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Culture Briefs

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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Uninstructed

"What's with these, spoiled, anorexic, garishly made-up, expensively and skimpily dressed, drug addicted, alcohol swilling, chimney smoking, foul-mouthed, arrogant, ignorant, so-called 'young stars'?

"Is there no end? The maxi-publicized, mini-talented Paris Hilton goes to the slammer for 23 days and 'finds God.' Well, sort of.

"With scarcely a beat, Nicole Richie, another no-talent party-girl and pal of Paris, gets a four-day jail sentence for a DUI, along with community service, a fine and probation. It's her second DUI conviction. On top of that, this example of starvation-chic is pregnant by a boyfriend. Tabloids speculate which one.

"Then, there's Britney Spears, already on thin ice concerning custody of her two children. She was the center of a midday brawl at a Las Vegas casino, as a photographer tried to get a picture of Brit and her son when they walked through. Spears' bodyguard jumped the guy, who suffered minor injuries. ...

"And of course ... Lindsay Lohan — just celebrated her 21st birthday, officially making her an 'adult.'

"I guess she didn't read the instruction book."

— Barbara Simpson writing on, "Lindsay & Co. exposed and obscene," Monday at WorldNetDaily.com

Breeding Britain

"Of all the bogeys you might have thought well and truly nailed in the past decade or so, the population-control movement seemed most obviously to have a stake through its heart. At a time when we — I mean, anyone over 35 — are all horribly conscious that there won't be enough taxpayers to support us ... in our old age, the very last thing we need to worry about is excess population growth. ...

"But, against all the odds, the population-control lobby is back and trying to make the breeders feel guilty. ...

"[W]hen it comes to the suggestion that in Western Europe, and especially Britain, we should be cutting back on babies, especially among the indigenous population, well, the family planners have got to be nuts. Do they all have private pension provision, own homes and health insurance, or what? ...

"Europe needs more babies — the average continental family has a mere 1.37 children. ...

"The last thing we should be doing is bullying people to breed less."

— Melanie McDonagh, writing on "The cry should go up in Europe: more babies, please," July 13 in the Times of London

Enhanced rights?

"When Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's all-time home run record in 1974, it was a thrilling civil rights victory. ...

"Now Barry Bonds ... is about to strike an equally important victory for the oppressed of our era: the performance-enhanced. When Bonds uses his redwood-trunk legs to trot around for No. 756, I hope he's joined on his way around third by the Botoxed, the Prozaced, the Viagraed, the Propeciaed, the Lasiked and the breast-augmented. For it is a victory for all of them. ...

"Get used to the 21st century. ...

"The social battle of our time is about the fairness of medical technology. ...

"In a more enlightened age, when the risks and the costs of these medical miracles come down, we'll look back on Bonds' triumph as a victory for all of us. We'll see our booing of him as symptoms of a silly, Luddite phobia of manipulating our own bodies. I'm sure there was an equal outcry when makeup was invented. And hair dye and the Wonderbra. How our ancestors went on, I have no idea."

Joel Stein, writing on "Ode to the enhanced," Friday in the Los Angeles Times

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