- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 15, 2006

Brain game

“Soccer has become a favorite pastime of the American intellectual. …

“Taking an interest in soccer indicates a certain cosmopolitanism; the game is an international one. A rooting interest in a British club like Arsenal might indicate Anglophilia, which never hurts in polite society. …

“There’s also a frisson of underworld glamour in soccer writing. To chronicle the international game is, in many cases, to mingle with thugs, hooligans, and all sorts of unsavories. … One needn’t venture to Glasgow or Rome to seek out lunch-pail pals, of course — the intellectual could just as easily find them stateside at a college football game or NASCAR event.

“Perversely, it seems easier for an American soccer fan to make common cause with Italian mobs, who might happen to be shouting pro-fascist chants, than with someone from Alabama, who might happen to be a Republican.”

— Bryan Curtis, writing on “Among the Brainiacs” on June 9 in Slate at www.slate.com

Left causes

“What makes a liberal a liberal? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately. …

“The first factor I’d suggest in the causal chain that leads liberals to their politics is abject failure. People who are frustrated by their lot in life are often drawn to liberal ideas because modern liberalism’s contempt for the free market jibes with their efforts to rationalize their disappointments. …

“But of course the majority of liberals are not abject failures. On the contrary, many have attained a considerable measure of social status and financial clout, which calls to mind another reason liberals become liberals — guilt. … The trappings of achievement — prestigious job titles, comfortable homes, swollen bank accounts — are a kind of inverse torment for such people, an ongoing crisis of authenticity, a sign of the dissolution of their identity within the marginalized group. They feel compelled, therefore, to demonstrate that their sympathies still reside with the underclass.”

— Mark Goldblatt, writing on “Liberalism, on the Couch” on June 14 in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

‘Sexy’ weddings

“Brides are hiring wedding ‘photojournalists’ to snap risque pre-ceremony photos of them — in their lingerie, in provocative poses, or even in the bathroom.

“Certainly, the phenomenon highlights just how far removed the modern wedding has become from a ceremony primarily intended to commemorate the union of a man and woman before God. … Church services are bare-bones and hastily conducted so that all in attendance can hastily decamp to the reception and get down to the real business of the day: Partying.

“In earlier times, of course, ‘sexiness’ was restricted to the honeymoon suite. …

“But even as it’s become clear that the majority of brides aren’t actually virgins on their wedding nights, symbols of chastity like veils and white dresses have nonetheless remained valued parts of bridal ceremonies. That’s true even though now, more than ever, couples are paying for their own weddings, and can therefore arrange them as they like.

“And so it’s worth asking: Why would young women continue to opt for a traditional wedding when they could skip the church, dress and veil, and simply precede a really fabulous bash with some sexy boudoir shots?”

— Carol Platt Liebau, writing on “Postmodern Bride” on June 14 in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

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