- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

Fear and loathing

"We have seen weird times in this country before, but the year 2000 is beginning to look super weird. This time, there really is nobody flying the plane… .
"There is an eerie sense of panic in the air, a silent fear and uncertainty that comes with once-reliable faiths and truths and solid institutions that are no longer safe to believe in… . There is a presidential election, right on schedule, but somehow there is no president… .
"If this were the world of sports, it would be like playing a Super Bowl that goes into 19 scoreless overtimes and never actually ends… . Guaranteed fear and loathing. Abandon all hope. Prepare for the weirdness."
Hunter S. Thompson, writing on "Prepare for the Weirdness," Monday on the ESPN Web site, www.espn.com

Just hanging out

"For most 15- to 18-year-olds … [high school] is a period of scholarly torpor, even boredom. They tread academic waters until they can realize the exciting prospect of college… .
"In interviews with a teen-age magazine, seniors in a suburban Chicago town put the American high school into their perspective as a place to hang out, make friends, and grow up, with few comments about learning. As they wait for responses on college admission, their thoughts are on their social and personal lives… .
" 'I wore this skirt the other day. It was so cool, people told me they liked it, and I said, "I made it," ' one 18-year-old related, then went into a detailed description of her social life… .
"Another 18-year-old, this time in Texas, assessed her time in high school, summing up what she had learned in those four vital years: 'Academics isn't what it's about. It's about growing up, going places with your friends, learning about guys, learning about yourself, learning about how you react to situations, to heartbreaks. Anybody who doesn't go through all that is really missing out which is why I never understood why people drop out.'
"The competition between 'growing up' and learning is powerful, and in the present school environment … learning usually comes out second best by a country mile."
Martin L. Gross, from his book, "The Conspiracy of Ignorance: The Failure of American Public Schools"

Single vs. married

"The most reliable predictor of our voting behavior is … our ZIP code. [Vice President] Al Gore carried voters in our largest cities by a 3-1 margin. In cities with populations between 50,000 and 500,000, Gore's margin was 3-2. The suburbs split evenly between the candidates and [Texas Gov. George W.] Bush carried smaller towns and rural areas with 60 percent of the vote.

"This geographic split reflects a cultural split over the role of government. Government subsidies and mediation are valued in the cities, while in areas less densely populated, government is viewed as a remote force best kept at arm's length… . These geographic differences are reinforced by lifestyle differences. Bush carried married voters by 9 points, while single voters backed Gore by a margin of 19 points… . Overall, 72 percent of Republican voters are married, compared with 59 percent of Democratic voters. Married voters are less likely to be city-dwellers.

"In Seattle, for example, married couples with children make up only 12 percent of the population. With urban life increasingly resembling a scene from 'Swingers' or 'Sex in the City,' and married families seeking the schools and open spaces of suburbs and small towns, marital status tracks with geographic location."

Kate O'Beirne, writing on "It's the ZIP code, stupid," in the Dec. 4 issue of National Review

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