Magazines list what's in and what's out and persuade us that it's important to know the difference. As school begins, a child psychologist announces on television that what's in and what's out is particularly important for kids. Happy alliances that endure throughout the year will be made on the basis of what young people wear and carry with them these first days of school.

So let's get it straight: Toy Story 3 lunchboxes are very in, X-Men lunchboxes are so last year, and Superman lunchboxes are not even a blip on the screen of in-ness.

In Williamsburg, Virginia, where I live, the fraternities and sororities of The College of William & Mary invite new members in (and leave others out). What's in and what's out translates cunningly into who's in and who's out. Lest you imagine that we've left such distinctions behind with the passing years, reflect on driving through the security entrance to a gated community or walking into a hotel under a doorman's eye. Who's in and who's out is a matter of grave consequence.