The Rat
Monday, September 30, 2002
      ( 11:22 AM ) The Rat  
KIDS TODAY. Last Thursday's Post reported that teenagers today are more conservative than their parents on issues such as abortion and school prayer. (Going to college oughta fix that.) Today's Post, meanwhile, includes the following report (I wonder what the stripper thought of it all?)—readers of Bloom County may be reminded of the "Bash our heads! Bash our heads!" strip:

"A group of high school football players in Massachusetts turned away a bikini-clad stripper from their pregame party after a parent hired her to perform.

"'It was the right thing to do,' said Matt Beane, a varsity player from Bridgewater. "This is football; we don't do that kind of thing. All the captains have really good morals.'

Sources say Darren DeSisto, the father of a 15-year-old player who brought the woman, admitted to cops he used poor judgment."

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Thursday, September 26, 2002
      ( 11:28 AM ) The Rat  
WAYS TO ENCOURAGE HOMICIDAL RAMPAGES AMONG YOUR EMPLOYEES. Sign spotted at the McDonald's on Eighth Ave. at 34th St:

If we don't smile before you pay you get a free small fries or hash browns! Please play... try to catch us!

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:28 AM

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
      ( 10:34 PM ) The Rat  
EVE ASKS: "I mean, what did the Gharqad tree DO to become a tree of the Jews? Are its roots circumcised??"

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      ( 3:28 PM ) The Rat  
WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU!? Check out the New York Press "Best of" issue for "Best Way to Kill a Rat" (scroll down).

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      ( 3:10 PM ) The Rat  
LAST NOTE ON GIACOMETTI. I used to think he was just being artsy when he'd insist he only made his figures so tiny because people look tiny, but after reading a 1964 interview I've finally realized what he meant. And he's right (as I discovered when I tried to cross a street after reading this)—we're so schooled in seeing "conceptually" we've practically lost our raw percepts: the same way, once you know how to read, it's impossible to see words or letters and not read them.

[Rodin] took measurements... He didn’t model a head as he actually saw it in space, at a certain distance, as I see you now with this distance between us. He really wanted to make a parallel in clay, the exact equivalent of the head’s volume in space. So basically it wasn’t visual but conceptual. He knew it was round before he began: that’s to say, he started from the conventional idea of a head that had prevailed in all European sculpture since the time of the Greeks, and made a volume in space unlike anything he actually saw, because in the ordinary way it would never occur to me to get up and walk around you. If I didn’t know that your skull had a certain depth, I wouldn’t be able to guess it. So, if I made a sculpture of you according to my absolute perception of you, I would make a rather flat, scarcely modulated sculpture that would be much closer to a Cycladic sculpture, which has a stylised look, than to a sculpture by Rodin or Houdon, which has a realistic look. I think we have for so long automatically accepted the received idea of what a sculpture head should look like that we have made ourselves completely incapable of seeing a head as we really see it...

The key sculptures of almost any of the ancient civilizations are almost all on a small scale. Whether Egyptian or Sumerian or Chinese or prehistoric, they are almost always more or less the same size, and I think that this actually was the size that instinctively seemed right, the size one really sees things. And in the course of history, perception has been mentally transposed into concept. I can do your head life size because I know it’s life size. I don’t see directly any more, I see you through my knowledge…

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:10 PM

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
      ( 7:14 PM ) The Rat  
"LUCKILY, I HAD MY PENIS WITH ME!" An unusually good Onion this week—don't miss it. I was at a reading at Galapagos a couple weeks ago where one of their chief writers performed this (there were also a bunch of mediocrities from McSweeney's there, but never mind them). He looked, of course, exactly how you'd want a chief writer for The Onion to look.

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      ( 6:15 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 3:11 PM ) The Rat  
A USEFUL SITE for everyone who's ever asked himself, "How do I draw the Union Jack accurately?"

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      ( 2:39 PM ) The Rat  
CLICK HERE!! Link via Eve.

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      ( 12:05 PM ) The Rat  
RIGHT-WING NIGHTMARES, ETC. About a year ago, a lot of notice was given to Kelly Bulkeley's study finding that conservatives seem to have more nightmares than do liberals. This site goes into less-publicized aspects of Bulkeley's findings, e.g.:

—Male rights had the lowest percentage of family members and instances of sexuality, and the highest percentage of animal characters and being the aggressor.

—Male lefts had the highest frequency of female characters, and the fewest instances of aggression.

—Female lefts had the lowest percentage of being the aggressor in their dreams, and the highest frequency of friendliness and good fortunes.

—Female rights had the highest frequency of sexual interactions and physical aggression.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:05 PM

Monday, September 23, 2002
      ( 7:09 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 6:25 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 4:08 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 1:02 PM ) The Rat  
ONE OF my all-time favorite Far Sides. (If that link doesn't work, click here, then scroll down and click on "Wendell... I'm not content.")

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:02 PM

      ( 11:46 AM ) The Rat  
David Sylvester on Giacometti's surfaces:

The image of a person or an object in the Paris studio became overlaid with memories of sublime spaces. The sculptures made there provide a classic example of the common phenomenon of an artist's unconsciously finding his equivalents for the human body in the forms of his childhood surroundings. Heads and figures incorporate Stampa: the spare uprightness of the conifers on the slopes; the granite rocks in the meadows or among the trees; the blanched stony bed of the Mera; the pervasive sense of a rarefied space; above all, the sharp mountain peaks and ridges, these above all. The sculptures continually echo certain distinctive and astonishing rock formations that oddly enough do not appear elsewhere in the valley but are conspicuous in three adjacent granite peaks to the south of Stampa, the peaks dominating the view from the back of the Giacomettis' house. Working in Paris, scrutinising or recalling the head or body of someone near, he was recovering a familiar distant landscape—as he surely was whenever he stopped in his tracks in the street and stood for minutes gazing up at a tree—the paradise of childhood and home.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:46 AM

Friday, September 20, 2002
      ( 4:23 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 3:48 PM ) The Rat  
GOOD NEWS for (non-invasive) voyeurs!

Photographing or videotaping up a woman's skirt in a public place doesn't violate a voyeurism law, the [Washington] state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The unanimous ruling found that the law only protects people in places where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The court rejected prosecutors' arguments that people reasonably expect privacy under their clothing.

Wonder what the judges were wearing.

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      ( 3:41 PM ) The Rat  
I WISH we lived in a country where I could feel absolutely certain this was a joke.

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      ( 3:36 PM ) The Rat  
IN KEEPING with yesterday's Dante, how about some wop proverbs?

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      ( 10:51 AM ) The Rat  
THE RATS!! Via Shamed.

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      ( 10:49 AM ) The Rat  
CHECK OUT the cover photo on today's Post.

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      ( 10:43 AM ) The Rat  
One day, when I wanted to draw a girl, something struck me, which was that I suddenly saw that the only thing that stayed alive was her gaze. Everything else—the head turning into a skull—came to more or less the same thing as a dead man's skull. What made a difference between a dead man and the person was her gaze... New Hebrides sculpture is true, and more than true, because it has a gaze. It's not the imitation of an eye, it's purely and simply a gaze. All the rest is a prop for the gaze.
—Giacometti, quoted by David Sylvester

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:43 AM

Thursday, September 19, 2002
      ( 4:10 PM ) The Rat  
From that moment my vision was greater than our speech, which fails at such a sight, and memory too fails at such excess. Like him that sees in a dream and after the dream the passion wrought by it remains and the rest returns not to his mind, such am I; for my vision almost wholly fades, and still there drops within my heart the sweetness that was born of it. Thus the snow loses its imprint in the sun; thus in the wind on the light leaves the Sibyl's oracle was lost.
Paradiso XXXIII.55-66, trans. John D. Sinclair

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:10 PM

      ( 4:05 PM ) The Rat  
ONE MORE "55" STORY, again from The World's Shortest Stories of Love and Death. "Let's Make a Deal," by Paul Raymond Martin (p. 112):

Vanna pranced across the television screen. 'I'd kill for a body like hers.'

'That could be arranged,' offered the cherubic man on the adjacent barstool. 'Say... one murder per fortnight?'

'I accept your terms, sir,' she laughed, ordering another martini.

Crushing the pedestrian on her drive home was an accident.

The first time.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:05 PM

      ( 3:41 PM ) The Rat  
SO I JUST PLAYED HOOKY for a couple hours (note to any bosses who see this: that was a typo, I of course meant "ten minutes"), wandering over to East Village Books (St. Marks, off First) for a nooner. On the way out, after buying several far more respectable books, stumbled on The World's Shortest Stories of Love and Death going for $2 in the junk bin. Have been reading it on the bus rides back, which wound up taking awhile (bosses: by which I mean "really not very long at all") anyway.

My best friend gave me the first volume of these a few years ago. They grew out of "55 Fiction," a contest sponsored by the New Times and challenging entrants to submit entire short stories—complete with characters, setting, beginning, middle, and end—in at most 55 words.

Yeah, it's a gimmick, and—how shall I say—not precisely what you might call kitsch-free; but the winners in vol. 2 seem to me better than my memory, at any rate, of those in vol. 1. Here's my favorite (as of p. 65), by one Jeffrey Scott Baker:

They had exchanged Christmas gifts joyfully. It had all seemed so right at the time. And it made perfect sense, considering their current financial circumstances. Times were hard, yet love prevailed.

But then he had a sudden thought: 'Her hair will grow back, but my watch is GONE!'

Outside, the harsh December snow fell.

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      ( 3:29 PM ) The Rat  
AWESOME Scalia anecdote. Link via Eve.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002
      ( 5:32 PM ) The Rat  
THIS is funny, even if none of your best friends are Irish. More funny pics here (my favorite may be this one; this is also pretty good). Links via Shamed.

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      ( 4:37 PM ) The Rat  
SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Apropos of nothing, here's a great site with pretty much all the Monty Python scripts extant (except maybe the ones they filmed in German). Naming a favorite sketch would be like identifying a favorite line from The Lion in Winter, so I won't try, but click here for a sketch about advertising, my next-to-last profession, that I just sent to a friend.

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      ( 12:10 PM ) The Rat  
THE SATANIC RAT THAT WOULD NOT DIE. Courtesy (if that's the word) of Eve.

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      ( 10:49 AM ) The Rat  
I brought all this on myself by telling Ramona the story of my life—how I rose from humble origins to complete disaster.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:49 AM

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
      ( 3:50 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 1:58 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:35 AM ) The Rat  
Was this perhaps the way to live? he wondered. Had he had trouble enough, and paid his debt to suffering and earned the right to ignore what anyone might think? He clasped Ramona closer, felt that she was swelling, bursting, heart in the body, body in the tight-fitting red dress. She gave him still another perfumed kiss. On the sidewalk before the window of her shop were daisies, lilacs, small roses, flats with tomato and pepper seedlings for transplanting, all freshly watered. There stood the green pot with its perforated brass spout. Drops of water assumed blurred shapes on the cement. In spite of the buses which glazed the air with stinking gases, he could smell the fresh odor of soil, and he heard the women passing by, the rapid knocking of their heels on the crusty pavement. So between the amusement of the cabbie and the barely controlled censure of Miss Schwartz's eyes behind the leaves, he went on kissing Ramona's painted, fragrant face. Within the great open trench of Lexington Avenue, the buses pouring poison but the flowers surviving, garnet roses, pale lilacs, the cleanliness of the white, the luxury of the red, and everything covered by the gold overcast of New York. Here, on the street, as far as character and disposition permitted, he had a taste of the life he might have led if he had been simply a loving creature.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:35 AM

Monday, September 16, 2002
      ( 11:36 AM ) The Rat  
EXCELLENT TIMES MAGAZINE story on Pauline Nyiramasuhoko, Rwanda's minister for women's affairs at the time of the 1994 war, now on trial for genocide. An excruciating read.

Shortly afterward, according to another witness, Pauline arrived at a compound where a group of Interahamwe was guarding 70 Tutsi women and girls. One Interahamwe, a young man named Emmanuel Nsabimana, told me through a translator that Pauline ordered him and the others to burn the women. Nsabimana recalled that one Interahamwe complained that they lacked sufficient gasoline. ''Pauline said, 'Don't worry, I have jerrycans of gasoline in my car,' '' Nsabimana recalled. ''She said, 'Go take that gasoline and kill them.' I went to the car and took the jerrycans. Then Pauline said, 'Why don't you rape them before you kill them?'"

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      ( 11:17 AM ) The Rat  
He had learned several interesting things about pornography. Namely: 1) it wore out; 2) it reactivated itself if you looked at it upside down; and 3) you could recycle it if you put it away for several months.
—Armistead Maupin, Significant Others

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:17 AM

Friday, September 13, 2002
      ( 4:42 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 4:05 PM ) The Rat  
I WAS MESSALINA on that I, Claudius quiz I sent Eve. Big surprise.

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      ( 3:23 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 2:52 PM ) The Rat  
AN AWESOME HEADLINE. Via OpinionJournal.

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      ( 12:59 PM ) The Rat  
NEWS FLASH. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that scientists have established "a link between drinking alcohol and perceptions of beauty":

The researchers wanted to measure the infamous phenomenon by which members of the opposite sex become more attractive as one drinks more alcohol.

They discovered that men and women who have drunk a moderate amount of alcohol find the faces of the opposite sex 25 per cent more attractive than do their sober counterparts.

The study revealed that there was no difference in the beer goggles effect between men and women...

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      ( 12:57 PM ) The Rat  
INCIDENTALLY, that sign was gone when I looked this morning. Maybe now it's a crack house?

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Thursday, September 12, 2002
      ( 4:43 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 12:31 PM ) The Rat  
IT'S A CRACK HOME. So I'm living in Hell's Kitchen now, where it borders the Fashion and Theater districts. En route to the M16 (how cool is that) bus yesterday, noticed a sign taped to a front door. I think the exclamation point is what makes it:


# Posted by The Rat @ 12:31 PM

      ( 11:49 AM ) The Rat  
ACK! My eyes! My eyes! Check out the cover of the new National Review. All told I think I preferred our swimsuit issue (issue date November 19, 2001, with cover story by Wm. F. Buckley Jr.).

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:49 AM

      ( 11:49 AM ) The Rat  
What had happened to her? Why was she losing her grip? When did she first peer up from the dark, wretched pit of her life and see that the walls were unscalable?

And why hadn't she bought more Quaaludes?

More Tales of the City

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:49 AM

Wednesday, September 11, 2002
      ( 10:26 AM ) The Rat  
FUND for the children of fallen Special Operations fighters. If you don't already know why you need to do this, read more here. Excerpt:

Since the tragic day of September 11th, thirty Special Operations members have lost their lives leaving behind 33 children. Today, over 370 such deserving children exist who should not be denied the education their fallen parent would surely have wanted for them. Currently an annual estimated outlay of nearly $1.2 million is required to meet this need through the year 2020.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:26 AM

      ( 10:24 AM ) The Rat  
RICK BROOKHISER on our city, one year after.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:24 AM

Tuesday, September 10, 2002
      ( 8:58 PM ) The Rat  
A FRIEND SENDS the following, purportedly (but I haven't verified) from the Lonely Hearts column of Ireland's Own. Why do I feel like I, or female friends of mine, have dated most of these guys...

Grossly overweight Louth turfcutter, 42 years old and 23 stone, Gemini, seeks nimble sexpot, preferably South American, for tango sessions, candlelit dinners and humid nights of screaming passion. Must have own car and be willing to travel.

Following a sad recent loss, teetotal Tipperary man, 53, seeks replacement mammy. Must like biscuits and answer to the name Minnie. Thurles area.

Galway man, 50, in desperate need of a ride. Anything considered.

Heavy drinker, 35, Cork area, seeks gorgeous sex addict interested in pints, fags, Glasgow Celtic football club and starting scraps on Patrick Street at three in the morning.

Bitter, disillusioned Kerryman lately rejected by longtime fiancée seeks decent, honest, reliable woman, if such a thing still exists in this cruel world of hatchet-faced bitches.

Ginger-haired Galwegian trouble-maker, gets slit-eyed and shirty after a few scoops, seeks attractive, wealthy lady for bail purposes, maybe more.

Artistic Clare woman, 53, petite, loves rainy walks on the beach, writing poetry, unusual sea-shells and interesting brown rice dishes, seeks mystic dreamer for companionship, back rubs and more as we bounce along like little tumbling clouds on life's beautiful crazy journey. Strong stomach essential.

Chartered accountant, 42, seeks female for marriage. Duties will include cooking, light cleaning and accompanying me to office social functions. References required. No timewasters.

Bad-tempered, foul-mouthed old bastard living in a damp cottage in the arse end of Roscommon seeks attractive 21 year old blonde lady with big chest.

Devil-worshiper, Offaly area, seeks like minded lady for wining and dining, good conversation, dancing, romantic walks and slaughtering cats in cemeteries at midnight under the flinty light of a pale moon.

Attractive brunette, Macroom area, winner of Miss Wrangler competition at Jolenes Nightclub, Macroom, in September 1978, seeks nostalgic man who's not afraid to cry for long nights spent comfort drinking and listening to old Abba records. Please, Please!

Limerick man, 27, medium build, brown hair, blue eyes, seeks alibi for the night of February 27 between 8pm and 11.30pm.

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      ( 12:59 PM ) The Rat  
I WONDER IF THIS means panda porn works?

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:59 PM

Monday, September 09, 2002
      ( 2:00 PM ) The Rat  
SINGLE WHITE OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE SEEKS SAME. EXACTLY THE SAME. NYC analyst plans to launch a dating service: "In contrast to standard, self-composed dating pitches—'great sense of humor, loves the outdoors'—clients of TheraDate will be assessed on such factors as obsessiveness, defense mechanisms and nervous tics."

I'm starting to think we should eliminate the entire press corps in this country and just have The Onion cover all our news.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:00 PM

      ( 1:58 PM ) The Rat  
JUST FOR THE RECORD, Mr. Attenborough, we don't like you either.

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      ( 1:54 PM ) The Rat  
Someone asked Churchill about his relationship to the church. Was he a pillar of the church perhaps like [Edward Wood, Lord] Halifax? No, said Churchill: but he was a flying buttress.
—John Lukacs, Five Days in London: May 1940

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:54 PM

Friday, September 06, 2002
      ( 1:33 PM ) The Rat  
BARBARA EHRENREICH (whom I reviewed here) would hate this website.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:33 PM

      ( 10:56 AM ) The Rat  
I CAN'T FIND A LINK for this—or any other paper that seems to have covered it—but Jacob Gershman reports in a New York Sun cover story that New York will be snubbing Taiwan at the 9/11 ceremony:

In a bow to the State Department, Mayor Bloomberg's office has denied Taiwan, a democratic nation that lost nine people in last year's attacks on the World Trade Center, an invitation to participate in Wednesday's memorial service for September 11 victims...

The move also raises questions about the ideals that will be expressed at the memorial service. Many have spoken of the attack on America as an attack against freedom and democracy. Taiwan comes closer than Communist China to those ideals, democracy activists say. But it is the Communists who will appear at Wednesday's ceremony...

'I'm disappointed in the fact that we had people who had died, and that we are working with the U.S. government in this war against terrorism, and we will not be there," [Taipei Economic and Cultural Office director Andrew] Hsia said. He said the mayor's decision is also a blow to the 'large group' of Taiwanese who are coming to New York 'to pay tribute to the victims...'

Mr. Gershman notes that Bloomberg "risks offending Taiwanese New Yorkers"; and sure, this Taiwanese New Yorker counts herself offended. But note that I said "offended"—not "surprised." If the Taiwanese weren't used to this kind of bullshit they'd have gotten nothing done since 1979, rather than becoming the 14th-largest economy in the world and America's 7th-largest trading partner. (Taiwan has a population of 22 million, about the size of Venezuela's.)

The upside of all the diplomatic doublespeak: at least we don't belong to the United Nations.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:56 AM

      ( 10:49 AM ) The Rat  
STUDIES SUGGEST trauma "debriefings" don't help and may harm.

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      ( 10:48 AM ) The Rat  
NEW EVIDENCE in the 1989 Central Park jogger case.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:48 AM

Thursday, September 05, 2002
      ( 10:54 AM ) The Rat  
I switched the engine off and got out. I never like leaving the old car running in neutral, I'm always half afraid she'll shake her mudguards off or something. She's a 1927 model, and she's done a biggish mileage. When you lift the bonnet and look at the engine it reminds you of the old Austrian Empire, all tied together with bits of string but somehow keeps plugging along.
Coming Up for Air

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:54 AM

      ( 10:54 AM ) The Rat  
I am now reading Kermode. Sample sentence:
But literal disconfirmation is thwarted by typology, arithmology, and perhaps by the buoyancy of chiliasts in general.

On the plus side, Coming Up for Air was a lot of fun, though a bit self-indulgent. For example, it's written in first person, but he didn't do a hell of a lot of work crafting a real narrative voice (mainly keeps having the narrator remind you he's fat, to distinguish himself I suppose from Orwell, who wasn't). Then again that's largely what makes it a pleasure to read, so whatever.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:54 AM

Tuesday, September 03, 2002
      ( 3:36 PM ) The Rat  
People took politics seriously in those days. They used to begin storing up rotten eggs weeks before an election.
—George Orwell, Coming Up for Air

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      ( 3:30 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 3:24 PM ) The Rat  
BOY, IS THIS GIRL GOING TO REGRET IT WHEN SHE HITS PUBERTY. Eleven-year-old British girl implanted with microchip so her parents can trace her movements in the event of a kidnapping.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:24 PM

      ( 11:46 AM ) The Rat  
THIS is great. Link via Eve.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:46 AM

A page I'm starting to get the overlords at to stop $#@! bugging me

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