- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2002

Cultural wallpaper
"With flu season upon us, millions of Americans have rushed to their immunologists, hoping to avoid the cruel bite of the Moscow, New Caledonia, or Hong Kong strains of the influenza virus that are prevalent this year. But no matter the precautions, these doctors can do nothing to stave off the most insidious airborne pathogen to take root since the 1968 pandemic that claimed 34,000 American lives. For it is already here. And we have all suffered exposure. It is nothing less than the J. Lo virus.
"Whether you call her Jen, Jenny, J, J. Lo Jennifer Lopez, or, as she is known in my house, 'that nattering cow who won't get off my TV,' the actress/singer/ restaurateur/fashion designer/serial divorcee has gone from highly visible to inescapable. Even those who don't take deep, shameless drafts of disposable pop culture, as I do, cannot avoid her influence.
"True, we still cannot touch J. Lo. But with the speed at which she is marrying through the population odds are that we will all get a shot.
"Undeniably beautiful, though less so the longer she is inflicted upon you, Lopez has seemingly spent the last decade plotting to turn herself into the nation's cultural wallpaper."
Matt Labash, writing on "The J. Lo Chronicles," Tuesday in the Weekly Standard Online at www.weekly-standard.com
Arab relations
"Americans know so little about the Middle East that few of us are even aware of one of the building blocks of Arab Muslim cultures: cousin marriage.
"In Iraq nearly half of all married couples are first or second cousins. A 1986 study of 4,500 married hospital patients and staff in Baghdad found that 46 percent were wed to a first or second cousin.
"Americans have long dismissed cousin marriage as something practiced only among hillbillies. That old stereotype of inbred mountaineers had some truth to it. One study of 107 marriages in Beech Creek, Ky., in 1942 found 19 percent were consanguineous, although the Kentuckians were more inclined toward second-cousin marriages, while first-cousin couples are more common than second-cousin pairings in the Islamic lands.
"The Muslim practice is similar to older Middle Eastern norms, such as those outlined in Leviticus in the Old Testament. Isaac married Rebekah, a cousin once removed. And Isaac's son Jacob wed his two first cousins, Leah and Rachel. Jacob's dozen sons were the famous progenitors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel."
Steve Sailer, writing on "Cousin Marriage Conundrum," in the Jan. 13 issue of the American Conservative
Virginity boom
"In the past several years, the tenor of sex education in schools has been gradually changing from: 'You're going to do it anyway, so here's how to be safe,' to 'You shouldn't do it until you're married, and here are several reasons why.' Today, one out of three high schools teach 'abstinence only' sex ed.
"More than 700 programs have sprung up around the nation to counter 'abstinence-plus' programs that many parents thought went too far with their graphic descriptions of condom use and lengthy discussions of alternatives to intercourse.
"During that period of resounding growth for abstinence-based sex education, the percentage of high school students who say they've had sex dropped from 54 to 46. Teen pregnancy has dropped by a third, and 47 states have logged declines. Even the current Miss America, Erika Harold, won a hard-fought struggle with pageant promoters to make promoting abstinence the theme of her yearlong reign.
"Now, President Bush proposes to triple funding for abstinence-only programs, and more than 90 percent of adults say he's on the right track, that abstinence should be the standard for school-age youth."
Rebecca Hagelin, writing on "Abstinence-only sex ed," Tuesday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

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