"Eight million Iraqis, a quarter of the population, have been born since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, and nearly half the country is under 19, according to Brett McGurk, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and, until recently, senior adviser to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad," Associated Press reports. "So after years of watching U.S. soldiers on patrol, it's inevitable that hip-hop styles, tough-guy mannerisms and slangy English patter would catch on with young Iraqis. Calling themselves 'punky,' or 'hustlers,' many are donning hoodie sweatshirts, listening to 50 Cent or Eminem and watching Twilight vampire movies. They eat hamburgers and pizza and do death-defying Rollerblade runs through speeding traffic. Teens spike their hair or shave it Marine-style. … Dr. Fawzia A. al-Attia, a sociologist at Baghdad University, says one result [of U.S. culture]is that young Iraqis now reject school uniforms, engage in forbidden love affairs and otherwise rebel against their elders."
Not much dating in Japan
"Japan is in danger of heading for extinction after researchers found that more and more of the country's young people are shunning the idea of marriage and having children," The Daily Mail says. "One in four unmarried men and women in their 30s say they have never had sex, and the majority of young women prefer the single life. A record 61.4 per cent of unmarried Japanese men aged between 18 and 34 have no girlfriend, up 9.2 percentage points from 2005, the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in Japan said. The percentage of unmarried women with no boyfriend in the same age group also hit a record high of 49.5 per cent, up 4.8 points, while nearly half the respondents of both genders said they do not want to date anyone."
Emperor for life
Japan's Prince Akishino, who turned 46 this week, "has said it will become necessary to hold a public debate on whether an age limit is needed for emperors, who currently serve for life," The Japan Times reports. "The youngest son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko made the remark at a news conference he held together with his wife, Princess Kiko, 45, ahead of his birthday. The 77-year-old Emperor resumed his official duties Tuesday after being hospitalized for 19 days this month for bronchial pneumonia. Introducing a retirement age for emperors is 'one idea' and 'discussions should be held including at what age to draw the line,' [Prince Akishino] said."
Cops called to concert
"Really, who hasn't been bored to tears at a concert, recital or school play?" asks The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's police and crime blog. "But instead of snoozing, or tepidly clapping, or furtively checking an iPhone, a Bainbridge [Wash.]woman decided to yell 'Boring!' when she found a symphony performance less than satisfying. The Kitsap Sun reported that the woman was attending a Bainbridge Performing Arts show on Nov. 12, in which her teenage daughter was playing. After the woman made the comment, police asked her to leave several times, before having to physically remove her, the newspaper said. Reporter Tristan Baurick wrote: 'The (Bainbridge Performing Arts) executive director told police the woman has a professional rivalry with the new conductor and does not believe the 'boring' comment was directed at the daughter.' "
Beating a bushfire
"A man who stayed behind to defend his home from a bushfire in western Australia used scuba-diving equipment to escape the blaze," says BBC News. "While others in the town of Margaret River fled their homes, Peter Fabrici got his wife to safety and then went back to fire-proof his home. Seeing houses in the distance going up in flames, he donned wet clothing, an oxygen tank and goggles. When the flames got too close, he jumped into his neighbour's pool. … 'It was 3:04 to 3:09, I remember looking at my watch. And just looking up and seeing the red and the black going over the top. I stuck my head up at the end of the lap pool. I had a direct view of our house and I was just absolutely amazed. There were no flames coming from it.' … At least 37 homes were destroyed and some 3,177 hectares [were] burned by the bushfire."
A half-hour of secrecy
"A study," Edith Zimmerman writes for The New York Times magazine, "revealed that women wait how long, on average, before betraying a secret? … A 3,000-woman survey reportedly found that the average time of betrayal is just over half an hour. There is no word if a study for men is in the works."
Thought du jour
"Time misspent in youth is sometimes all the freedom one ever has."
Anita Brookner (1928-)