- The Washington Times - Monday, October 2, 2006

‘Free milk and a cow’

“[I]n a big press conference during the early days of his career … a TV reporter asked Elvis when [are you] ‘gonna get married, settle down and have kids like Pat Boone?’ Elvis looked sideways at the reporter, gave a little lopsided grin and answered, ‘Why should I buy a cow when I can get milk through the fence?’

“I assume he was just joking, but the remark sent shock waves through the country, convincing many parents their kids shouldn’t buy Presley records. Of course, that made many kids want them all the more. But the negative reaction was widespread and branded Elvis as ‘a dangerous influence on our kids.’

“Times have changed. The ground has shifted. Rules, moral guidelines, abstinence, marital fidelity — all have become subjects of humor, even ridicule, especially in the media.”

—Pat Boone, writing on “Feel the quake?” Saturday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Fat economics

“The Western world is, famously, full of fat kids. It is not clear why. Could it be because of the insidious power of advertising? … Or should we just blame the steady spread of fast food?

“[E]conomists … in recent years have started publishing a bewildering array of explanations for the obesity epidemic. …

“[A] trio of economists — Patricia Anderson, Kristin Butcher and Phillip Levine — has suggested that two-income families may be producing the problem. They find that children are fatter if their mothers work longer hours. …

“Despite all the concerns about childhood obesity, most of the fat people in the world are old enough to look after themselves. So, what’s going on? … First, the cost of exercise has risen: Most of us used to be paid to burn off calories in physically demanding jobs, after all. …

“Second, food technology has tipped the balance in favor of more snacking. Think of the humble potato. … It is not just that potato chips are more calorific than boiled spuds, but that they can be conveniently eaten at any time of day.”

—Tim Harford, writing on “When Moms Work, Kids Get Fat,” Saturday in Slate at www.slate.com

‘Primal’ violence

“The insurgency in Iraq seems more primal than political, a scream of impotent rage rather than violence executed in order to achieve a specific aim. There seems to be no political agenda at all, or certainly none that has been articulated. … Where foreign invasions and occupations once gave rise to national liberation or anti-colonial movements, which normally had clear political aspirations and military tactics, the invasion and occupation of Iraq has given rise to mysterious groups of suicidal jihadists. —

“In present-day Iraq, we can glimpse what violent struggle looks like in the absence of politics. Without the old structures, or any new ones to take their place, the Iraqi insurgents express no distinct political interest or ideology, show no interest in winning mass support or strength, and focus their efforts, like many others today, on making an impact through the media. The insurgents’ separation from the masses and from any clear political goals goes some way to explaining why they seem so much more unrestrained and brutal than earlier militant movements. …

“The end result is a suicidal state in Iraq, where groups destroy lives and buildings rather than trying to create an independent state built on a clear ideology with the support of large sections of the population.”

—Brendan O’Neill, writing on “Iraq: the World’s First Suicide State,” Tuesday in Spiked Online at www.spikedonline.com

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