 1).