- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Baby boom

“Today fewer than 10 percent of Americans live in households of five or more people and only 1.8 percent in families of seven or more. That means that if your family consists of a mother and father and five children, you live where I do, which is statistically on the lunatic fringe. ‘Omigod, five kids?’ people gasp when I tell them. ‘Are you nuts?’

“There is, however, one corner of the U.S. where family size has suddenly expanded to titanic proportions, and it isn’t Utah. It’s Hollywood.

“Three movies out this season suggest that we are experiencing a large-family pop-cultural moment. ‘Nanny McPhee’ features seven grubby, uncontrollable children who drive away nannies by the score. ‘Cheaper by the Dozen 2,’ depicts one family of 12 cereal-spilling children and another of eight. ‘Yours, Mine & Ours’ has a gargantuan passel packed into a lighthouse. …

“Perhaps Americans are beginning to experiment, imaginatively, with departing from the tasteful, carefully planned, one- or two-child households that have been the norm for more than a generation. Perhaps, therefore, filmmakers, and audiences, are more receptive to movies about large broods.”

Meghan Cox Gurdon, “Eight Is Not Enough,” Friday in the Wall Street Journal

‘Who is listening?’

“What are the stakes? The terrorist attacks of 9/11 gave us a vivid reminder — but one, alas, that seems to have faded from the attention of many Western commentators who seem more concerned about recreational facilities at Guantanamo Bay than the future of their towns and cities. For myself, ever since 9/11, when I think about threats to democracy, I recall a statement by one Hussein Massawi, a former Hezbollah leader. … ‘We are not fighting,’ Mr. Massawi said, ‘so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.’ …

“Mr. Massawi speaks clearly, but who is listening? Our colleges and universities have been preaching the creed of multiculturalism for the last few decades. Politicians, pundits, and the so-called cultural elite have assiduously absorbed the catechism, which they accept less as an argument about the way the world should be as an affirmation of the essential virtue of their own feelings. We are now beginning to reap the fruit of that liberal experiment with multiculturalism. The chief existential symptom is moral paralysis, expressed, for example, in the inability to discriminate effectively between good and evil. The New York Times runs full-page advertisements, signed by all manner of eminent personages, that compare President Bush to Adolf Hitler.”

— Roger Kimball, writing on “After the suicide of the West,” in the January issue of the New Criterion

Lost identification

“Sports news abounds, with the talk shows easily outnumbering the games actually being played, but what’s missing still is the crazy, cozy old sense of identification that once tied the fan by the set or in the stands to the young athletes out on the field. … Professional athletes once looked like somebody we knew, that friendly young fellow down the block. … This illusion waned when everyday NBA players grew to 6 feet 8 or better and NFL linemen suddenly averaged 290 pounds and could run 40 yards in under six seconds. … Try to get down near field level before your next ballgame and take a look at Derek Jeter or Jeff Kent or Dontrelle Willis as they stroll by: wow, these guys are enormous.

Roger Angell, writing on “Up close and not personal,” in the Jan. 9 issue of the New Yorker

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