The Rat
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
      ( 4:13 PM ) The Rat  
MAYBE IT'S TIME WE RECONSIDERED COMMUNISM. "Snow samples" from last week's blizzard are selling for as much as $77 on ebay.

Presumably the buyers would be sorry to hear that this ebay auction is only a parody.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:13 PM

      ( 3:13 PM ) The Rat  
"NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO BE SUBJECTED TO AN ERECT PENIS WITHOUT HIS OR HER EXPRESS PERMISSION OR CONSENT." A letter to the Harvard Crimson by one of the students who destroyed the nine-foot-tall snow phallus other students had erected (so to speak) in Harvard Yard.

Good thing nobody told these people about the penis shrine I blogged last month.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:13 PM

      ( 2:53 PM ) The Rat  
NAURU IN THE NEWS. A weird, weird story.

The tiny Pacific island of Nauru has spent weeks completely cut off from the outside world after its telecommunications network collapsed. Its isolation is so complete that no one is even sure who the country's president is any more.

Nauru, an isolated speck in the southwest Pacific with a population of 12,000, is in a "critical situation," according to the last message received by the outside world...

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      ( 2:48 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:11 AM ) The Rat  
FURTHER EVIDENCE those co-op boards don't fuck around.

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      ( 11:10 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:08 AM ) The Rat  
THE RAT WANTS one of these.

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      ( 11:07 AM ) The Rat  
LATEST JOHN CAGE NEWS. This wasn't a Monty Python sketch, but it should have been. (Actually it is reminiscent of "International Hide-and-Seek.")

The first notes in the longest and slowest piece of music in history, designed to go on for 639 years, are being played on a German church organ on Wednesday. The three notes, which will last for a year-and-a-half, are just the start of the piece, called As Slow As Possible...

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      ( 11:06 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:04 AM ) The Rat  
"That's quite a dress you almost have on."
An American in Paris

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:04 AM

Monday, February 24, 2003
      ( 1:22 PM ) The Rat  
TO THE GOOGLE SEARCHER who came here looking for "until + I + discovered + Smirnoff": Welcome.

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      ( 12:52 PM ) The Rat  
REPRESS FOR SUCCESS? Interesting piece on the uses and disadvantages of therapy in coping with trauma, from the NYTM.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:52 PM

      ( 12:44 PM ) The Rat  
"FEMINIST PIONEER OR WOMAN OF EVIL?" (Quoting the program at a screening of Triumph of the Willat the Museum of the Moving Image.) I haven't anything new to contribute to criticism/appreciation of the film, but I will note that it was absurd how hard the presenters tried to excuse Riefenstahl's collaborationism on "Well, but she was a woman" grounds. It isn't as though there weren't German women, even German women in film, who opposed the Nazis—this one for instance.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:44 PM

      ( 12:40 PM ) The Rat  

A police officer showed up at her apartment door minutes after she completed her work.

"He said that I should cut off her breasts, but I said no woman wants that," Lynn, 35, said.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:40 PM

      ( 12:29 PM ) The Rat  

Sherrin made a joke about the British [on BBC Radio 4] and sought to balance it with a series of jokes about the French, he reveals in a letter to The Times today.

He said the French would enjoy a joke about the British: “What do you call a pretty girl in London?” “A tourist.”

That made it on to the broadcast, but these jokes did not: “What do you call a Frenchman advancing on Baghdad?” “A salesman”; “What is the difference between a road accident involving a hedgehog and a Frenchman?” “There are skid marks before the hedgehog”; and “What do you call 20 French politicans face down in the English Channel?” “A start.”

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:29 PM

      ( 12:25 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 12:11 PM ) The Rat  
FROM THE "HMM..." FILES: Anti-war German stabs pro-war American in brawl over Iraq.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:11 PM

      ( 12:08 PM ) The Rat  
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep:

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with false love or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


(Posted by the Rat, who found 7 grey hairs—a new record—last night.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:08 PM

Friday, February 21, 2003
      ( 6:48 PM ) The Rat  
Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

—G. K. Chesterton

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:48 PM

      ( 3:46 PM ) The Rat  
IN ABOUT AN HOUR, as I noted yesterday on The Corner, some antiwar protestors in Chicago are marching from Clark and Randolph to the Leo Burnett building. Leo Burnett is one of the largest advertising agencies in the world; Students 4 Social Justice claims they're a "war profiteer" because they do the advertising for the U.S. Army.

Click here for some more intelligent (not that that's a high bar) criticism of Burnett's handling of that account.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:46 PM

      ( 3:28 PM ) The Rat  
"I don't remember what I majored in in college... I hate to guess, I'm gonna guess it was political science, but I'm not sure, it might have been history. I'll check, I hadn't thought of that one."
—Carol Mosley-Braun (ex-senator and, as of this quote, the Rat's new hero), answering a question on C-SPAN

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:28 PM

      ( 3:26 PM ) The Rat  
I SHOULD HAVE INCLUDED THIS in my list of paranoias.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:26 PM

      ( 3:18 PM ) The Rat  

In the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 1953, an amateur astronomer in Oklahoma photographed what he believed to be a massive, white-hot fireball of vaporized rock rising from the center of the Moon's face. If his theory was right, Dr. Leon Stuart would be the first and only human in history to witness and document the impact of an asteroid-sized body impacting the Moon's scarred exterior...

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      ( 3:10 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 2:52 PM ) The Rat  

"commitmentphobic + men"
"voyeur + photos + parked + couples"
"lonely-hearts + column"
"donate + sperm"
"cycladic + sculpture"
"smirnoff + rat + ad"
"poisonous + rat"
"free + plump + boobs"

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:52 PM

      ( 12:14 PM ) The Rat  
THE RAT IS IN THE MOOD TO DEBUNK SOMETHING, so for an easy target she's going to take this "online mindreader," which a friend just sent. It (and another, more elaborate but also less foolproof one here) ultimately comes down to leading the reader to arrive at a multiple of nine. For instance, in the first page linked to above, you're told to choose any two-digit number, add the digits together, and subtract the total from your original number. No matter what two digits you choose, though, this will give you a multiple of nine (99 - 18 = 72; 62 - 8 = 54; etc.); and all the multiples of nine correspond to the same sign on the chart. (The page actually scrambles the symbols around each time you refresh, but the multiples of nine always share a symbol.)

Okay, I feel better.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:14 PM

      ( 12:03 PM ) The Rat  
HEADLINE OF THE DAY, courtesy of Shamed.

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      ( 12:02 PM ) The Rat  
"Occasionally I always drink too much."
Cry Danger

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Thursday, February 20, 2003
      ( 4:37 PM ) The Rat  
MAGICIAN TO SPEND TWO DAYS ENCASED IN CHEDDAR. This will be the last cheese-themed item today. I hope.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:37 PM

      ( 3:08 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 3:07 PM ) The Rat  
GRAB HOLD OF YOUR GOUDA. Thieves make off with $10,000 worth of cheese.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:07 PM

      ( 3:06 PM ) The Rat  
"IT IS CERTAINLY AGAINST ISLAM TO BEAT A GOOD WIFE." Saudi newspaper goes out on a limb. Via OpinionJournal.

An erring wife should be warned first and advised. If that does not work, then the husband could give her a light beating, the purpose of that being to embarrass rather than inflict pain.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:06 PM

      ( 3:05 PM ) The Rat  
"You know, the law isn't for people like us."
"What is?"
"Well, that's another thing I've been trying to figure out for years."
—Lola Lane and Bette Davis, Marked Woman

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:05 PM

Wednesday, February 19, 2003
      ( 5:46 PM ) The Rat  
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS STORY is that it contains the phrase "lesbian Japanese monkeys."

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:46 PM

      ( 5:42 PM ) The Rat  
Coworker A. "This is [...], she's going to be interning with us."
Coworker B. "Have you shown her the haggis yet?"
—just overheard

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      ( 5:38 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  
MEMBERS OF SWINGERS' CLUB SUE. "They believe their lives were put in disarray for no reason," an attorney explains.

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      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  
WANNA LIVE IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE? Try reading the Yale Daily News. Thanks to the now-defunct Widening Gyre for the link.

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      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  
SENATOR PROPOSES COMMISSION TO STUDY WHAT HAS GONE WRONG FOR THE AMERICAN MALE. Response of Sen. Mary Lundby (R.): "I think Senator Miller didn't get enough caffeine this morning."

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:56 PM

      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  
AFFIRMATIVE-ACTION BAKE SALES at Berkeley and Michigan. Wish I'd thought of this back when I was at Northwestern and some idiots staged a hunger strike to demand an Asian-American Studies program. (I was accused of "proudly flaunting a badge of ignorance" for opposing the strike.)

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      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  
WOMAN CHASED BY FAKE ALIEN SUES REALITY TV SHOW. Imagine the lawsuits if it had been a real alien!

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:56 PM

      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  
CHECK OUT this new aquarium, and these bike-powered PCS.

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      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 4:56 PM ) The Rat  
"That isn't the way to play it."
"Why not?"
"'Cause it isn't the way to win."
"Is there a way to win?"
"Well, there's a way to lose more slowly."
—Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer, Out of the Past

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:56 PM

Tuesday, February 18, 2003
      ( 8:44 PM ) The Rat  
"WHILE IT'S TRUE THAT LOVE MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS TO DIFFERENT PEOPLE, YOU'LL BE SADDENED BY HOW MANY PEOPLE THINK IT INCLUDES SHINY OBJECTS." (This week's Onion horoscope for Capricorn.) The Oligarch has some comments on Elinor's and my diamond posts. Actually, mine was not so much a post, as an excuse to link to that De Beers parody. I wasn't trying to make any greater claim with it than that, hello, it's funny. But it is true that I'm a bitter enemy of the De Beers ads; so with that said, here are some thoughts on O.O.'s latest:

1) I'll concede that what the diamond ads are offering is understandably a hot commodity, since we have been, since time immemorial, the enigmatic sex. (Think Sam Malone: "Women! How many do you have to sleep with before you can understand just one!?") "How to make the woman happy is often a completely opaque mystery to men… [e]specially early in the relationship," O.O. writes. True enough. But how often do men buy diamonds early in the relationship? And if you know some, could you give them my number?

2) Validation-through-spending has its place. I'm not suggesting that diamonds/money should be traded for affection, love, and/or the exchange of bodily fluids; but one of the best bits of relationship advice I ever heard was to consider what and how a man spends money as one guide (one guide, I said) to what he is, and what you are to him. That is, if the guy tends to spend money only on things like dinners and dates, but never gives you things for yourself, you may need to think twice about whether he thinks of you more as an accessory or as a woman. I'm sorry to say that when I've tested this theory, it's been proved valid.

3) O.O. calls De Beers's commodity "the foolproof way to cut through all that feminine emotional complexity and wow her with an unambiguous display of your love." For me, the problem here is the word foolproof. Even if diamonds were foolproof (which they're not—quite), that seems to me demeaning to both parties. (If the point is just to blow a lot of money, after all, why not get her a nice Velazquez?) And this is why I like that De Beers parody—not because I think most men are trying to buy affection with diamonds, but because the ads imply a standardization of personality and desire for both sexes. This is not to imply I'm against a certain degree of uniformity: Wedding vows, and tradition in general, are a good idea, and self-penned wedding vows are almost always a flop. What I object to about the De Beers pitch is that it's drummed into our heads from birth onward that we aren't fully women until we've conned a man out of a diamond (which, by the way, is part of why women react to them so excitedly); and that the man isn't as worthwhile a man until he's forked over said diamond.

A lot of things are foolproof, but the gifts that are tend also to be the more impersonal ones. This is why I dislike giving or receiving gift certificates—even for books, the staff of life. They strip the transaction of a good deal of its thought, love, and originality. I'm also a longtime fan of Holly Golightly's verdict that only women over 40 should ever wear diamonds. (To my knowledge my parents never did the diamond thing, preferring other stones à la Elinor.)

4) As a footnote to no. 3. One De Beers ad comes to mind quickest, perhaps because I just saw it a couple of nights ago: a two-page spread, with, on the left, a diamond ring and the headline "Where'd you get that diamond?"—and, on the right, the same ring but with even larger diamonds, headlined: "Where'd you get that man?" Could the message here be any more demeaning—to both sexes?

5) Perhaps another reason for my annoyance on this issue is revealed in O.O.'s phrase "the V-day spate of DeBeer's diamond commercials." I am relieved to learn O.O. doesn't read fashion or health magazines; if he did, he would know that they're peppered with those fucking ads all year-round. Said ads are particularly irritating to women whose potential beaus have primarily been men they could, or do, outperform in the marketplace—and there are more of such women than most men seem to think.*

*I should add that I've known cases where the man had to scrimp and save in order to haul the rock home from the kill like in that Gary Larson cartoon: sometimes precisely for a woman who makes more, or manages it better, than he does. That is intensely romantic, and admirable—but, obviously, the romance and beauty of that gesture aren't a result of the diamond! Just as much effort, devotion, etc., could be channeled into something that does not possibly have a sketchy provenance.

6) All that said, the De Beers thing isn't going away anytime soon, which is why this isn't something I generally bother fighting over. Diamonds have taken their place along with "something old, something new," etc., and it would be a Herculean task to dislodge them now. It's also possible I'd have been less irked by all this just a few decades ago—"Talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me all about it!" and the bargaining, in early Ian Fleming, for clips from Van Cleef & Arpels and so on, seem to me more charming than anything else. (Which is, I know, a little ridiculous, since sexism was also more socially acceptable then.) But then I feel much the same about Mad. Ave. itself—clever and creative in the Sixties, but basically played today.

7) Here is an Atlantic article on how De Beers did it. And, details on a very cool heist somebody just managed to pull off. And, lyrics to a relevant song.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:44 PM

      ( 4:51 PM ) The Rat  

Billed as "The Godfather for a new generation," Oligarch is Vladimir's first Russian-language film since The Captain's Daughter.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:51 PM

      ( 4:34 PM ) The Rat  

Klein said that clothes-shopping, once considered a mundane act with few sociopolitical implications, is now a bold feminist statement.

"Shopping for shoes has emerged as a powerful means by which women assert their autonomy," Klein said. "Owning and wearing dozens of pairs of shoes is a compelling way for a woman to announce that she is strong and independent, and can shoe herself without the help of a man. She's saying, 'Look out, male-dominated world, here comes me and my shoes.'"

The study also cites the act of pumping one's raised fist in a gesture of female solidarity against the oppressive forces of air pressure...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:34 PM

      ( 11:30 AM ) The Rat  
SPEED PUBLISHING. "Generally, people associate writing a book with years of brain-racking and reflection. We wanted to make the point that print literature can still hold its own in the age of the Internet."

Compare with Python's Novel Writing sketch.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:30 AM

      ( 11:29 AM ) The Rat  
CONVERSATION WITH A FRIEND YESTERDAY REMINDED ME of the lesbian cowboy joke, an old favorite.

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      ( 11:17 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:06 AM ) The Rat  

Venice mayor Paolo Costa and one of its most illustrious residents, designer Philippe Starck, launched the logo on Friday, urging fans of the famed canal city to seek a stamp of approval for everything from Italian restaurants to gift stores.

"This is not about selling more, it is a moral obligation," said Starck, a French architect and designer who has become a Venetian citizen and bought three houses there.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:06 AM

      ( 10:55 AM ) The Rat  
NEW RESEARCH on false memories.

Elizabeth Loftus, professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, described studies in which more than one-third of the subjects could be persuaded they had experiences that turned out to be demonstrably false.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:55 AM

      ( 10:54 AM ) The Rat  
"They want you to talk on the crisis of faith."
"What's that?"
"Oh, I thought you'd know. You're the writer."
The Third Man

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:54 AM

Monday, February 17, 2003
      ( 2:40 PM ) The Rat  
BARBARA DAFOE WHITEHEAD: "Educated single women are less likely to cohabit than those with lower levels of educational attainment, a reversal of the pattern in the 1970s and 1980s. I expect this trend will continue and perhaps lead to a rejection of cohabitation among more educated women." Full story here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:40 PM

      ( 2:37 PM ) The Rat  
LOONEY-TUNES-ESQUE. Via News of the Weird.

On Jan. 6, according to police in Prestonburg, Ky., Quinton G. Bailey, 20, was caught preparing to re-enter the apartment below his, by way of a hole in his floor (obscured by removable ceiling tile in that apartment); a box of that tenant's jewelry was found in Bailey's apartment. And on Jan. 27, according to police in Plainville, Conn., Jimmy Tran, 32, sawed through his own ceiling and the floor of the apartment above his and was caught by the female tenant after he had reached out and was dragging her purse along her floor toward the hole. [Floyd County Times, 1-8-02] [Hartford Courant-AP, 1-29-03]

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      ( 2:36 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 2:32 PM ) The Rat  
"It's never easy making your own husband happy. It's much easier to make someone else's husband happy."
—attributed to Zsa Zsa Gabor

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:32 PM

Friday, February 14, 2003
      ( 5:41 PM ) The Rat  
WHAT COLOR IS YOUR RAT? From this page.

For that matter, every animal in the same species looks identical but has a slightly different color scheme. For example, the poisonous rat is green, the rock rat is grey, and the lust rat is red—the color of HOT STEAMY LOVE.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:41 PM

      ( 5:06 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 12:11 PM ) The Rat  
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY FROM THE RAT! Here's something suitable from the New York Press.

Double Exposure. Picking up photos at Duane Reade, we couldn't help but be held prisoner to the counter girls' debate on post-partum scarring. 'My walls are tight,' one exclaimed. 'I didn't have sex for a whole year. I wanted it all to close up again.' Us: head down, praying for exact change. The other: 'Why'd you wait so long?' The first: 'I wasn't going to screw with my body. Now I'm good—on the outside and the inside.' We finally make it out the door and stumble upon a man crouched against a car facing us. In his hands, a half-mast, uncircumcised cock of significant size. Urinating. We reach our office and close the door, head filled with an uncharacteristic fear of both sexes.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:11 PM

      ( 12:04 PM ) The Rat  
ELINOR'S SEMI-ANNUAL DIAMOND RANT. And, here is a great parody of those De Beers ads, though those with finer sensibilities are cautioned not to click on it.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:04 PM

      ( 11:59 AM ) The Rat  

Sumo wrestlers will be enlisted to fight the growing crime rate by conducting a nighttime patrol of the area around their Edogawa-ku stable from this week. Officials from the Isenoumi Stable hope that their hefty help will not only thin out the ranks of criminals, but also swell the number of fans of the ancient sport.

"Anybody thinking of committing a crime would run away if they were confronted by a sumo wrestler," Isenoumi Stablemaster Fujinokawa said.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:59 AM

      ( 11:44 AM ) The Rat  
GOTTA LOVE THE FRONT COVER PHOTO on today's New York Post. And here is a pic of a chocolate-covered Volkswagen.

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      ( 11:42 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:41 AM ) The Rat  
BEST OF THIS WEEK'S SEARCH REQUESTS. I'm just going to start posting these every Friday.

"rat + in + pants"
"porn + rat" (yes, again—four times; also, "rat + porn")
"cambodian + rat"
"christianity + is + for + losers"
"kafka + cheese + rat"
"words + for + rat"
"skull + of + a + rat"
"rat + my + boobs"
"Kim + Cattrall + boobs"
"stares + and + stares"
"fighting + without + the + French + is" (The suspense is killing me on this one. —Ed.)
"jordanian + feet + fetish"

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:41 AM

      ( 11:38 AM ) The Rat  
CHEESE-EATING SURRENDER MONKEYS, CTD. Further proof the English language is superior to French. Via the Corner via Shamed.

The phrase, kept alive ever since by Internet bloggers and columnist Jonah Goldberg, has caused puzzlement in France. On Saturday, conservative newspaper Le Figaro translated it as "primates capitulards et toujours en quête de fromages," or, roughly, "capitulating primates always questing for cheeses."

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:38 AM

      ( 11:37 AM ) The Rat  
YESTERDAY'S NEW YORK SUN INCLUDED A FEATURE ON A COMPANY NOW OFFERING A $23,000 BED. For that kind of money shouldn't they be doing the sleeping for you, too?

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      ( 11:26 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:25 AM ) The Rat  
Woman wants monogamy;
Man delights in novelty.
Love is a woman's moon and sun;
Man has other forms of fun.
Woman lives but in her lord;
Count to ten, and a man is bored.
With this the gist and sum of it,
What earthly good can come of it?
—Dorothy Parker

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:25 AM

Thursday, February 13, 2003
      ( 7:01 PM ) The Rat  
ANOTHER GREAT CORRECTION from the New York Times. Wow. Courtesy of OpinionJournal.

Because of an editing error, a front-page article yesterday about diplomatic developments in the Iraq crisis misidentified the Bush administration official who said about the weapons inspectors in Iraq, "At some point it will become obvious that it's time for them to go." It was an administration official speaking on condition of anonymity, not Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser.

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:01 PM

      ( 6:30 PM ) The Rat  
"WHO WANTS TO MARRY MY MOM?" New NBC reality series. You'll pardon me while I throw up.

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      ( 12:26 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 12:23 PM ) The Rat  
SLOW WAVE IS ONLINE. The quality of these is mixed, but they're sometimes pretty good. I like the last one (scroll down) here, for instance; the last one on this page is also a favorite.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:23 PM

      ( 12:21 PM ) The Rat  
SCIENTISTS ID GENETIC MARKER FOR LONGEVITY. Note that this means that if you're genetically predisposed to live a long time, your mom probably is too. Can't say God doesn't have a sense of humor.

In a study conducted at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, researchers found that centenarians were five times more likely than others to have the same mutation in their mitochrondrial DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA, the portion of DNA located in the mitochondria or "powerhouses" of the cell, passes only from the mother to offspring. The mitochondria capture the energy released from the oxidation of metabolites and convert it into energy.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:21 PM

      ( 12:16 PM ) The Rat  

In 1993, over a million saiga antelopes roamed the steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan. Today, fewer than 30,000 remain, most of them females. So many males have been shot for their horns, which are exported to China to be used in traditional fever cures, that the antelope may not be able to recover unaided.

The slaughter is embarrassing for conservationists. In the early 1990s, groups such as WWF actively encouraged the saiga hunt, promoting its horn as an alternative to the horn of the endangered rhino.

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      ( 11:35 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 11:34 AM ) The Rat  
TO PUT ON YOUR NEXT BIRTHDAY WISH-LIST: a ceremonial belly band.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:34 AM

      ( 11:33 AM ) The Rat  
EFFECTIVE 60 DAYS FROM NOW, THE USE OF CELL PHONES has been banned at New York City theatres, movie houses, concerts, museums, libraries, and galleries. Not that this will be very enforceable, but theoretically there's a $50 fine for violations.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:33 AM

      ( 11:28 AM ) The Rat  

But one thing lovers have little control over is how they'll turn their heads when they go in for the kiss. Chances are they'll turn their heads to the right, according to a German psychologist who observed the head-tilting preferences of 124 kissing couples.

The psychologist, Onur Güntürkün of Ruhr-Universität-Bochum, is not so much a voyeur as he is a scientist trying to figure out why humans have a preference for their right side, which from kissing a lover to kicking a soccer ball is twice as popular as the left.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:28 AM

      ( 11:22 AM ) The Rat  
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
'Good gracious! how you hop!
Over the fields and the water too,
As if you never would stop!
My life is a bore in this nasty pond,
And I long to go out in the world beyond!
I wish I could hop like you!'
Said the duck to the Kangaroo.

'Please give me a ride on your back!'
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.
'I would sit quite still, and say nothing but "Quack,"
The whole of the long day through!
And we'd go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee,
Over the land and over the sea;—
Please take me a ride! O do!'
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

Said the Kangaroo to the Duck,
'This requires some little reflection;
Perhaps on the whole it might bring me luck,
And there seems but one objection,
Which is, if you'll let me speak so bold,
Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold,
And would probably give me the roo-
Matiz!' said the Kangaroo.

Said the Duck, 'As I sate on the rocks,
I have thought over that completely,
And I bought four pairs of worsted socks
Which fit my web-feet neatly.
And to keep out the cold I've bought a cloak,
And every day a cigar I'll smoke,
All to follow my own dear true
Love of a Kangaroo!'

Said the Kangaroo,'I'm ready!
All in the moonlight pale;
But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady!
And quite at the end of my tail!'
So away they went with a hop and a bound,
And they hopped the whole world three times round;
And who so happy,—O who,
As the Duck and the Kangaroo?

Edward Lear

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:22 AM

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
      ( 2:25 PM ) The Rat  

Fedulov accused Zyuganov of being Russia's "political prostitute number one."

"I'm giving you a warning, Aleksandr Mikhailovich [Fedulov]," Seleznev cautioned.

Fedulov went on, "I propose that the Ethics Commission end the practice of political prostitution in the Duma."

Seleznev countered: "I propose that deputies vote for barring Deputy Fedulov from commenting during today's session."

At this point, Shandybin rushed toward Fedulov, and a scuffle broke out. "Vassilii Ivanovich [Shandybin], Vassilii Ivanovich, you'll crush him. Don't touch him," Seleznev pleaded.

The scuffle occurred after the Duma had passed a bill barring officials from swearing and using insulting words, as well as slang and vulgar language...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:25 PM

      ( 2:20 PM ) The Rat  

Scientists using a robotic NASA probe have determined with precision the age of the universe—13.7 billion years—and figured out when stars began to shine.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:20 PM

      ( 2:16 PM ) The Rat  
LOST YOUR TORTOISE? Try looking in Tokyo. (Or, consider getting a pet pig instead.)

Police collected nearly 1.72 million left-behind items last year, from mobile phones to wayward tortoises and nearly $20.33 million in stray cash. Umbrellas, however, topped most lost-and-found boxes across the nation's capital, with police reporting 332,579 left behind in 2002—an average of about 3,200 each rainy day...

Among other lost-and-found items were 84 pets, including 12 ferrets and an unspecified number of tortoises.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:16 PM

      ( 2:09 PM ) The Rat  
THANKS TO THE READER who directed me to this Fumento piece on the supposedly "new" findings about the Atkins diet. Personally I've always found Atkins too painful to follow, so hey.

But there were serious problems with this revolutionary argument about one of our nation's most serious health problems. For example, Taubes omitted any reference to hundreds of refereed scientific studies published during the last three decades that contradicted his position. Researchers from whom he could not pull even a single useful quote supportive of his thesis were banished from the piece, while many of those whom Taubes did end up quoting now complain that he twisted their words.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:09 PM

      ( 1:48 PM ) The Rat  
GUESS WHAT WORD has been banned from spelling tests at a Canadian public school? Via the Corner yesterday.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:48 PM

      ( 1:44 PM ) The Rat  
DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU but the Rat could sure hum a few bars o' this.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:44 PM

      ( 1:40 PM ) The Rat  
CLICK HERE FOR A HARD-CORE VOCAB TEST and you, too, can wipe the floor with Eve, who scored only 175. (I got 182, but then I've studied for the GRE more recently than she has.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:40 PM

      ( 12:39 PM ) The Rat  
Lepidus. What manner o' thing is your crocodile?
Mark Antony. It is shaped, sir, like itself; and it is as broad as it hath breadth: it is just so high as it is, and moves with its own organs: it lives by that which nourisheth it; and the elements once out of it, it transmigrates.
Lepidus. What colour is it of?
Mark Antony. Of it own colour too.
Lepidus. 'Tis a strange serpent.
Mark Antony. 'Tis so. And the tears of it are wet.
Antony and Cleopatra

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:39 PM

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
      ( 2:19 PM ) The Rat  
AM I THE ONLY ONE who thinks this year's Westminster Kennel Club winners look like they were drawn by Edward Gorey? Take a Peke (sorry) that looks just like the "Yawfle" that "stares, and stares, and stares, / And stares, and stares, and stares, and stares" (The Utter Zoo Alphabet). Or this Komondorok, which looks like the big dog in The Curious Sofa.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:19 PM

      ( 1:46 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:46 PM

      ( 1:29 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:29 PM

      ( 1:07 PM ) The Rat  
PELOSI, ABORTION, AND RACE. Link via ex-blogger Shamed.

Is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi ripe for her own Trent Lott-like scandal?

In the 1990s, [ex-Congressman Bob] Dornan, the conservative attack dog who represented California's Orange County for nine terms, says he approached Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, at the door of the House chamber to appeal for her support on an anti-abortion bill.

Dornan tells us, "I said, 'Nancy, we're both Catholics with five children... Why would you advance abortion?'

"She turned to me with those big eyes of hers and said, 'Bob, what would you do if one of your daughters was raped by a black man? You would want an abortion.'"

A press aide for Pelosi said she had "no response" to the story.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:07 PM

      ( 12:54 PM ) The Rat  
SOPHIA LOREN will be teaming up with Mikhail Gorbachev and Bill Clinton to make a recording of "Peter and the Wolf."

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:54 PM

      ( 12:38 PM ) The Rat  
INTERESTING FINDINGS on depression and the sense of smell.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:38 PM

      ( 11:53 AM ) The Rat  
THE 96TH PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB was recently sworn in over a bowl of Florida oranges, which seems a bit Wallace Stevens-ey to me. Link via OpinionJournal.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:53 AM

      ( 11:51 AM ) The Rat  
It was an age when men honored the noble virtue of frivolity...
—Tanizaki, "The Tattooer"

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:51 AM

Monday, February 10, 2003
      ( 2:47 PM ) The Rat  

U.S.-based Chinese democracy activist Wang Bingzhang was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment after being convicted of espionage and leading a terrorist group, sparking outrage from rights groups and relatives...

Friends and rights groups said he was kidnapped from Vietnam near the China border, possibly by Chinese agents, where he tried to meet with Chinese labour activists, and was brought into the country.

Wang has been a staunch overseas critic of Beijing's communist regime for almost 20 years.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 PM

      ( 2:40 PM ) The Rat  
ENAAM ARNAOUT has taken an eleventh-hour plea bargain.

Arnaout, 41, admitted in court papers that his Benevolence International Foundation had furnished funds to buy boots and uniforms for the Muslim fighting forces while claiming to aid only widows, orphans and the poor.

He did not acknowledge any relationship with bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network. But federal prosecutors said ample evidence remains that Arnaout helped al-Qaida in several ways—including transferring funds around the world to finance its operations.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:40 PM

      ( 2:29 PM ) The Rat  

Dr. Lyn Hinds, of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, told the conference: "Rats are a reservoir of disease, the sleeping giants of disease in the world."

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:29 PM

      ( 2:06 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:06 PM

      ( 1:59 PM ) The Rat  
THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE sometimes does good work, but it would be a lot better without crap like this new feature. Look people, if you're going to be a shallow "lifestyle" magazine, hire better photographers and be Vogue. This half-assed shit is just a cover for people who want the same kind of titillation and the right to pretend they're reading something serious.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:59 PM

      ( 1:45 PM ) The Rat  
PROFQUOTES. Link via Eve.

"The Yellow River is a very naughty river. Naughty, naughty."

"There are two things you need to be a really good English major. First, a good working knowledge of the Bible. And second, a really dirty mind."

"I'll just hand this out, and you can read it while I privately speculate on why there are so few of you here."

"I sold cars for 5 years. That was the only real job I've had. The rest of the time I've been doing academic stuff, teaching..."

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:45 PM

      ( 12:01 PM ) The Rat  
I had talked to her without being any more conscious of where my words were falling, of what became of them, than if I were dropping pebbles into a bottomless pit. That our words are, as a general rule, filled by the people to whom we address them with a meaning which those people derive from their own substance, a meaning widely different from that which we had put into the same words when we uttered them, is a fact which is perpetually demonstrated in daily life. But if in addition we find ourselves in the company of a person whose education (as Albertine's was to me) is inconceivable, her taste, her reading, her principles unknown to us, we cannot tell whether our words have aroused in her anything that resembles their meaning, any more than in an animal to which we had to make ourselves understood. So that trying to make friends with Albertine seemed to me like entering into contact with the unknown, if not the impossible, an occupation as arduous as breaking in a horse, as restful as keeping bees or growing roses.
Within a Budding Grove

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:01 PM

Friday, February 07, 2003
      ( 11:57 AM ) The Rat  
ON "HONOR KILLINGS" IN JORDAN. Just read Norma Khouri's book on the murder of her best friend by her family for being seen in public, unchaperoned, with (gasp!) a man—I'll be reviewing it for NRO, so stay tuned. Meanwhile check out this Times piece on Khouri, or better yet, read the book.

Lina, a twenty-year-old Jordanian girl, became pregnant after being raped by her neighbor. When her pregnancy became apparent to her family, they decided to kill her. On September 24, her brother drove her to a nearby football field owned by the Jordan Phosphate Mines Company, parked the car, and asked her to get out. He then repeatedly struck her on the head with a rock, drew a knife, slashed her throat and her stomach, left her by the side of the road, and went to turn himself in. His family treated him like a hero and later bailed him out, bringing a white stallion for him to ride home. He was sentenced to three months in jail, but was instantly released because he'd served that amount of time waiting for the trial, even though he was out on bail the entire time.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:57 AM

      ( 11:54 AM ) The Rat  
DON'T TRY AND TELL ME WE DON'T HAVE POETS IN THIS COUNTRY. Two recent quotes from the nation's capital:

The line that is now going around Washington is that of a former undersecretary of defence, who observed, "Going to war without the French is like going deerhunting without an accordion."
—reported on DavidWarrenOnline, link courtesy of ex-blogger Shamed

I’m going to support each and every tax cut that comes before the Senate. Like with my grandchildren, I love them all.
Sen. Zell Miller

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:54 AM

      ( 11:51 AM ) The Rat  
OPINIONJOURNAL notes that the maximum sentence Germany is considering for alleged 9/11 accessory Mounir Motassadeq works out to 1 day, 19 hours, and 48 minutes per murder.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:51 AM

      ( 11:50 AM ) The Rat  
PETA SENDS LETTER TO ARAFAT. As reported by the WaPo (scroll down).

Our friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have outdone themselves this time, sending a deferential letter to Yasser Arafat about a Jan. 26 Jerusalem bombing in which a donkey—but no human beings—died after being strapped with explosives and detonated.

"Your Excellency," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk wrote in the note faxed on Monday to Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. "We have received many calls and letters from people shocked at the bombing... All nations behave abominably in many ways when they are fighting their enemies, and animals are always caught in the crossfire. The U.S. Army abandoned thousands of loyal service dogs in Vietnam. Al-Qaeda and the British government have both used animals in hideously cruel biological weaponry tests. We watched on television as stray cats in your own compound fled as best they could from the Israeli bulldozers..."

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:50 AM

      ( 11:36 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:36 AM

      ( 11:32 AM ) The Rat  
RECENT SEARCH REQUESTS. In the past week alone, readers have come to in desperate search of information on:

"porn + rat" [4 searches, from different terminals]
"ballerina + feet + fetish"
"prison + poetry + losing + girlfriends"
"dead + rat + cartoon"
"penguins + with + boobs + cartoon"

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:32 AM

      ( 11:23 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:23 AM

      ( 11:21 AM ) The Rat  
FORGOT TO PUT THIS UP LAST WEEK—I hardly ever watch new movies, but if you do you might want to check out Rick Lyman's piece in last Thursday's Times, on how Hollywood studios go about deciding whether to position stars as candidates for "Best," or merely "Best Supporting," Actor or Actress. Unfortunately only an abstract is still available at their online site, but there is a slightly longer news-service version here.

And here are some unlikely Oscar candidates.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:21 AM

      ( 11:16 AM ) The Rat  
"She told me about the cop, and the cowboy, and the construction worker… You’re not having a life, Michael, you're fucking the Village People!”
Further Tales of the City

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:16 AM

Thursday, February 06, 2003
      ( 12:47 PM ) The Rat  
THE AD GRAVEYARD. "Ads that were too great to live, live on here." Good stuff.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:47 PM

      ( 12:35 PM ) The Rat  

The debate over a constitution for the European Union has hit a tough hurdle: Should the charter invoke the name of God?

The question of God and religion is highly contentious in Europe, where nations have very different histories of the relationship between government and religion.

The French Revolution turned on separating the church from state matters. In Spain, a reference to Catholicism evokes memories of the fascist dictator Francisco Franco, who stamped every Spanish coin with his profile and backed his grip on power "by the Grace of God." By contrast, in Poland—set to join the European Union in 2004—the Roman Catholic Church played a key role in guiding the country out of communism.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:35 PM

      ( 12:34 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:34 PM

      ( 12:28 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:28 PM

      ( 12:10 PM ) The Rat  
I sent a message to the fish:
I told them, "This is what I wish."

The little fishes of the sea,
They sent an answer back to me.

The little fishes' answer was
"We cannot do it, Sir, because—"

"I'm afraid I don't quite understand," said Alice.

"It gets easier further on," Humpty Dumpty replied.

I sent to them again to say,
"It will be better to obey."

The fishes answered with a grin,
"Why, what a temper you are in!"

I told them once, I told them twice:
They would not listen to advice.

I took a kettle large and new,
Fit for the deed I had to do.

My heart went hop, my heart went thump;
I filled the kettle at the pump.

Then some one came to me and said,
"The little fishes are in bed."

I said to him, I said it plain,
"Then you must wake them up again."

I said it very loud and clear;
I went and shouted in his ear.

But he was very stiff and proud;
He said, "You needn't shout so loud!"

And he was very proud and stiff;
He said "I'd go and wake them, if—"

I took a corkscrew from the shelf:
I went to wake them up myself.

And when I found the door was locked,
I pulled and pushed and knocked.

And when I found the door was shut,
I tried to turn the handle, but—

There was a long pause.

"Is that all?" Alice timidly asked.

"That's all," said Humpty Dumpty. "Good-bye."

Through the Looking-Glass

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:10 PM

Wednesday, February 05, 2003
      ( 5:11 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:11 PM

      ( 5:11 PM ) The Rat  

My wife and I saw a bumper sticker this morning on the way to Mass: "Bush and Ashcroft: Saving America, One Secret Trial at a Time." My first thought was, "Cool! Where can I get one?" Then I realized it wasn't supposed to be laudatory.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:11 PM

      ( 12:51 PM ) The Rat  
"Y'KNOW, AFTER HE STOLE IT, THE GRINCH HID CHRISTMAS IN MY PANTS." A list of Dr. Seuss pick-up lines. No. 3 is the best.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:51 PM

      ( 12:18 PM ) The Rat  
BURMA-SHAVE TRIBUTE. Scroll down for more Burma-Shave rhymes than you can shake a stick at. There's some here too.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:18 PM

      ( 12:08 PM ) The Rat  
GUN-TO-YOUR-HEAD.COM. Extreme-situation poll (with results).

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:08 PM

      ( 11:59 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:59 AM

      ( 11:54 AM ) The Rat  

"They get hooked faster, they get hooked using lesser amounts of alcohol and drugs and cocaine, and they suffer the consequences faster and more severely," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, which conducted the survey of girls and young women over three years.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:54 AM

      ( 11:45 AM ) The Rat  

The State Duma lower house overwhelmingly approved a bill entrenching Russian as the "state language" and barring "offensive," "obscene" and "vulgar" words. Foreign words are also outlawed when Russian-language equivalents exist. The legislation provided no specific penalties for offenders and will probably have little effect on the tendency of public figures to use off-colour phrases, mostly to their advantage.

Putin launched a 1999 drive against Chechen rebels by vowing to "wipe them out in the shithouse." He then chose not to campaign in the 2000 election he easily won, saying he would not treat politics like trying to sell "Snickers and Tampax"... Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a deputy speaker of the Duma, also resorts to off-colour expressions and was seen on television last week denouncing U.S. policy in Iraq—with much of his remarks blotted out.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:45 AM

      ( 11:24 AM ) The Rat  
Marx and Engels, [Peruvian economist Hernando] de Soto's pet dogs, were so named because "they are German, hairy and have no respect for property."
The Economist, Feb. 1

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:24 AM

Tuesday, February 04, 2003
      ( 8:01 PM ) The Rat  
GOOD NEWS FOR EEL ENTHUSIASTS: Aalfred isn't being evicted after all.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:01 PM

      ( 6:47 PM ) The Rat  

Mr. Kennedy has also charged that Judge Pickering showed selective leniency toward this white cross-burner, while coming down hard on black defendants before him.

However, I have copies of the letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee from four lawyers in Hattiesburg, Miss., who represented black defendants before Judge Pickering. Each tells of cases in which Judge Pickering made significant downward departures from federal sentencing guidelines for these black defendants. Are these the actions of a racist?

In one of these cases, the client, "a first offender, did not have a high school degree and admitted to drug use since age 8." Judge Pickering went outside the guidelines recommended by the U.S. attorney, "thus enabling my client to qualify for several rehabilitative opportunities while incarcerated... I believe my client's sentencing experience with Pickering may have been a positive life-changing experience for the defendant."

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:47 PM

      ( 4:01 PM ) The Rat  
ANOTHER GREAT CORRECTION, courtesy of the Times.

The Age of Dissonance column last Sunday, about cozying up to celebrities, mentioned a report in The Daily News that guests at the Sundance film festival "had their shoes spattered" when the actor Tobey Maguire was taken ill. But the day the Times column appeared, The News quoted the actor's publicist as saying that although Mr. Maguire doubled over at one point, it was not he who vomited.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:01 PM

      ( 4:00 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:00 PM

      ( 3:59 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:59 PM

      ( 3:58 PM ) The Rat  
She had been a foolish student then, imagining that these days spent with her classmates constituted some sort of 'youth.'
—Shusaku Endo, Deep River

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:58 PM

Monday, February 03, 2003
      ( 1:57 PM ) The Rat  

Doctors from across New Jersey walked off the job on Monday in the first statewide physicians' strike over rising medical malpractice insurance premiums, organizers said. The work stoppage, likely to be one of the largest ever by U.S. doctors, was intended to disrupt nonemergency medical care for patients who could be forced to visit hospital emergency rooms for routine medical complaints.

But the state's 22,000 doctors continued to perform emergency surgical operations and handle critical care procedures such as kidney dialysis and cancer treatments.

"The conservative estimates are that probably about half of the physicians in the state are participating in one form or another," said John Shaffer, spokesman for the Medical Society of New Jersey.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:57 PM

      ( 1:48 PM ) The Rat  
AND WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT, here's a good article on malpractice litigation.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:48 PM

      ( 12:59 PM ) The Rat  

Pupils at Fairway Middle School, Norwich, have been told they will be punished if they launch surprise attacks... Only if their victims agree to be a target are they allowed to try to hit them.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:59 PM

      ( 9:12 AM ) The Rat  
"Well, the Underground Man was really the original blogger..."
—overheard this weekend

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:12 AM

Friday, January 31, 2003
      ( 1:16 PM ) The Rat  
BAD NEWS, EVERYONE: The international community's plan to keep Lance Armstrong from riding in the Tour de France by going to war with Iraq, seems to have failed.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:16 PM

      ( 1:06 PM ) The Rat  
THE LATEST ON THE REAL REASON GROUNDHOGS COME OUT ON FEB. 2. And no, it's not because of it being Ayn Rand's birthday.

"He's looking for females," Zervanos told UPI's Animal Tales. "Groundhogs have a very limited window of opportunity to mate because they need the time in the spring and summer to gain enough weight to survive the winter."

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:06 PM

      ( 1:00 PM ) The Rat  
HAVE NOW DISCOVERED A SECOND LITERARY WORK by a celebrated author that takes as its subject one or more severed noses. The first, of course, is by this guy. The second is the first novella in this volume. (Tanizaki, incidentally, is always good, but if you haven't read him before start with this, this, or this; the Secret History, though among his personal favorites, isn't his best book.)

She said that the sight of satisfactory noses on the faces of her father-in-law Ikkansai and her husband Norishige filled her with pity for her father. It probably made her angry to see a nose on anyone's face. The very fact that she had a nose herself must have pricked her conscience. Probably she thought that her father's misery could be relieved completely only if everyone in the world lost their noses. She was a bride of fifteen at the time, and neither old enough nor experienced enough to aspire after anything as ambitious as the destruction of the Tsukuma clan; and so the plan she came up with was exceedingly simple and girlish. In short, she was obsessed with the notion that her father's ghost would forget his anger, and her own grief would be assuaged, if she rendered her father-in-law or her husband noseless in place of all the people of the world. Consequently, her immediate target was their noses, not their lives...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:00 PM

      ( 12:50 PM ) The Rat  
"Well, it's got some rat in it!"
Monty Python

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:50 PM

Thursday, January 30, 2003
      ( 4:55 PM ) The Rat  
INTERESTING ARTICLE on doctors and abortion today. Link via The Corner.

Abortions have the potential to be cash cows for doctors. The average cost for an early surgical abortion is $372; for mifepristone, the abortion pill, it's $490. And the vast majority of women pay out of pocket for both procedures, meaning no administrative hassles, and better profit margins for the doctors. You would think that abortion would have taken off among gynecologists the way Botox has taken off among plastic surgeons.

But it hasn't. And it isn't because they don't know how to do it. The procedure is one that every gynecologist learns to do in the course of their training. It's the same technique they use to treat an incomplete miscarriage or to sample the lining of the uterus in cases of abnormal bleeding. And it isn't because they've been intimidated by anti-abortion violence. The same Guttmacher Institute study found that serious harassment such as vandalism, bomb threats, and personal harassment are non-existent for private offices, and declining sharply for the large clinics.

So why are doctors forgoing this safe, legal, profitable venture? Because the same technology that has made abortion safer, easier, and quicker, has also dramatically changed the relationship between the physician and the fetus.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:55 PM

      ( 4:47 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:47 PM

      ( 11:50 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:50 AM

      ( 11:47 AM ) The Rat  
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Manhattan Institute.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:47 AM

      ( 11:44 AM ) The Rat  
That Albertine was scarcely more than a silhouette, all that had been superimposed upon her being of my own invention, to such an extent when we love does the contribution that we ourselves make outweigh—even in terms of quantity alone—those that come to us from the beloved object. And this is true of loves that have been realised in actuality. There are loves that not only develop but survive on very little—and this even among those that have achieved their carnal fulfilment. An old drawing-master who had taught my grandmother had been presented by some obscure mistress with a daughter. The mother died shortly after the birth of the child, and the drawing-master was so broken-hearted that he did not long survive her. In the last months of his life my grandmother and some of the Combray ladies, who had never liked to make any allusion in his presence to the woman with whom in any case he had not officially lived and had had comparatively sparse relations, took it into their heads to ensure the little girl's future by clubbing together to provide her with an annuity. It was my grandmother who suggested this; several of her friends jibbed; after all, was the child really such a very interesting case? Was she even the child of her reputed father? With women like that, one could never be sure. Finally, everything was settled. The child came to thank the ladies. She was plain, and so absurdly like the old drawing-master as to remove every shadow of doubt. Since her hair was the only nice thing about her, one of the ladies said to her father, who had brought her: 'What pretty hair she has.' And thinking that now, the guilty woman being dead and the old man only half alive, a discreet allusion to that past of which they had always pretended to know nothing could do no harm, my grandmother added: 'It must run in the family. Did her mother have pretty hair like that?' 'I don't know,' was the old man's quaint answer, 'I never saw her except with a hat on.'
Within a Budding Grove

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:44 AM

Wednesday, January 29, 2003
      ( 5:28 PM ) The Rat  
PETER O'TOOLE DECLINES HONORARY OSCAR. Charming story. (If you haven't yet, see O'Toole in this movie.)

According to a report in Daily Variety, O'Toole sent a handwritten open letter to the academy saying he was "enchanted" by the gesture, but insisting that he is "still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright." The 70-year-old actor wondered whether the academy would "please defer the honor until I am 80?"

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:28 PM

      ( 1:42 PM ) The Rat  
TIME MAGAZINE ISSUES A CORRECTION almost worthy of this all-star fuckup from the Yale Daily News. (Click here for the original Time story.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:42 PM

      ( 1:01 PM ) The Rat  

In future, pupils at Uplands Manor Primary School in Smethwick, West Midlands, will see their mistakes struck through with a green pen... Penny Penn-Howard, head of school improvement for Sandwell Council, said: "The colour of the pen used for marking is not greatly significant except that the red pen has negative connotations and can be seen as a negative approach to improving pupils' work."

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:01 PM

      ( 12:56 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:56 PM

      ( 12:42 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:42 PM

      ( 12:31 PM ) The Rat  

Covering up the "Made In" labels is against the law, a violation of venerable Title 19, Chapter 4, Subtitle II, Part 1, Sec. 134.11, which "requires that every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently" as possible, "in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser... [the] name of the country of origin of the article."

Further, "any person who, with intent to conceal the information... defaces, destroys, removes, alters, covers, obscures, or obliterates any mark required under the provisions of this chapter shall—(1) upon conviction for the first violation... be fined not more than $100,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both...."

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:31 PM

      ( 12:28 PM ) The Rat  
AGE GAUGE. Interesting. Click here and type in your birthday. Via a blogless friend in Chicago.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:28 PM

      ( 12:27 PM ) The Rat  
I am still completely happy.
My resolve to win further I have
Thrown out, and am charged by the thrill
Of the sun coming up.
John Ashbery

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:27 PM

Tuesday, January 28, 2003
      ( 12:17 PM ) The Rat  
AND, LASTLY, I GIVE YOU: CHEESE & PANTS THEATER. Courtesy of a [blogless] friend in San Francisco (it would be).

Cheese & Pants Theater is a surrealistic marriage of found sound and mime. Apparently. Honestly, how does one describe a performance where a gigantic pair of disembodied pants and an equally gigantic can of parmesan cheese act out found, prerecorded dialogues?

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:17 PM

      ( 12:15 PM ) The Rat  
THE PUTIN-POTTER CONNECTION. As if a Rowling character could ever have said something as cool as this.

Dobby, the computer-animated elf in the new Harry Potter film, could be at the centre of a court battle over his resemblance to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

A Russian law firm is reportedly drawing up legal action against the special effects people who dreamt up Dobby, arguing that the ugly but caring elf has been modelled on Mr Putin.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:15 PM

      ( 12:09 PM ) The Rat  
IRAQ TO CHAIR CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT. Which goes rather nicely with Libya chairing the Commission on Human Rights.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:09 PM

      ( 12:07 PM ) The Rat  

Today, not sated by yesterday's fill of exotic Buddhism, we decide to hunt down the penis shrine.

Partly we are intrigued because, gosh, who wouldn't be intrigued by a penis shrine? It is blithely mentioned in one of our guide books, with nary an explanation, and the detective in us craves to know what and why.

But we must admit that partly we're going because it's really close to our hotel. Honestly, we're not the type of people who schlep all over town in desperate pursuit of a penis shrine. On the other hand, if you throw a penis shrine in our face, we won't turn our backs on it, either.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:07 PM

      ( 12:05 PM ) The Rat  
He takes me to the places you
And I used to go
He tells me over and over
That he loves me so
He gives me love
That I never got from you
He loves me too,
His love is true
Why can't he be you?

Patsy Cline; lyrics by Hank Cochran

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:05 PM

Monday, January 27, 2003
      ( 1:27 PM ) The Rat  
READ THE AQUARIUMS OF PYONGYANG over the weekend. It's the only extant memoir of the Korean gulag, and worth a look (the author was imprisoned with his family at the age of 9 and released, ten years later, in 1987). Also interesting to note is which remnants of tradition survive Communist ideology: for instance, the Korean belief that the dead should be buried on high ground is adhered to even in the camp; as is much of the Confucian respect for the sanctity of the family—in fact, that is one motive for imprisoning not merely lone enemies of the state but three generations' worth of their relatives. (Another reason is eugenic—in Kang Chol-hwan's account, one guard screams to a woman found to be pregnant: "You, a counterrevolutionary, dare to bring a child into this world? You, from a family of traitors of the fatherland?" Hence also the popularity of forced abortion and infanticide.)

I've read a number of gulag memoirs—this is one of the best—but the Koreans have a few tricks so baroque they were new even to me: e.g., posthumous stonings. By the end of the book, China looks like Las Vegas.


A group of children had been ordered to excavate a ton of fine earth [at the clay quarry] in a single afternoon, an absurd quota. Working without the benefit of either adult supervision or scaffolding, they burrowed child-sized tunnels into the foot of the cliff, whose environs soon turned gloomy with shadows and dust. My job that day was to carry the excavated earth over to the trucks that hauled it away. I was just finishing one of my trips when I heard a muted rumble, then screams. I ran toward the tunnel. There had been a cave-in. A number of kids were trapped. As I worked furiously to help dig out the rubble, I overheard my schoolmaster bantering with one of the guards.

"What a piece of work, these kids!" he mused. "Gone and collapsed the cliff again. What idiots! Guess they won't be siring any little ones!"

We managed to pull five or six of the kids out alive, but all the rest were dead. I remember their bodies, blue but not yet stiffened… After giving the crew a sharp dressing-down, the teacher ordered everyone back to work—for the sake of discipline, I suppose. Still shaken, the kids begged to have the job put off until the next day, but the teacher wouldn't have any of it. He kicked and slapped them until they rejoined their post—at the very place where they had just extracted their friends, whose bodies lay within view, waiting to be moved to the camp's hospital.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:27 PM

      ( 11:59 AM ) The Rat  

Nor can the U.N. claim ignorance of what happens when victims are abandoned to their oppressors. The Srebrenica scenario is reminiscent of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when promises by the U.N. to protect Rwandan civilians proved just as empty. There, too, U.N. personnel knew that the victim groups had been previously disarmed—in this case, by laws enacted in 1964 and 1979. Early on in the genocide, thousands of Rwandan civilians gathered in areas where U.N. troops had been stationed, thinking they would be protected. They weren't. If the Rwandans had known that the U.N. troops would withdraw, they would have fled, and some might have survived. "The manner in which troops left, including attempts to pretend to the refugees that they were not in fact leaving, was disgraceful," an independent report later concluded.

In short, the U.N. was aware of Milosevic's propensity for ethnic cleansing, and had ample reason to know that its actions would create a situation ripe for genocide. The atrocities at Srebrenica could not have been perpetrated by the Serbs on such a grand scale had not the U.N. and its policies first prepared an enclave of victims, most of them disarmed.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:59 AM

      ( 11:53 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:53 AM

      ( 11:47 AM ) The Rat  
A BONE TO PICK with Samuel Butler, who in his 1897 The Authoress of the Odyssey claimed ...well, you figure it out. Butler evidently missed this passage (the meeting with Kirkê [X.365-76]; Fitzgerald trans.):

"What champion, of what country, can you be?
Where are your kinsmen and your city?
Are you not sluggish with my wine? Ah, wonder!
Never a mortal man that drank this cup
but when it passed his lips he had succumbed.
Hale must your heart be and your tempered will.
Odysseus then you are, O great contender,
of whom the glittering god with golden wand
spoke to me ever, and foretold
the black swift ship would carry you from Troy.
Put up your weapon in the sheath. We two
shall mingle and make love upon our bed..."

In short: "You must be Odysseus. Get in the sack!" And he thinks a woman wrote it? Better luck next time, Sam.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:47 AM

      ( 11:46 AM ) The Rat  
I WAS YOUNG; I NEEDED THE MONEY. To the Google searcher who came here looking for "porn + rat": Get help.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:46 AM

      ( 11:45 AM ) The Rat  
On this first day itself, when, on my return to the hotel, I was able to visualise the memory which I had brought away with me, I realized what a conjuring trick had been performed, and with what consummate sleight of hand, and how I had talked for a moment or two with a person who, thanks to the skill of the conjurer, without actually embodying anything of that other person whom I had for so long been following as she paced beside the sea, had been substituted for her. I might, for that matter, have guessed as much in advance, since the girl on the beach was a fabrication of my own. In spite of which, since I had in my conversations with Elstir, identified her with Albertine, I felt myself in honour bound to fulfil to the real the promises of love made to the imagined Albertine. We betroth ourselves by proxy, and then feel obliged to marry the intermediary.
Within a Budding Grove

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:45 AM

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

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