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Are You Man Enough To Sport Colored Socks?

Just a splash
Just a splash
Violetta Simon

BERLIN - Men are hunters -- constantly on the lookout for challenges, for the thrill of danger. But how does our modern adventurer spice up his everyday life?

At the office for example, where instead of hunting prey figuratively or literally, he’s more likely to get his schnitzel served -- breaded and cooked by somebody else, whether he likes it or not. So what does he do? He tries to make up for it by wearing something daring. Or at least as daring as possible.

There was a day when most well-tamed men released their frustration by wearing outdoor clothing. On weekends, paper-pushers decked themselves out in trekking trousers, plaid shirts, and hiking boots with a mighty treaded sole. Their message: "I’m Indiana Jones, trapped in the body of an office worker. Need a campfire? No problem, I love sticks, twigs and birch bark."

Meanwhile things have calmed down a bit and the last remaining wearers of trekking trousers have been sent to jungle camp. In any case it was a fashion that never prevailed with executives and intellectuals. But now we are facing another trend – and this one has also caught on with artists and bankers: vividly colored socks. Even Indiana Jones legend Harrison Ford has been seen wearing bright red socks over black business shoes. How daring.

Yes, colorful socks are the last remaining fashion adventure of the domesticated male, a revolt against a deeply-inset uniformity that -- for office workers at least -- only "Casual Friday" offers a tiny bit of relief from.

Trapped in the body of a nerd

According to a report in the New York Times, colorful socks are much loved by computer programmers in Silicon Valley. It is like a secret uniform that has programmers and software developers hanging out by the water cooler making whatever little movements are needed to reveal, say, lime socks with violet polka dots or loud argyles. Here the message is: I’m a rebel, trapped in the body of a nerd.

But why the loud colors? So the guy can locate his feet more easily? So he knows where his pants end? In light of the fact that many men wear their trousers too short they would be better off trying to hide their ankle area rather than play it up. Otherwise, bright socks should stay where they belong: ecclesiastical hosiery (red socks are part of the Pope’s uniform), and far-left politicians with a sense of self-irony.

I will say one thing for fancy socks though: They are overall more discreet than that whole trekking look, confining themselves to ankles only -- unless, of course, the wearer crosses his legs. But he’ll stand up soon enough and the socks will pretty much disappear out of sight.

Despite this -- actually, because of it -- brightly colored socks are to be avoided. Such socks are not a statement; they’re a part-time rebellion, a message that only really comes through when a guy sits down. That’s when the flash of color between shoe and cuff pipes up. "Look at me!" it screams. "I’m bold and daring. But only in certain situations." Bright socks are an accessory for guys who would love to be bold but don’t have the nerve. If they did, they’d wear neon-colored suits.

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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