UndercoverA new book, The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie is a sociological study that seeks to examine the history and culture of undies, and by extension, a society in transition. The authors find that the more religious the area — and correspondingly, conservative women's outerwear — "the more risqué the underwear." And the lingerie itself is worthy of study, "an outrageous mixture of kitsch and creativity: thongs are adorned with fake birds – 'bird’s nest' (ish al-asfour) is the slang for women’s pubic hair – or even the red rose of martyrdom, symbol of Hizbollah; bras are emblazoned with 'I love you' in Arabic and play tunes when squeezed." This lighthearted approach to sexuality is exactly the kind of truth the authors hope to illuminate. As one puts it, "modernity is the process of removing the fig leaf from our contradictions.” [FT]