- The Washington Times - Friday, October 11, 2002

Roommate roulette

"On most college campuses, a crucial part of the freshman experience hinges on chance. First-year students often arrive at their dormitories not knowing whether their roommate will share their study habits, musical tastes or penchant for body piercings.

"A handful of institutions are trying to eliminate roommate roulette by allowing incoming students to match up with a roommate online. This year, an Atlanta-based company called WebRoomz unveiled an Internet matchmaking service online.

"Some housing officials who are critical of self-matching systems argue that part of the point of college is to learn how to get along with people with different tastes and beliefs. They worry that the systems could become tools for segregation. But housing directors at colleges that give students the option to self-match say their systems are perfectly suited to an era of computer-savvy students and consumer-minded colleges.

"Justin Webb, a freshman at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, jumped at the chance to do some reconnaissance on his potential roommate last spring.

"It's sort of like a singles ad," says Mr. Webb, who first contacted Jay Parke after seeing that his answers matched more than 70 percent of Mr. Webb's on the WebRoomz questionnaire.

"I know people here who didn't look too hard for their roommates and now they're complaining about having to put up with certain ticks. I had more of a feeling of control over the whole process. The only tick I have to put up with is his eating my doughnuts."

Eric Hoover in "Self Selection" in the Sept. 20 Chronicle of Higher Education

Picking on Paul

"As our society becomes more and more interested in 'spirituality,' we find more and more people talking in very traditional terms about Jesus while assuming that the Scripture in which he is revealed has nothing to say about any part of their lives they wish to keep to themselves.

"These people in effect separate the Gospels they accept partly because they have not read them closely from the Epistles they reject. It is usually St. Paul whose words they reject. The other New Testament writers they usually ignore, perhaps because they did not say anything so offensive to modern ears as St. Paul's instructions on men, women and sexuality.

"Those who think this way often divide Jesus the gentle prophet of love from St. Paul the rulemaker, and sometimes also divide St. Paul the apostle of freedom from St. Paul the unreformed Pharisee. Sometimes they simply talk a lot about Jesus and pretend that St. Paul did not exist.

"The first tactic seems to have been the more popular some decades ago, while the latter seems now to be the more popular of the two. It is certainly shrewder to forget to invite St. Paul to the party than to invite him and then pick a fight with him in front of the guests."

David Mills, writing on "St. Paul the Eccentric," in the October issue of Touchstone

Baby blues

"Looks like we've got a little he-said, she-said action on the Jennifer Lopez/Ben Affleck front.

"Lopez has been doing her best to quell the rumor that she and Affleck have gotten themselves in a family way. Not only is it not true, she says, but it really upsets her mother.

"'The first time it happened was the one that was most devastating to her,' she says of the effect of the baby talk on her poor mama. 'Now I'm like, "Mom, I promise, if I'm pregnant, I will call you first."'

"But if Lopez, 32, really wants the rumors to stop, she might want to tell Affleck to can it with the family-fantasy talk.

"Affleck just blabbed to Britain's Sunday Express magazine that he's really getting into the idea of settling down and multiplying.

"'I think if you're 30 and not thinking about marriage and kids,' the 30-year-old actor says, 'you're immature.'

"Hint, hint, J. Lo?"

Amy Reiter, writing on "J. Lo says no bun," Wednesday in Salon at www.salon.com

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