- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

'Underdog overload'
"Brazil has won the World Cup. And all I can say (in the words of the Ninth Circuit) is thank Zeus, Jesus and Vishnu for that.
"I say that not as one of those unenlightened American soccer haters. I really enjoy the game.
"No, the reason the world should be rejoicing in the end of World Cup 2002 is simply because it was one of the dullest tournaments on record. And this dullness was for the exact same reason so many Americans thought they should be excited: All the wrong teams kept winning.
"Even as the U.S. press was reveling in underdog stories, fans in the rest of the world had sadly resigned themselves to a remainder that would be slow, defensive and eminently predictable.
"It was underdog overload.
"As I rooted for England against Argentina, I wasn't doing it just because I wanted Michael Owen to outscore Gabriel Batistuta. I wanted Argentina to pay for Diego Maradona's cheating handball-goal against England in 1986. I wanted them to pay for getting star midfielder David Beckham sent off in the second round of the 1998 World Cup with some Broadway-style overacting.
"No such drama in the underdog category. OK, the U.S. and Mexico have had some past grueling matchups, and maybe, just maybe, some U.S. fans were shouting 'Remember the Alamo' at the second goal."
Kimberly A. Strassel, writing on "Too Many Underdogs," Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal

The Barbie wars
"Barbie is a girl with a reputation: She's big-breasted, man-mad, and a bad role model. No wonder she is an unwanted guest at some birthday parties, where mothers of 4-year-olds frown at the sight of the dreaded pink box. Barbie's long been in trouble with feminists, educationists, and snooty middle-class parents.
"And yet, she's still selling by the millions.
"In Seattle, where I raised two kids, mothers say proudly, 'My daughter was never interested in Barbie. We don't really care for pink, and we prefer non-stereotyped toys.' But Barbie is a feminist, the best kind: She's self-actualized, gorgeous, and gets on with life.
"The age of Barbie users has fallen drastically. Girls used to play with them into their early teens, but modern girls are ready to give them away by around 8. I'd defend Barbie for any age group, but it is especially hard to imagine her doing any harm to these little ones. They're playing with a glam big sister who looks good, has fun with her buddies, does wild and exciting things, comes in every race and color imaginable, and has a great job (paleontologist Barbie wore the neatest shorts as she looked for fossils)."
Moira Redmond, writing on "Give Pink a Chance," Monday in Slate at www.slate.com

Conflicted socialists
The pro-Palestine movement "faces some internal challenges."
"Members of the International Socialist Organization have been very involved in campus organizing against the occupation. It's too soon to say whether this is good or bad for the cause.
"Some fellow progressives see ISO members as hard-working, articulate activists with an intelligent analysis of the issues, whose work strengthens student organizations. Others find them heavy-handed and controlling, and as with most party-building activists, critics worry that their main allegiance is to the party rather than a specific campaign or issue. The truth varies dramatically, depending on the individuals involved and the existing campus political culture.
"But their presence often does create political tensions: While many groups reflexively condemn suicide bombings, the ISO takes a more conflicted view. 'We don't support suicide bombings, but we believe that there is a difference between the violence born out of desperation and the systematic state violence of Israel,' explains Snehal Shingavi, an ISO member and Berkeley leader of Students for Justice in Palestine."
Liza Featherstone, writing on "The Mideast War Breaks Out on Campus," in the June 17 issue of the Nation

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