The Rat
Sunday, April 29, 2007
      ( 10:35 PM ) The Rat  
GRAD STUDENT WORK OUTPUT, from Piled Higher and Deeper. GL, when he saw it: "Yeah... that's dead on." Via ET, of course.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:35 PM

      ( 8:09 PM ) The Rat  

Every dog lover knows how a pooch expresses its feelings.

Ears close to the head, tense posture, and tail straight out from the body means "don't mess with me." Ears perked up, wriggly body and vigorously wagging tail means "I am sooo happy to see you!"

But there is another, newly discovered, feature of dog body language that may surprise attentive pet owners and experts in canine behavior. When dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.

A study describing the phenomenon, "Asymmetric tail-wagging responses by dogs to different emotive stimuli," appeared in the March 20 issue of Current Biology...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:09 PM

      ( 6:23 PM ) The Rat  
IN CASE YOU WERE FEELING MALADJUSTED. Actual groups, from a recent MLA dispatch.

American Boccaccio Association
Association des amis d'André Gide
Margaret Atwood Society
Simone de Beauvoir Society
Byron Society of America
John Clare Society of North America
Paul Claudel Society
Joseph Conrad Society
Dickens Society
Emily Dickinson International Society
William Faulkner Society
Robert Frost Society
Margaret Fuller Society
Ellen Glasgow Society
Goethe Society of North America
Nathaniel Hawthorne Society
Ernest Hemingway Society
Langston Hughes Society
International Association of Galdós Scholars
International Boethius Society
International Brecht Society
International Spenser Society
International Virginia Woolf Society
International Vladimir Nabokov Society
Henry James Society
Kafka Society of America
Keats-Shelley Association
D.H. Lawrence Society of North America
Doris Lessing Society
G.E. Lessing Society
Marlowe Society of America
Melville Society
Milton Society of America
William Morris Society
North America Heine Society
Harold Pinter Society
Pirandello Society of America
Poe Studies Association
Ezra Pound Society
George Sand Association
Wallace Stevens Society
Thoreau Society
Edith Wharton Society
William Carlos Williams Society
Wordsworth-Coleridge Association

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:23 PM

      ( 6:07 PM ) The Rat  
The original I destroyed. I prefer versions of things, copies that aren't so precious.
Native Speaker

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:07 PM

Saturday, April 28, 2007
      ( 8:45 PM ) The Rat  

The French dislike themselves even more than the Americans dislike them, according to an opinion poll published on Friday.

The survey of six nations, carried out for the International Herald Tribune daily and France 24 TV station, said 44 percent of French people thought badly of themselves against 38 percent of U.S. respondents who had a negative view of the French.

Only 14 percent of Germans, 25 percent of Italians, 29 percent of Spaniards and 33 percent of Britons had a negative view of the French, according to the Harris/Novatris poll, which questioned more than 1,000 people in each country...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:45 PM

      ( 8:43 PM ) The Rat  
50 BULLS**T JOBS, also via IKM. Some pretty funny moments in this.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:43 PM

      ( 8:25 PM ) The Rat  
WHAT WOULD I DO without friends who send me news stories like this (via IKM)?

Reckoning by the old biblical measurements, Johan's fully functional ark is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That's two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house.

Life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals greet visitors as they arrive in the main hold.

"The design is by my wife, Bianca," Huibers said. "She didn't really want me to do this at all, but she said if you're going to anyway, it should look like this."

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:25 PM

      ( 4:34 PM ) The Rat  
EEK. Spay/neuter your pets, people! The stats in this are ridiculous.

In the 12 months ending March 31, city shelters put to death 5,622 unweaned kittens. That's slightly more than twice the number of pit bulls—possibly the most reviled dog on the planet—that were euthanized during the same period.

Los Angeles County, which takes in far more animals than the city, has its own grim statistics. The county's Department of Animal Care & Control killed 7,994 unweaned kittens in the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006.

April is the start of the cruelest months if you are an unweaned feline—a kitten incapable of surviving without a nursing mother or human intervention. L.A. Animal Services statistics for the last six years show that the shelter intake of unweaned kittens increases dramatically in April, spikes in May and generally stays high through September...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:34 PM

      ( 3:28 AM ) The Rat  

With its colorful striped awning, kids' jungle gym in the parking lot, and all-American fare, Ernie's Family Restaurant resembles many other down-home restaurants that promise to treat its customers like family. But what sets this nationwide chain apart is that it actually delivers on its pledge.

"We believe in treating our customers like part of the family," manager Dean Friesz said during Friday's grand opening of a new Ernie's location on Jericho Turnpike in Garden City. "That's why Ernie's offers, free with every Old-Fashioned Super-Duper Ernie's Entree, accusations, belittlement, and other barely disguised expressions of bitterness, despair and sour regret that typify American family interaction."

Friesz said that, beginning March 1, Ernie's will feature special "theme nights" to lure the all-important dinner crowd. "Tuesdays will be All You Can Eat Salad Bar And You Never Do Anything Right Night; Thursdays will be Prime Rib And My God You've Let Yourself Go Since We Got Married Night; and Saturdays will be Popcorn Shrimp And I Know You're Fucking That Slut Lorraine From The Health Club Night," he said...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:28 AM

      ( 1:12 AM ) The Rat  
[A]fter an early dinner at The Egg and We, a recently inaugurated and not very successful little restaurant which Pnin frequented from sheer sympathy with failure, our friend applied himself to the pleasant task of Pninizing his new quarters...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:12 AM

Friday, April 27, 2007
      ( 10:20 PM ) The Rat  

The students, with help at various times from as many as 15 friends, took up the dare, armed with a little Internet research and a lot of winging it. Their 30 pounds of black and green olives were cleaned, soaked and (somewhat) pitted. Four kitchen blenders in the Ruddock House dorm pulverized the olives into "this slurry, a disgusting mess," Jones recalled. The glop, Adalian said, was stewed in "lots and lots of pots" for two hours in kitchens on three dorm floors.

It took engineering trial and error to separate the oil from water and solids. The students first placed the stew inside plastic garbage bags—with cheesecloth and punctured holes at the bottom—and pressed down with cinderblocks and concrete pieces. Some oil dripped into bowls, but most of the bags remained clogged.

The next idea was more successful: press the stew by hand through window screens. (Yes, they did clean the screens first.) Then, with the consent of a somewhat baffled professor, they purified the oil by spinning it in centrifuges in a biology lab...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:20 PM

      ( 9:17 PM ) The Rat  
MUSTA BEEN IN GRAD SCHOOL. From Wikipedia's entry on Céline:

Pessimism pervades Céline's fiction as his characters sense failure, anxiety, nihilism, and inertia...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:17 PM

      ( 7:38 PM ) The Rat  

Whether we are drinking in a scene, picture or vista, our eyeballs dart about wildly to take in different features of the view. Previous research determined that eyeballs fix their gaze on a particular spot for one third to a couple of seconds; in between glances they dart around for up to 50 milliseconds. During this shift in attention vision is suppressed and a patch of momentary blindness occurs.

So, with all this frantic movement (not to mention temporary blindness), how is our brain able to piece together a complete, detailed, uninterrupted picture of the world?

The answer could lie in a wrinkle of image processing called "boundary extension," whereby the brain represents a scene not only by inputted information, such as a picture, but also by what it extrapolates is beyond the picture's borders...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:38 PM

      ( 2:52 PM ) The Rat  
"AIR SEX," via MGS, who writes: "This is a real window into... something."

Love-starved Japanese men are gathering in Tokyo's theater district to mime their best bedroom moves in a performance they're calling "Air Sex," the Mainichi Daily News reported recently.

"Air sex was originally invented by guys who couldn't get girlfriends but desperately want to have sex," said the creator of the genre, J-Taro Sugisaku.

The men compete in much the same manner as air guitar, crowning the champions who best mimic those actions that usually appear under cover of darkness.

And it's dangerous, said last year's champ, a guy named Cobra.

"You can't care about what women watching your performance are thinking about you," he said. "When you get down to air sex, you've got to immerse yourself in the air sex world.

"Air sex can't be performed in half-measures," he continued. "If it is, you're only asking for trouble."

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:52 PM

      ( 12:14 PM ) The Rat  

Each night, Leslie, 16, and Adilene Muñoz, 8, sleep restlessly in their parents' bed while their brother Marcos, 13, covers himself with a blanket on the floor beside them.

Across the border in Tijuana, their parents lie awake in their small third-story apartment, feeling anxious and helpless.

The family has been divided by the U.S.-Mexican border since Feb. 22, when immigration agents arrested and deported Abel Muñoz and Zulma Miranda. The couple decided to leave behind their three U.S.-born children after a relative agreed to watch over them.

"Being separated is very difficult, but why am I going to deprive them of their right to live there?" Miranda said in Spanish, sitting in the Tijuana apartment where she is living with her husband and her parents. "There is no future here. It's a very rough life here. I don't want that for my kids." [...]

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:14 PM

Thursday, April 26, 2007
      ( 10:17 PM ) The Rat  

I've found that terms of endearment are generally a male specialty. Most women don't use them, or if they do, the ones they pick are pretty generic. A friend of ours calls her husband "Bud," for example, even though his name is Matt. She doesn't know where "Bud" came from. It just sounded good to her. Michelle calls me "my love" from time to time, which is sweet and all, but she uses the same term for the boys, the dog, and, occasionally, her warmest flannel pajamas...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:17 PM

      ( 9:49 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:49 PM

      ( 8:46 PM ) The Rat  
If the world could write by itself, it would write like Tolstoy.
—Isaac Babel

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:46 PM

      ( 8:42 PM ) The Rat  
JS COINED the most awesome expression the other day, characterizing the behavior of someone in an anecdote I'd just repeated to her, thus: "That just really seems like... hanging out your crazy flag right away, you know?"

I'm dying for another occasion to use this. Though I gotta say, it's hard to top the occasion/situation she was applying it to. Grr.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:42 PM

      ( 8:38 PM ) The Rat  
WELCOME! to the reader who came here looking for "rats having a bad day."

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:38 PM

      ( 3:29 PM ) The Rat  

When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson's pants, he took action. He complained. He demanded compensation. And then he sued. Man, did he sue.

Two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later, Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay—would you believe more than the payroll of the entire Washington Nationals roster?

He says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort," for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers.

Pearson is demanding $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:29 PM

      ( 12:25 AM ) The Rat  
The narrator describes it as a 'tremendous love letter' and indeed has kept it among his papers, letting us see it now. 'I am not handsome, I am not interesting, I am not talented,' it partly runs. 'I am not even rich. But Lise [Pnin uses the French form of her name, the narrator speculates, because it allows him to avoid both the too familiar and the too formal alternatives of the Russian], I offer you everything I have, to the last blood corpuscle, to the last tear, everything.' Pnin's love is entirely misplaced—but then how much well-placed love do we know of?...
The Magician's Doubts: Nabokov and the Risks of Fiction

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:25 AM

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
      ( 11:39 PM ) The Rat  
And this was not all. Dr. Eric Wind hoped to work out a technique that would allow bringing all those husbands and wives together in a joint group. Incidentally it was deadening to hear him and Liza smacking their lips over the word 'group.' In a long letter to distressed Pnin, Professor Chateau affirmed that Dr. Wind even called Siamese twins 'a group.' And indeed progressive, idealistic Wind dreamed of a happy world consisting of Siamese centuplets, anatomically conjoined communities, whole nations built around a communicating liver. 'It is nothing but a kind of microcosmos of Communism—all that psychiatry,' rumbled Pnin, in his answer to Chateau. 'Why not leave their private sorrows to people? Is sorrow not, one asks, the only thing in the world people really possess?'

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:39 PM

      ( 11:12 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:12 PM

      ( 3:31 PM ) The Rat  

My first college teaching position after graduate school was at a highly competitive New England liberal-arts college. My students were extremely bright, and most learned well what I tried to teach them. But I quickly discovered, much to my chagrin, that despite their strong skills, there was an enormous gap between us. They didn't care at all about what I, as a college professor of economics, cared about. They weren't interested in the ideas that had led me to enter and complete graduate school and that were at the heart of my discipline and my research. For the most part, and now I think rightly so, they were preoccupied with each other and with the nonacademic careers for which they needed the prestigious college degree they were earning.

I left that position to teach at a medium-size private university that fell just below the cutoff for counting itself "competitive." Here I found a different gap between my students and me. This time we differed not only in interests, but in aptitudes. My students did not have the sophisticated quantitative or analytic skills needed to master the mathematical concepts or grasp the subtleties of the topics I chose. And they did not, for the most part, feel the need to earn high grades.

Had anyone asked me then what reformers are asking college professors now, I could easily have generated a long list of skills and dispositions my students should have had to be successful in my classes. Significantly, that list would have looked very much like a description of the students I had taught the year before.

The next lessons I learned about the differences between professors and their students came after I decided to end my career as an academic. I chose to approach that final year of teaching in a new way. Rather than assuming that my students needed or wanted to know what I, a professional academic economist, knew, I decided to approach them as members of the general public who needed to understand the few essential ideas of my discipline that found their way into political and economic news and public debate. My goal was simple. As graduates of an introductory microeconomics course, they would all understand the core ideas surrounding sup-ply-and-demand curves. I decided not to teach sophisticated versions of the model. I decided not to teach critiques of the model. I decided just to teach the basics.

The results were remarkable. The majority learned what I taught. They felt competent because they could get it. They liked coming to class, and I actually enjoyed teaching them. And I felt some confidence that they would be able to understand newspaper and magazine discussions and policy debates that involved those core ideas.

Had I dumbed down the curriculum? The honest answer is yes, and not surprisingly, as I "lowered" my expectations, my students' performance improved. Instead of almost everything I tried to teach rolling off their backs, some of it actually stuck. I taught the students I had, rather than the students I wished for...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:31 PM

      ( 3:21 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:21 PM

      ( 3:18 PM ) The Rat  
ADAM GOPNIK on real food from fictional recipes.

The recipes in these books are not, of course, meant to be cooked; they have literary purposes, and one of them is to represent the background of thought. Every age finds an activity that can take place while a character is meditating; the activity surrounds and halos the meditation. In Victorian fiction, it is walking; the character takes a long walk from Little Tipping to Old Stornsbury and, on the way, decides to propose, convert, escape, or run for office. But the walk as meditational setting and backdrop came to an end with Joyce and Woolf, who made whole walking books. In recent American fiction, driving was recessive enough to do the job; in Updike and Ann Beattie, characters in cars are always doing the kind of thinking that Pip and Phineas Finn used to do on walks. Driving and walking, however, do seem to be natural “background” actions. But you cannot have characters thinking while cooking; the activity is not a place for thought but in place of thought.

We need these devices in books, because we do not, in life, think our thoughts over time. Since our real mental life is made in tiny flashes in the midst of our routines, we have to stretch it out, taffy-like, in literature to cover a span of time worthy of it. If we accurately represented our mental life as it takes place—sudden impulses on the way to the washroom, a spasm of neurons unleashed over coffee—no one would believe it. Consciousness is not a stream but a still lock that suddenly drops into little waterfalls. The lengthy descriptions of cooking that we find in modern literature are a way of artfully representing, rather than actually reproducing, our mental life—a modelled illusion, rather than a snapshot of the thing.

So no matter how much cooking a novel contains, in the end it goes back to being a book, as all books will. Even cookbooks are finally more book than they are cook, and, more and more, we know it: for every novel that contains a recipe, there is now a recipe book meant to be read as a novel. When we read, in Alain Ducasse’s recent Culinary Encyclopedia, a recipe for Colonna-bacon-barded thrush breasts, with giblet canapés, on a porcini-mushroom marmalade, we know that we are not seriously expected to cook this; rather, we are to admire, over and over, the literary skill, the metaphysical poetry, required to bring these improbable things together...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:18 PM

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
      ( 11:08 PM ) The Rat  
UNIV. RESCINDS STAGE WEAPONS BAN. I started reading this thinking, "Wow, so common sense finally kicked in" ...but, of course, turns out I was wrong. Hilarious.

Stage weapons will again be allowed in University theatrical productions, in a reversal of last week's ban, Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said Tuesday morning.

Administrators decided Monday afternoon to require that audiences instead be informed of the use of stage weapons before the start of every performance, she said. In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 students dead last Monday, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg had told students that they would be required to substitute obviously fake props for realistic stage weapons in theatrical productions.

Klasky said the University reversed the policy because of concerns about free speech...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:08 PM

      ( 7:48 PM ) The Rat  
POTENTIALLY HABITABLE PLANET FOUND. Okay, so they probably didn't intend this headline the way I'm reading it...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:48 PM

      ( 3:35 PM ) The Rat  
HEH! Now there's a book about it.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:35 PM

      ( 1:45 PM ) The Rat  
From there, after six days and seven nights, you arrive at Zobeide, the white city, well exposed to the moon, with streets wound about themselves as in a skein. They tell this tale of its foundation: men of various nations had an identical dream. They saw a woman running at night through an unknown city; she was seen from behind, with long hair, and she was naked. They dreamed of pursuing her. As they twisted and turned, each of them lost her. After the dream they set out in search of that city; they never found it, but they found one another; they decided to build a city like the one in the dream. In laying out the streets, each followed the course of his pursuit; at the spot where they had lost the fugitive's trail, they arranged spaces and walls differently from the dream, so she would be unable to escape again...
Invisible Cities

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:45 PM

      ( 2:05 AM ) The Rat  
You never really know a man until you have divorced him.
—Zsa Zsa Gabor

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:05 AM

Monday, April 23, 2007
      ( 12:35 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:35 PM

      ( 12:25 AM ) The Rat  
FROM ADDICT TO PHYSICIAN. This is very cool.

A heroin addict, Kurth had been arrested for petty larceny and drug possession. His oversized jeans sagged at the waist. His belt had been stolen that week by a corner drug-seller in Harlem.

Perhaps seeing a speck of promise in the 20-year-old, the judge offered him drug rehab instead of jail.

Kurth balked. If he did the time, he'd be back on the street sooner.

Consider it a gift and take it, his attorney told him.

Nearly 40 years later, Dr. Donald Kurth still reaches back to that memory for inspiration. The judge's gift ultimately led to college and then Southern California, where he is chief of addiction medicine at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medical Center—and mayor of Rancho Cucamonga...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:25 AM

Sunday, April 22, 2007
      ( 7:07 PM ) The Rat  

But that's small change compared with the tactical maneuvers required for eating lunch. Imagine, if you will, Armani-uniformed agents standing in line with soccer moms at the Westfield mall's food court or balancing plastic trays loaded up with beer-battered chicken or Fuddruckers fries. "With all the suits and sunglasses, it feels like "The Matrix: The Food Court," joked manager-producer J.C. Spink ("A History of Violence").

And with such brazenly public dining come perils. "You can't really talk business because you've got CAA right there. And they've got us," said an ICM agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity (silence is the agency policy when dealing with the press). "I've heard people at CAA having their conversations—you can hear everything."

To practitioners of a business built around power lunches, no hardship has been more disagreeable than Century City's restaurant anemia. "It's atrocious," one agent said of the local culinary portfolio, which includes the blandly named Gulfstream, Breeze, Harper's and Houston's.

Their previous temples were insulated from the indignities of the life of the average Angeleno, whether you were snuggled into a red banquette at the Grill—the gold standard for power lunching—or schmoozing with A-listers at Mr. Chow, Ago or Morton's.

Agents' collective prayer: that restaurateur Tom Colicchio's Craft—a Century City-bound offshoot of his popular eatery in New York City—will open soon...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:07 PM

      ( 5:13 PM ) The Rat  
And the house was so spacious! With grateful surprise, Pnin thought that had there been no Russian Revolution, no exodus, no expatriation in France, no naturalization in America, everything—at the best, at the best, Timofey!—would have been much the same: a professorship in Kharkov or Kazan, a suburban house such as this, old books within, late blooms without.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:13 PM

      ( 3:05 PM ) The Rat  

Britain's growing obesity problem is forcing crematoria to build bigger furnaces because of the broader coffins of their expanding clientele, officials said Wednesday.

Standard coffins are typically between 22-26 inches (55-65 centimetres) wide, but many undertakers now use super-size 40 inch-wide casks to accommodate bigger bodies...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:05 PM

      ( 2:54 PM ) The Rat  
RATTY'S NEPHEW (approx. 8-1/2 mos.) said his first words earlier this week! Woo-hoo!

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:54 PM

      ( 2:58 AM ) The Rat  
When a man rides a long time through wild regions he feels the desire for a city. Finally he comes to Isidora, a city where the buildings have spiral staircases encrusted with spiral seashells, where perfect telescopes and violins are made, where the foreigner hesitating between two women always encounters a third, where cockfights degenerate into bloody brawls among the bettors. He was thinking of all these things when he desired a city. Isidora, therefore, is the city of his dreams: with one difference. The dreamed-of city contained him as a young man; he arrives at Isidora in his old age. In the square there is the wall where the old men sit and watch the young go by; he is seated in a row with them. Desires are already memories.
Invisible Cities

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:58 AM

      ( 2:47 AM ) The Rat  
One final dialogue between Kublai and Marco remains. Where, Kublai asks, are the promised lands? Why has Marco not spoken of New Atlantis, Utopia, the City of the Sun, New Harmony, and all the other cities of redemption? 'For these parts I could not draw a route on the map or set a date for the landing,' Marco replies, but already the Great Khan, leafing through his atlas, comes upon the cities of 'nightmares and maledictions': Babylon, Yahooland, Brave New World, and the others. In despair, the aged Kublai states his nihilism: the current draws us at last to the infernal city. Wonderfully, the last words are given to Polo, who speaks for what is still hopeful in the reader. We are indeed already in 'the inferno of the living.' We can accept it, and so cease to be conscious of it. But there is a better way, and it might be called the wisdom of Italo Calvino: and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.

Calvino's advice tells us again how to read and why: be vigilant, apprehend and recognize the possibility of the good, help it to endure, give it space in your life.

How to Read and Why

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 AM

Saturday, April 21, 2007
      ( 4:06 PM ) The Rat  
FICTIONAL CITIES. Indices of fiction and non-fiction set in Venice, Florence, and London. A very nifty idea for a site—though a list for St. Petersburg would be way cooler.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:06 PM

      ( 2:57 PM ) The Rat  
BARCELONA AND MODERNITY: GAUDI TO DALI looks seriously yummy. Till June 3, at the Met.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:57 PM

      ( 2:33 PM ) The Rat  
BAR OF SOAP GIVES CAFFEINE KICK IN THE SHOWER. I guess you could use it after being jolted out of sleep by the Super Loud Ninja Alarm.

The soap, called Shower Shock, supplies the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee per wash, with the stimulant absorbed naturally through the skin, manufacturers say...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:33 PM

      ( 6:02 AM ) The Rat  
At this point Kublai Khan interrupted him or imagined interrupting him, or Marco Polo imagined himself interrupted, with a question such as: 'You advance always with your head turned back?' or 'Is what you see always behind you?' or rather, 'Does your journey take place only in the past?'

All this so that Marco Polo could explain or imagine explaining or be imagined explaining or succeed finally in explaining to himself that what he sought was always something lying ahead, and even if it was a matter of the past it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey, because the traveler's past changes according to the route he has followed: not the immediate past, that is, to which each day that goes by adds a day, but the more remote past. Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.

Marco enters a city; he sees someone in a square living a life or an instant that could be his; he could now be in that man's place, if he had stopped in time, long ago; or if, long ago, at a crossroads, instead of taking one road he had taken the opposite one, and after long wandering he had come to be in the place of that man in the square. By now, from that real or hypothetical past of his, he is excluded; he cannot stop; he must go on to another city, where another of his pasts awaits him, or something perhaps that had been a possible future of his and is now someone else's present. Futures not achieved are only branches of the past: dead branches.

'Journeys to relive your past?' was the Khan's question at this point, a question which could also have been formulated: 'Journeys to recover your future?'

And Marco's answer was: 'Elsewhere is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering the much he has not had and will never have.'

Invisible Cities

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:02 AM

Friday, April 20, 2007
      ( 5:08 PM ) The Rat  

The best stylists can individualize cuts for a person's face: For women, a round face usually looks best with hair that falls below the chin, for instance, while curls can soften the angles on a square face. High-end hairdressers also know how to work with different types of hair. Some people have thicker hair on certain areas of their head; an expert stylist can make a naturally lopsided head of hair look more balanced. High-paid stylists often have more tools in their haircutting kits: Instead of using only scissors, which work better for straight cuts, the deluxe barber might use a razor to trim and create a layering effect. A top-of-the-line haircut will also retain its style as it grows out, meaning you can wait longer before going back for another trim. (As a sloppy haircut grows out, you can often see the layering getting heavy and uneven.) Plus, the more cash you drop, the more likely you are to get bonus amenities like a hair wash, a scalp massage, or a private room.

So, was Edwards' luxury cut worth it? Probably not. Experts say his hairstyle—a straightforward, boyish part—is pretty easy to achieve without all the extra preening...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:08 PM

      ( 4:10 PM ) The Rat  
GIRLY DRINKS ARE GOOD FOR YOU! I love the line about the researchers "stumbl[ing] upon their finding unexpectedly."

A fruity cocktail may not only be fun to drink but may count as health food, U.S. and Thai researchers said on Thursday.

Adding ethanol—the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits—boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the researchers found.

Any colored fruit might be made even more healthful with the addition of a splash of alcohol, they report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Berries, for instance, contain compounds known as polyphenols and anthocyanins. People who eat more of these fruits and vegetables have a documented lower risk of cancer, heart disease and some neurological diseases...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:10 PM

      ( 2:44 PM ) The Rat  

Japan's 'toiletgate' is heating up as the country's second-biggest maker of high-tech 'washlets' went public with its own tales of malfunction.

INAX Corporation says there were seven cases of its toilet-bidet combinations either smoking or catching fire between 1991 and 2005.

Its announcement follows an admission this week by Toto, Japan's leading 'washlet' maker, that 29 of its products became undesirable places to, well, you know.

Toto said it will check 180,000 units for possible repairs, while INAX had recalled 30,000 toilets more than 20 years ago after cases of overheating...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:44 PM

      ( 2:14 AM ) The Rat  
INTERESTING STUFF IN THIS (from January 2006).

The documents show a particularly hard-line side of Churchill as a wartime leader, including his suggestion that Britain should retaliate for Nazi attacks in Czechoslovakia by destroying three German villages for every Czech village assaulted by the Nazis, according to the reports.

At one war cabinet meeting in December 1942, the records show, Churchill commented, "Contemplate that if Hitler falls into our hands we shall certainly put him to death," describing him as "the mainspring of evil." The prime minister proposed that Hitler should be treated like a "gangster" and executed in an electric chair from the United States. At the time, Britain carried out executions by hanging; capital punishment has since been banned in Britain.

It is unclear whether Churchill was serious or jesting, according to the reports, when he suggested that the United States might provide an electric chair as part of its lend-lease assistance program.

"Instrument—electric chair, for gangsters no doubt available on Lease Lend," the prime minister was quoted as saying...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:14 AM

      ( 2:04 AM ) The Rat  

"We've done it," said senior producer Julie Snyder, who was personally interviewed for a 2003 This American Life episode, "Going Eclectic," in which she described what it's like to be a bilingual member of the ACLU trained in kite-making by a Japanese stepfather. "There is not a single existential crisis or self-congratulatory epiphany that has been or could be experienced by a left-leaning agnostic that we have not exhaustively documented and grouped by theme."

Added Snyder, "We here at public radio couldn't be more pleased with ourselves."

This American Life host and producer Ira Glass began work on the project in 1995 in Chicago, where he found himself inspired by and catering to an audience of professionals who dine out frequently and have a hard time getting angry. Glass and his team of producers, writers, and interns set about the exhausting task of gathering all available information on a range of subjects from minor skirmishes with the law to the rewards of occasionally talking to poor people.

Though This American Life is now lauded as the definitive source for material about getting an autistic teenager admitted to Harvard, its early run was marked by painful trial-and-error, according to producer Alex Blumberg. [...]

[A]iding the study were the many contributors to This American Life, who took time from their best-selling essay-writing careers to donate personal anecdotes about dropping out of prestigious art schools, taking harrowing but poignant childhood vacations to the Grand Canyon, and the unique challenges of growing up in families supportive of their homosexuality...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:04 AM

Thursday, April 19, 2007
      ( 9:16 PM ) The Rat  
HEH. I think it's the capital M that makes this for me. Dedication to Sanford Pinsker's The Comedy That 'Hoits': An Essay on the Fiction of Philip Roth:

For my Mother, who hoped I would write about somebody else.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:16 PM

      ( 8:43 PM ) The Rat  
[I]t is difficult to separate recall of 'the way we were' from current appraisals of 'the way we are.' Consistency biases often color couples' retrospective assessments of how they once felt, with the present sense of the relationship dictating memory for how things used to be. Consider, for instance, dating college students who were asked, in separate sessions conducted two months apart, to evaluate themselves and their dating partners on such traits as honesty, kindness, intelligence, and also according to how much they like and love their partners. During the second session, the couples also recalled earlier evaluations. The students whose evaluations of their partners became more negative over time recalled their initial impressions as more negative than they actually were. Students who reported liking or loving a partner more in the second session in the first also recalled having felt more love or liking in the past. Memories of past impressions and feelings were filtered through, and made consistent with, partners' current impressions and feelings...
The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:43 PM

      ( 7:58 PM ) The Rat  
BEST POSTMASTER.CO.UK POLL EVER (currently greets you when you log in). Results are as of this posting—2,749 respondents total.

I have had on my current pair of underpants for
—today only
[71 percent]
—2 days [8 percent]
—3 days [1 percent]
—4 days [3 percent]
—I can't say [1 percent]
—I can't remember [2 percent]
—I wear no pants [7 percent]
—I do not wish to answer this question [7 percent]

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:58 PM

      ( 7:26 PM ) The Rat  

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has confessed to being "very sexual" in kindergarten...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:26 PM

      ( 2:28 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:28 PM

      ( 2:13 PM ) The Rat  
LAST POST ON THE SUBJECT FOR TODAY (and, I hope, for awhile) ...I'm posting just because the last five paragraphs of this will really resonate, I think, with any immigrant family. And you can hear, IMO, in the grandfather's language/word choice, the consciousness of social obligation and family responsibility that I was trying to get at in my earlier post. Heartbreaking.

When grandfather Kim did speak with his daughter, her mood would brighten when she told him about her son and daughter. The daughter graduated from Princeton University.

Kim said he felt grief, anguish and sorrow over the shooting.

"Seung-Hui troubled his parents when he was young because he wouldn't talk, but he was well-behaved. I don't know how I can compensate for the responsibility for raising my kids improperly," Kim told the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper.

He extended his deepest sympathies to the victims of the shooting and their families.

"I don't know how he could do this when his parents went to a country far away and worked hard."

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:13 PM

      ( 2:04 PM ) The Rat  

—"promiscuity" (when applied to anything that can't actually have sex, e.g., genres)

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:04 PM

      ( 1:15 PM ) The Rat  
I NOTE, WITH GREAT REGRET, that Clocky turned out to be a disappointment. The unit arrived yesterday, and I first had various difficulties with the battery-compartment door (it was nearly impossible to open without scratching the plastic). These were eventually sorted out, with the help of a barely-this-side-of-condescending customer-service rep; but here are my other concerns about Clocky:

—He's made in China. At this price point, I expected better. (Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of provenance in the online description.) I expressed my views on Chinese-made products, and their quality, to the company, and got an e-mail back sniffing that "All of our products are made from high quality materials and inspected through a rigorous process of testing and certification."

—Clocky actually only runs around for 30 seconds before coming to rest, at which point he just behaves like an ordinary alarm clock. The company rep pointed out that this decision was made in order to optimize battery life, which makes sense. Still, it would be nice if they could figure out a way to lengthen the period to at least a minute. The more so since Clocky is actually pretty awesome in running-around phase!

—During one of our conversations, the rep I spoke to assured me that I shouldn't be having any problems with the door (this, at a point when it was falling off whenever Clocky jumped off a 2'-high surface), because Clocky is engineered to last through at least 1,000 uses. Admittedly, this isn't an ordinary alarm clock—we don't expect ordinary alarm clocks to sustain the shock of a 2' fall, then run and spin around the room. Still, I'm probably not the only one who'll find the concept of a 1,000-use alarm clock somewhat off-putting (again—especially given this price, and this country of origin).

—The device does have a low-battery warning, which was an excellent call. It's possible to lock the wheels, when you just want a conventional alarm clock; and the snooze function can be set at any one-minute increment, up to nine minutes. Also, Clocky, which is currently available in white, aqua, and mint, will soon also be offered in mustard orange. (No, I don't know the reason for the '70s-ish color palette.) That said, a few more basic features would be nice—e.g., volume control, and more than one option for the alarm sound. If Clocky is successful enough to go to new versions, maybe we'll see these things then.

I still think Clocky is an ingenious solution to an age-old problem—viz., that getting out of bed really, really sucks. I'd actually be willing to pay more than the current price, for a slightly better-engineered product that wasn't made in China. Maybe the makers will eventually come through.* Till then, save your money.

*Though I doubt it—there are probably more people willing to buy a less-long-lasting device with fewer features, but at the current price. I just happen to be willing to economize in other areas in order to afford the occasional, really well-made splurge.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:15 PM

      ( 11:11 AM ) The Rat  
WHEN ETHNICITY BRINGS AN UNWELCOME FOCUS. I've been trying to limit posts on the shooting, which has already become something of a circus (though I was amused to see that it was quickly dethroned on Drudge, by the latest American Idol elimination); but there are some good points in this article. I thought the comments of the radio host were particularly idiotic:

"It's a lack of intelligence to think that one lunatic shoots up a university and we're going to go after all the Koreans," John Kobylt of "The John & Ken Show" on KFI-AM (640) told his audience Tuesday afternoon. He poked fun at Korean Americans' self-blame, accusing them of "playing the race card.... Now look who's stereotyping."

Don't be an ass. The fact is that in a majority-white society, whites aren't so much white as neutral—they don't need to think about their color most of the time, because it's the default. Asians don't have to think about color much either, because we aren't, on the whole, associated with violence or criminality—but when something like this happens, it's only natural to wonder if people will draw conclusions about your race specifically, or about Asians as a whole. I don't mean people will wonder if all Koreans are secretly psychotic (we already knew the answer to that, heh)—but I do think people will speculate about, for instance, Asian family dynamics, and what kind of nastiness might be hidden behind the smooth surfaces presented by what is typically a "model minority."

There's also the additional factor (alluded to in this article) of Asian cultures being historically what E.R. Dodds called "shame" cultures, rather than "guilt" cultures. I don't think about my race on a regular basis—I've never been a member of any Asian student associations, and the last time most of my friends were Asian was in seventh grade. But I do, at some level, see nearly everything I do as a reflection on my parents—to a degree I suspect is relatively rare among whites (excepting the Jews, of course!). This isn't because anybody ever sat me down and told me to feel that way, or taught me in a classroom about "face"—it's just the sense the family environment was saturated with, the ethos I grew up with. Part of that ethos comes from our being Taiwanese (well, Han Chinese). Several years ago, I was struck by a comment one of my brothers made, to the effect that the behavior of certain individuals "made him feel ashamed to be Chinese." I was struck by the comment, but also knew exactly what he meant—and both my brother and I live very color-neutral lives. (I actually don't remember what failings provoked the comment—knowing that brother, it was probably something like, people who don't understand particle physics...)

Besides—and as Mr. Kobylt might have realized if he'd thought about it a little more—this is kind of a new thing for Asians in this country. Or as a friend (who's Korean) wrote, in an e-mail shortly after the shootings: "I was interested when they were talking about it on the news because the reporters kept asking eye-witnesses who the guy was and what he looked like. They were asking, 'Was he white or black?' And then when it turned out he was Asian, it didn't even seem to register."

Soon after the shootings, it was falsely reported in the Korean press that the killer's parents had attempted suicide. Actually, they had been hospitalized and were being treated for shock. But I'll say this: There's a reason that that rumor was plausible enough to Korean press to be picked up and run as a story. I'm not saying that every Asian feels that degree of complicity or shame in connection with the actions of near relatives—but the sense of collectivity is really intense (far more so than I, for instance, long believed it to be). This is, after all, why Asian and Jewish family psychodramas are so much more hilarious than just about any other kind! It's a different sense of autonomy, and of personal identity. Most Western languages have a word for "individualism" that's either positive or neutral—that, at any rate, isn't at all pejorative. I can't speak for Korean, Japanese, etc.—but I do know that Chinese doesn't.

P.S. I do think the Times article goes overboard in one respect, summed up by the quote from the Muslim Public Affairs Council rep: "It's a sad commentary that we have to be relieved when the story is not going to be one about our religion or ethnicity or race." I don't think it's a particularly sad commentary... Inconvenient, yes. But unless you're going to somehow engineer a society in which there are strictly even numbers of whites, Asians, Middle Easterners, Hispanics, etc., I don't see how you're going to get around this. It's not mean-spiritedness on anybody's part; it's just a corollary of living in an unevenly-mixed-race society.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:11 AM

      ( 11:08 AM ) The Rat  
MONTY PYTHON'S "Village Idiot" sketch, via YouTube.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:08 AM

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
      ( 11:55 PM ) The Rat  
LOW, SLOW AND SUCCULENT. Jeffrey Steingarten has also written about this—the recently renewed interest in sous vide cooking.

Cooking meat, or seafood, slowly and at extremely low temperatures does more than get the job done. It changes everything for the better—the texture turns more tender, the flavor becomes more concentrated—which is why chefs around the world, such as Ferran Adrià, David Bouley and, closer to home, Govind Armstrong, are so enamored of sous-vide. They seal food in plastic, then poach it at super-low temperatures. But it's astonishingly easy to get the same effect using only the appliance you have, not the one you dream of: Turn the oven to a setting just above what you would use to keep pancakes warm, or on the stove, bring a pot of water to just below a simmer. Insert ribs or sea scallops or whatever.

And in very little time you will be biting into the most true-to-itself pork or shellfish you have ever experienced.

The same ribs and scallops—or shrimp or salmon or lamb—seared on a grill or in a very hot pan will seize up and turn tough in seconds. But when cooked slowly at a temperature barely high enough to singe your fingers, they all become soft and succulent. It's one of the most low-tech methods imaginable, but it produces results that many practitioners of the most out-there "molecular gastronomy" would envy...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:55 PM

      ( 3:23 PM ) The Rat  
TEXT OF SHEL SILVERSTEIN'S "PEANUT-BUTTER SANDWICH." Wow, it's so many years since I read this poem that I only just now realized this is exactly how I am about coffee...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:23 PM

      ( 2:14 PM ) The Rat  

Across all occupations, on average 47 percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs and 33 percent reported being very happy.

Here are the Top 10 most gratifying jobs and the percentage of subjects who said they were very satisfied with the job:

Clergy—87 percent
Firefighters—80 percent
Physical therapists—78 percent
Authors—74 percent
Special education teachers—70 percent
Teachers—69 percent
Education administrators—68 percent
Painters and sculptors—67 percent
Psychologists—67 percent
Security and financial services salespersons—65 percent
Operating engineers—64 percent
Office supervisors—61 percent

A few common jobs in which about 50 percent of participants reported high satisfaction included: police and detectives, registered nurses, accountants, and editors and reporters.

The perceived prestige surrounding an occupation also had an effect on job satisfaction and general happiness. Not all jobs linked with prestige topped these charts, however, including doctors and lawyers. Smith attributes this to the high degree of responsibility and stress associated with such jobs.

"The least satisfying dozen jobs are mostly low-skill, manual and service occupations, especially involving customer service and food/beverage preparation and serving," Smith said.

Here are the 10 least gratifying jobs, where few participants reported being very satisfied:

Laborers, except construction—21 percent
Apparel clothing salespersons—24 percent
Handpackers and packagers—24 percent
Food preparers—24 percent
Roofers—25 percent
Cashiers—25 percent
Furniture and home-furnishing salespersons—25 percent
Bartenders—26 percent
Freight, stock and material handlers—26 percent
Waiters and servers—27 percent

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:14 PM

      ( 2:10 PM ) The Rat  

We all know not to feed the animals when visiting the zoo. Now the Antwerp Zoo has urged visitors to, please, stop staring at the chimpanzees.

New rules have been posted outside the chimp enclosure at the city zoo urging visitors not to form a bond with a particular male chimp named 'Cheetah.' He was raised by humans but is now bonding with the seven other apes at the park, a zoo official said Wednesday...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:10 PM

      ( 2:07 PM ) The Rat  
RATTY'S GOING TO START USING THIS as an excuse for not showing up for class...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:07 PM

      ( 2:38 AM ) The Rat  

Officially, William was said to be focusing on his army career. Unofficially, there was talk of other women, of needing to sow some royal oats before settling down. But behind it all, there has been a persistent bass note: The Middletons weren't royal in-law material.

The fact that one-third of inner-city Londoners live in low-income households, while the average house in Kensington sells for $1.6 million, seems to inspire far less collective angst than the anonymous quotes from courtiers who revealed that mates of William's would snicker "doors to manual," a reference to her mother's former airline job, when Kate entered the room...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:38 AM

      ( 2:32 AM ) The Rat  

The research is based on a small study involving 136 seniors over the age of 65 who were given brain scans and cognitive testing on a regular basis over a five-year period.

By the end of the study, 23 of the volunteers had developed a condition known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and, of those, nine went on to develop Alzheimer's disease, a progressive brain disorder which is on the rise in developed nations.

When the researchers compared the brain scans of the 23 individuals who went on to develop memory problems with the 113 volunteers who did not, they found that the first group had less gray matter in areas of the brain involved with memory processing than the second group even when their brain function was normal.

"We found that changes in brain structure are present in clinically normal people an average of four years before MCI diagnosis," said Charles Smith, author of the study and an expert on memory and aging at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:32 AM

      ( 2:14 AM ) The Rat  
TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD, PRESS PLAY. I couldn't make this shit up.

The first part of the project, a 20-CD set of the New Testament for $49.95, will arrive in stores in October. Considering the proven potency of both the audio-book marketplace and Christian retail, it might be a holiday-gift sensation. The presence of Caviezel should give it instant cachet in many Christian circles; the 100-person cast also includes Terence Stamp as God, Michael York as the narrator, Luke Perry as Judas and Marisa Tomei as Mary Magdalene. The recording sessions began in July, but, to the consternation of Amari and director JoBe Cerny, the role of Satan is still up in the air.

"We're still experimenting," Cerny said Tuesday from the studio in Chicago. "We have some ideas and someone in mind, but nothing is for sure yet. It's a challenge because it needs to sound really devious and seductive and, uh, you know, devilish. But you don't want to be too over-the-top."

York, who noted that Americans seem to cast Brits as both deities and devils in movies ("I think it has to do with diction"), said he was surprised to hear that the fiery role was still available. "How about that fellow from 'American Idol,' Simon Cowell? He's seems up for the job."

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:14 AM

      ( 2:02 AM ) The Rat  
ON A RELATED NOTE, check out the "emergency thong"! (JS, when Ratty sent this to her: "You know, I clicked on the link, and then stepped away for a sec, and when I got back, I saw these and thought I'd accidentally clicked on some racy ad—I was totally at a loss as to how I'd gotten to the website. Now I realize that it was you, as usual...")

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:02 AM

      ( 2:00 AM ) The Rat  
IT'S A COVERUP. Okay, fine—and, being a short Rat, I'll take "sky-high platforms" over flip-flops anyday. Still... turbans?!

[T]he retro swimwear trend really took off with the spring collections, when Stella McCartney showed a playful blue-and-green two-piece with bloomers on the bottom, and Karl Lagerfeld channeled Brigitte Bardot with a boucle knit bandeau and briefs at Chanel. Miuccia Prada made the most convincing case for poolside modesty when she paired jewel-tone satin tunics and turbans straight out of "Sunset Boulevard."

More than anyone else, Prada broke from the kind of fussy ornamentation that had been driving fashion. Above all, she exulted the female form, putting the spotlight on the most innocent of feminine assets, a great pair of gams.

And as unimaginable as it may have seemed, our bare-it-all pop culture is actually catching on to the coverup trend. Scarlett Johansson played the 1940s starlet in the April issue of Vogue, baring very little as she posed in Dolce & Gabbana and Prada at the pool and the beach. Another curvy girl, Beyoncé Knowles, posed for the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue in a yellow-and-orange bikini of her own design with an ample boy-cut brief.

This move toward covering up could be a reaction to too many crotch-shot-stealing years of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. But it's also about a renewed interest in getting dressed, even for the pool—wearing lipstick, leaving your jewelry on, ditching those $4.99 flip-flops for sky-high platform sandals, and protecting that fabulous coif with an even more fabulous bathing cap. It's about returning the mystery to fashion by not letting it all hang out...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:00 AM

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
      ( 11:42 AM ) The Rat  
ELI LEHRER on the Virginia Tech shootings. Much as I support saner CCW laws, there are some good points here (and which probably won't made by either the "An armed citizenry is the problem" side or the "An unarmed citizenry is the problem" side). Of course, the answer to Lehrer's last question below might well be, "Well, after this they might!" I'd certainly at least consider it, if it weren't that even the possession of firearms (let alone concealed carry) is prohibited on my campus. (By the way, does the Concealed Carry Database have the best URL ever or what?)

Gun-control opponents will likely argue that only an armed citizenry can protect people from random mass shootings. This makes sense. College students vote, drive cars, and pay at least some taxes. If their state otherwise allows concealed carry of firearms, there’s reason to think it should apply to students on campus as well. But it’s impossible to know if such a law would have prevented the Virginia Tech shooting. During the State of Virginia's last campus shooting—an incident at Appalachian Law School in January of 2002—two members of the school's shooting team went to their cars, got their weapons, and managed to subdue a crazed gunman after he killed only one. But even Virginia Tech's stringent on-campus weapons policy contains exceptions for its Corps of Cadets and, if I'm reading it correctly, shooting teams. In theory, the same thing could have happened there. In any case, armed people can't always make a difference: security guards with weapons did not stop the shooting at Columbine high school in 1999. Given the total absence of crime from the Virginia Tech campus, would many students or faculty would have even bothered to carry weapons for personal protection even if it were allowed?

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:42 AM

      ( 11:06 AM ) The Rat  

Waiters are on the front lines observing women’s complicated relationship with food. Men are usually happy when I bring the dessert tray. Women, however, often groan, throw me hostile glances, or close their eyes and wave me away like I’m carrying a tray of fecal laden anthrax. Women, far more often than men, ask for dietetic changes that make menu items almost unpalatable. “Please sauté it with no oil, shortening, butter, or wine,” is my favorite. I’ll bet you’ll see men acting the same way soon. Now that women are achieving economic parity with males we’re feeling the pressure to transform ourselves into manscaped pieces of six pack ab eye candy. Soon we’ll be upchucking our entrees too. Talk about Karma...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:06 AM

      ( 1:49 AM ) The Rat  
Some people—and I am one of them—hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm. Doom should not jam. The avalanche stopping in its tracks a few feet above the cowering village behaves not only unnaturally but unethically.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:49 AM

Monday, April 16, 2007
      ( 7:27 PM ) The Rat  
Pnin, it should be particularly stressed, was anything but the type of that good-natured German platitude of last century, der zerstreute Professor. On the contrary, he was perhaps too wary, too persistently on the lookout for diabolical pitfalls, too painfully on the alert lest his erratic surroundings (unpredictable America) inveigle him into some bit of preposterous oversight. It was the world that was absent-minded and it was Pnin whose business it was to set it straight. His life was a constant war with insensate objects that fell apart, or attacked him, or refused to function, or viciously got themselves lost as soon as they entered the sphere of his existence. He was inept with his hands to a rare degree; but because he could manufacture in a twinkle a one-note mouth organ out of a pea pod, make a flat pebble skip ten times on the surface of a pond, shadowgraph with his knuckles a rabbit (complete with blinking eye), and perform a number of other tame tricks that Russians have up their sleeves, he believed himself endowed with considerable manual and mechanical skill. On gadgets he doted with a kind of dazed, superstitious delight. Electric devices enchanted him. Plastics swept him off his feet. He had a deep admiration for the zipper.

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:27 PM

Sunday, April 15, 2007
      ( 9:01 PM ) The Rat  
WIKIPEDIA'S LISTING SUGGESTS an alternative etymology for the term "horse latitudes" (easily one of my favorite random expressions in English, so I would much prefer the older/apocryphal explanation to be the true one...).

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:01 PM

      ( 8:59 PM ) The Rat  
He listened with the intense interest one feels in a stranger's life, the interest the young mistake for love.
The Heart of the Matter

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:59 PM

      ( 4:00 PM ) The Rat  
WELCOME, I THINK, to the reader who got here Googling for "chinese actresses with big breasts." (No, what were you really looking for?) This blog is result no. 28 of "about 691,000" for that search.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:00 PM

Saturday, April 14, 2007
      ( 4:46 AM ) The Rat  

Exposure to friendly soil bacteria could improve mood by boosting the immune system just as effectively as antidepressant drugs, a new study suggests.

Researchers exposed mice to a harmless soil microbe called Mycobacterium vaccae and had the rodents perform a behavioral task commonly used to test the efficacy of antidepressant drugs. The mice were placed in a large beaker of water for five minutes and watched to see how long they continued swimming and searching for an exit before giving up. The researchers found that the bacteria-exposed mice continued paddling around much longer than the control mice.

"At the risk of anthropomorphizing, you could say the [bacteria-exposed] mice had a more active coping style," said study leader Chris Lowry of the University of Bristol in England. Mice given antidepressant drugs also appear more determined to escape, Lowry added. The finding is detailed online by the journal Neuroscience.

Results from the new study are similar to those from a medical trial a few years ago in which human cancer patients treated with the bacteria reported significant increases in their quality of life.

"M. vaccae is no longer being pursued as a treatment for cancer, because it didn't prolong life, but patients did report increases in things like vitality and cognitive function and decreases in pain," Lowry told LiveScience...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:46 AM

      ( 4:45 AM ) The Rat  

What do a slice of cheese, a glass of water, and a plate of broccoli have in common? According to new research, consuming any of these foods seems to diminish the taste of cigarettes.

The research also found that cigarette taste is enhanced after eating meat or drinking alcohol or beverages that contain caffeine...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:45 AM

      ( 4:33 AM ) The Rat  
The young fellow, said the landlord, is beloved by all the town, and there is scarce a corner in Montriul where the want of him will not be felt: he has but one misfortune in the world, continued he, "He is always in love."
A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:33 AM

Friday, April 13, 2007
      ( 1:11 PM ) The Rat  

A customer came in and, without seeing the gunman, tried to calm Parker. She handed him the phone, and he spoke to the 911 operator.

The gunman then reappeared and told the man to get into the beverage cooler.

He then grabbed his loot and apologized again.

"You have a good day. I'm sorry this had to happen. I'm sorry. God!" he moaned. He then went out the door.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:11 PM

      ( 2:42 AM ) The Rat  
She said furiously, 'I don't want your pity.' But it was not a question of whether she wanted it—she had it. Pity smouldered like decay at his heart. He would never rid himself of it. He knew from experience how passion died away and how love went, but pity always stayed.
The Heart of the Matter

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:42 AM

      ( 2:33 AM ) The Rat  
HAVING LOST THE CAPACITY to pull unlimited quantities of consecutive all-nighters, somewhere around age 25, Ratty is realizing she might soon have to invest in one of these* (and then soup up the motor so it can zip around much faster than it's probably now designed to do). A little background here on Clocky's inventor, a grad student at M.I.T.

Clocky is the alarm clock that can jump down from up to 2 feet and run away and hide if one does not get out of bed on time. After one snooze cycle, Clocky will roll and move around the room with randomly patterned alarm beeps...

*Also available in shag!

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:33 AM

Thursday, April 12, 2007
      ( 5:24 PM ) The Rat  
It seemed to Scobie that life was immeasurably long. Couldn't the test of man have been carried out in fewer years? Couldn't we have committed our first major sin at seven, have ruined ourselves for love or hate at ten, have clutched at redemption on a fifteen-year-old death bed?
The Heart of the Matter

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:24 PM

      ( 3:34 PM ) The Rat  
HANGING ONTO MIDDLECLASSNESS BY YOUR FINGERNAILS. I actually do all four of the things listed (except the bus, now that I have wheels), but I do know what she means...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:34 PM

      ( 2:25 AM ) The Rat  
CHINA PUTS BAN ON ORGAN TRADE. Whew! I'm sure glad this means the CCP's harvesting of organs from executed prisoners is now going to stop! The rule of law is a wonderful thing.

Interesting article (from late 2006) here, on a Belgian senator's investigation into the Chinese organ trade.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:25 AM

      ( 2:11 AM ) The Rat  
SEX TOURISM: NOT JUST FOR MEN ANYMORE. Oldish post (May 2006), and the link to the Reuters story is broken; but, still, heh!

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:11 AM

      ( 1:53 AM ) The Rat  
SO I WAS BRIEFLY WONDERING what had happened to Lisa Perry's eBay auction, after the listing disappeared a couple days ago. Just figured it out, however—it's been relisted here. A little background info here.

The listing had to be removed and re-posted because of an eBay technicality. My own guess was that perhaps she had changed her mind... so, kudos for going through with it, Ms. Perry! (Sorry to, in essence, post the same story twice in three days—I've been fascinated ever since first hearing about this. I don't think it's just because I own 800+ books, either—living as we do today, I doubt anybody can hear about this without feeling at least somewhat envious...)

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:53 AM

      ( 1:35 AM ) The Rat  
KURT VONNEGUT has died. Ratty met Vonnegut once 20 years ago, at a class at UC Irvine. If you only have time for one of his books, make it Cat's Cradle. (By the way, the line "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt" just made me think, "So, kinda the opposite of grad school, huh?")

A self-described religious skeptic and freethinking humanist, Vonnegut used protagonists such as Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater as transparent vehicles for his points of view. He also filled his novels with satirical commentary and even drawings that were only loosely connected to the plot. In "Slaughterhouse-Five," he drew a headstone with the epitaph: "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

But much in his life was traumatic, and left him in pain.

Despite his commercial success, Vonnegut battled depression throughout his life, and in 1984, he attempted suicide with pills and alcohol, joking later about how he botched the job.

His mother had succeeded in killing herself just before he left for Germany during World War II, where he was quickly taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. He was being held in Dresden when Allied bombs created a firestorm that killed an estimated tens of thousands of people in the city.

"The firebombing of Dresden explains absolutely nothing about why I write what I write and am what I am," Vonnegut wrote in "Fates Worse Than Death," his 1991 autobiography of sorts.

But he spent 23 years struggling to write about the ordeal, which he survived by huddling with other POW's inside an underground meat locker labeled slaughterhouse-five...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:35 AM

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
      ( 11:47 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:47 PM

      ( 1:24 PM ) The Rat  
YIKES. Why don't they just say, "Wanted: Shit Magnet"?

The White House is considering naming a high-powered official to oversee the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan and report directly to President Bush and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The goal would be to improve the coordination of military and civilian efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan by different parts of the government.

The Washington Post reported that the White House has approached at least three retired four-star generals in recent weeks, but they have declined to be considered for the position.

Currently, the most senior White House official responsible exclusively for the wars is Meghan O'Sullivan, a deputy national security adviser who reports to Hadley. She has announced she is leaving, presenting an opportunity for the White House to rethink how it manages the wars.

"The White House is looking into creating a higher profile position that would have the single, full time focus on implementing and executing the recently completed strategic reviews for both Iraq and Afghanistan," Johndroe said...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:24 PM

      ( 10:59 AM ) The Rat  

While the classifications of the town's females remained unaffected by their own actions during the tornado, three girls were reportedly made into women during the ensuing power outage.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:59 AM

      ( 12:37 AM ) The Rat  
Remember: Cotton and Christmas don't mix, no matter what your chic-but-cheap retailer tries to tell you. This rule of ours exists for a reason that has nothing to do with the fact that we have friends in the wool business. Life goes by quickly. We often repeat the same thing day after day: Wake up, work, go to sleep. We humans need variety! Because technology does a fine job of protecting us from the more extreme vagaries of our environment, you might ask, why not wear voile on Thanksgiving? Well, because then life is one long stretch of endless voile-wearing and, really, who wants that?
Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:37 AM

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
      ( 9:23 PM ) The Rat  

Farmers markets have changed American agriculture dramatically, even to the point that many ideas that once seemed radical now are accepted by even mainstream growers and supermarkets. But at the same time, this success has brought growing pains.

What made sense when markets were few and far between doesn't work nearly as well today, when there are almost 100 in Southern California alone.

This explosive growth has been a boon for small family farmers and for their customers, who now have easy access to high-quality fruits and vegetables. But it raises the question that if farmers are kept busy going to all those markets, when do they find time to grow anything?

That goes to the heart of Tumlin's concerns about the markets' future. Though he recognizes that the face-to-face interaction with farmers is one of the benefits that draws customers to the market, he points out that this luxury comes at a high price. It's like a chef having to stop cooking in order to hand-deliver every plate...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:23 PM

      ( 6:23 PM ) The Rat  
In our case, the content is the person inside the garment; the form is the garment itself. Some form and content marriages are quite obvious. Examples that come to mind are Paris Hilton and the line Heatherette, or Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy. Rarely, if ever, have those four names appeared in the same sentence.
Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:23 PM

      ( 5:19 PM ) The Rat  
SO RATTY IS HEADING TO TOBAGO in a few weeks, but never knew till last night that it's where Robinson Crusoe is set! There, I've filled your useless-trivia quota for the day.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:19 PM

      ( 12:18 AM ) The Rat  
GÎTES DE FRANCE. Not that I was looking.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:18 AM

      ( 12:00 AM ) The Rat  

Looking back, the residents of McLean maybe should have known better.

After all, they were not dealing with just any Fairfax County resident. This was Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish former national security adviser who contended in his day with Leonid Brezhnev and Ayatollah Khomeini.

It was not so surprising, then, that what followed their neighborly request for an easement on his property for a sidewalk was a drawn-out negotiation complete with lengthy missives listing the points that must be addressed to make an "eventual face to face discussion truly productive."

Only in Washington could an overture for a sidewalk produce responses such as: "What commitments are envisaged, how guaranteed, and by whom regarding the preservation of our privacy by replacing new fencing, tall planting and/or brick wall, etc. What alternative proposals are there regarding the foregoing?"

At some point, it dawned on the residents that they were in the middle of the suburban version of a Cold War summit. One homeowners association member wrote to another in an e-mail: "Dr. B is treating this transaction as if he were negotiating a strategic arms treaty."

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 AM

Monday, April 09, 2007
      ( 6:13 PM ) The Rat  
THE EBAY AUCTION being held by that lady in St. Paul who's selling off almost all her possessions in one lot, has gone above the $2,000 reserve price! I'm curious to see how high this auction goes (it closes on Thursday)—in case you want to take a look, the listing is here. Ms. Perry is giving all proceeds above $2,000 to charity, in the name of a soldier who died in Iraq last month.

Lisa Perry wants a fresh start. So she's decided to sell nearly all of her belongings in one massive auction on eBay.

Perry, 45, said the top bidder in the auction, ending Thursday, will get more than 300 items—including snowshoes, a futon, a bed, a Village People album, seashells and more.

Perry is keeping just a few things: her dog, her cat, photo albums and some clothing.

"This might be mid-life, but it's not a crisis. It's mid-life excitement," she said. "I don't need it all. I don't use it all. I just have it all. Actually, it has me." [...]

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:13 PM

      ( 11:28 AM ) The Rat  
WHOA. At least they'll save on white-out doing the paperwork...

[James] Giles, who spent 10 years in prison and was paroled in 1993, is seeking to vacate his 1983 conviction. New evidence suggests that another man—also named James Giles—committed the rape. Dallas County prosecutors more than two decades ago knew about the other James Giles, who lived across the street from the victim, but never told Giles' defense...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:28 AM

      ( 11:14 AM ) The Rat  

"We need to aggressively pursue whatever it is people think we should do," Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said. "We took a bold stance against the war—is that okay with everyone? We thought that was what people wanted, but we are not above changing our minds if that is what the situation requires. We also aired some pretty harsh rhetoric about the current administration—were we out of line? If people think we should ease back on the president for a while, we'll be more than happy to take a week off and focus on naming airports. We just need to know."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is confident, or mostly confident, that the results of the inquiry will make the Democratic Party more responsive to the needs of its constituents, or at least more likeable.

"We just want to be as popular as we can be," Reid said. "Without immediate and diligent oversight on this matter, we have no idea if we are or are not doing whatever it is everybody may or may not want at any given time."

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:14 AM

Sunday, April 08, 2007
      ( 9:01 PM ) The Rat  
SOME GOOD CARDS at PostSecret this week, but the Bill and Ted, receipt, and anarchy ones are my favorites. Especially the last, as it's always nice when I can find any complete sentence/thought in Russian that I'm still able to read! I kind of wish Warren would translate when people send in cards in foreign languages—not that I don't enjoy them when they're in a language I can read, but there have been cards in languages that probably only a fraction of PostSecret's readership have, e.g., Japanese. A footnote/gloss at the very bottom of the page would decipher foreign-language cards for those who don't have that particular language, without spoiling the effect for those who do. (The card this week says, "I no longer believe in anarchy, because now I know what it is.")

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:01 PM

Saturday, April 07, 2007
      ( 2:18 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:18 PM

      ( 12:43 PM ) The Rat  
SO AS YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD, postage rates are going up (and in some cases down) as of May 14. The USPS site is unnecessarily confusing on the subject, but to sum up: a 1 oz. first-class letter is going up two cents to $0.41, and first-class postcards are also going up two cents, to $0.26. The additional-ounce rate for first-class letters is going down, from $0.24/oz. to $0.17/oz.

They're also introducing the "Forever" stamp, which will cost $0.41, but will continue to be valued—even through subsequent rate increases—at the then-current first-class rate.

International rates are also changing; as I doubt many people reading this need to send mail to the same countries I do, I'll just link the table, here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:43 PM

      ( 10:50 AM ) The Rat  
I LOVE CAPITALISM. From this article.

The [L.A.] MTA has TVs blasting ads at bus riders. It has ads wrapping around hundreds of buses.

Now, in another attempt to generate cash, the transit agency has allowed McDonald's to transform Metro Rail's biggest subway terminal into a massive ad campaign for the company's new Angus burger.

The 7th Street/Metro Center station in downtown Los Angeles is plastered with huge pictures of the burger—on walls, ceilings, lining the columns.

The ads are jarring some riders, who say the experience makes them want to never eat a burger again...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:50 AM

      ( 12:28 AM ) The Rat  
"The newspapers bring it up from time to time," said Mayhew. "She's been in the divorce court a good deal. She's a very rich woman, as I expect you know. She was married to that explorer fellow before Dittisham. She's always more or less in the public eye. The kind of woman who likes notoriety, I should imagine."

"Or possibly a hero worshiper," suggested Poirot.

The idea was upsetting to George Mayhew. He accepted it dubiously: "Well, possibly—yes, I suppose that might be so."

Five Little Pigs

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:28 AM

Friday, April 06, 2007
      ( 11:14 PM ) The Rat  

Five convicted sex offenders are living under a noisy highway bridge with the state's grudging approval because an ordinance intended to keep predators away from children made it nearly impossible for them to find housing.

Some of them sleep on cardboard raised slightly off the ground to avoid the rats. One of the men beds down on a pallet with a blanket and pillow. Some have been there for several weeks.

"You just pray to God every night, so if you fall asleep for a minute or two, you know, nothing happens to you," said 30-year-old Javier Diaz, who arrived this week. He was sentenced in 2005 to three years' probation for lewd and lascivious conduct involving a girl under 16.

The conditions are a consequence of laws passed here and elsewhere around the country to bar sex offenders from living near schools, parks and other places children gather. Miami-Dade County's 2005 ordinance—adopted partly in reaction to the case of a convicted sex offender who raped a 9-year-old Florida girl and buried her alive—says sex offenders must live at least 2,500 feet from schools.

"They've often said that some of the laws will force people to live under a bridge," said Charles Onley, a research associate at the federally funded Center for Sex Offender Management. "This is probably the first story that I've seen that confirms that."

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:14 PM

      ( 7:18 PM ) The Rat  
TO THE READER who got here Googling for "man chasing rat": Welcome!

I just checked and found that I am not, alas, also no. 1 on that search if you repeat it hyphenated. Indeed, "man-chasing rat" is almost Googlewhack material (but not quite, as Googlewhacks are supposed to be two-word only).

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:18 PM

      ( 7:04 PM ) The Rat  
I LOVE THIS STORY, told to me today by MW, concerning a couple he knows. One day the father took one of the kids, who was then about nine, to see Star Wars. After the movie, which the boy thoroughly enjoyed, the father had a sudden idea and asked his son teasingly: "And what would you do if I went over to the Dark Side?"

The son was silent for a moment, then said, quite seriously: "Well, I'd have to kill you."

The father, hearing this, thought a moment, and then said: "What would you do if your mother went over to the Dark Side?"

And the boy answered, without so much as a moment's hesitation:

"Oh, she wouldn't do that!"

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:04 PM

      ( 6:37 PM ) The Rat  

A suburban amusement park has gotten so many complaints from neighbors about bloodcurdling screams that it has instituted a no-shrieking rule for its scary new thrill ride, the Scandia Screamer, a gigantic, windmill-like contraption that sends people plunging 16 stories to Earth at nearly 60 mph...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:37 PM

      ( 6:35 PM ) The Rat  
HIV CHEF WHO RECKLESSLY INFECTED HIS LOVER IS JAILED FOR NINE YEARS. Don't miss the mind-bogglingly asshole comments (scroll down) implying that the woman asked for it, just by agreeing to have sex out of wedlock in the first place. That's right—the girl had sex with one guy without getting a ring first? Clearly she deserves HIV. Because no one has ever, in the history of the world, 1) inflicted sociopathic behavior on, or 2) passed an STD to, somebody they were married to.

Giovanni Mola, 38, who claimed to have had 200 lovers, refused to wear condoms after starting a relationship with the woman in Edinburgh in 2003. He had been found to have the viruses three years earlier but did not tell his new partner, who said she was a virgin.

The relationship between Mola and the woman began after they met in a shop. They had sex nine or ten times between September 2003 and February 2004 but he wore protection only on the first and last occasions.

His victim told the trial that he had “aggressively” refused to wear a condom the other times. She broke down after being told that she had tested positive at a clinic in Edinburgh for HIV and hepatitis C in March 2004...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:35 PM

Thursday, April 05, 2007
      ( 11:57 PM ) The Rat  
HEE! Great pic here (hit "click to enlarge").

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:57 PM

      ( 10:21 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:21 PM

      ( 10:19 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:19 PM

      ( 2:38 PM ) The Rat  
THAT DUVET COVER IS SO YOU. In a word, yikes.

[W]hat better way to combine a personal decorating touch with today's "look at me!" culture? Take the Le brothers—Conner, 5, and Christopher, 7. They aren't exactly marquee names. But at home—in hallways, on computer screens, on six years' worth of Christmas coffee mugs—their grinning faces are front and center. Their latest star turn? A canvas lampshade imprinted with pictures of their peewee football heroics. The lamp, a giclée art shade from Lamps Plus, employs the same detailed technique used in reproducing museum-quality artwork and was Le's ninth anniversary gift to his wife this year.

"If we could put pictures of them everywhere we would, but there's only so much wall space," he says. "It's another way to show them off without having to pull out the photo album."

A little ego stroking is part of the appeal, admits Steven Abrams, owner of Wallpaper Maker, an L.A.-based company that makes customized wall coverings ( He's planning to blow up one of his wedding photos to life-size scale and plaster it across a key wall in his 1,100-square-foot Sherman Oaks home...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:38 PM

      ( 2:24 PM ) The Rat  

Top-secret data on an advanced US military system was leaked because Japanese officers were swapping porn files at work, a newspaper said Thursday.

Japan is questioning a naval officer on charges he obtained confidential data on the US-developed Aegis combat system, the defence ministry said Wednesday.

The Aegis system has a cutting-edge radar and can launch missiles at more than 10 targets at one time. The data found on the officer's computer included formulas for the Aegis interceptor system and data on its radar's capacity to track several targets at once, the Yomiuri said...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:24 PM

      ( 6:59 AM ) The Rat  
[A]fter Kafka, Conrad is our most searching critic of bureaucracy.
—Michael Levenson

(It is true that certain passages of Kafka read exactly like talking to customer service.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 AM

      ( 6:55 AM ) The Rat  
NAKED CHOCOLATE JESUS NIXED, via the Onion (the answer on the left especially!). Ex-Girlfriend Playing Virtua Fighter With Some Other Guy Now (archives) is also not bad.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:55 AM

      ( 6:40 AM ) The Rat  
SOME INTERESTING STUFF AT WAITERRANT: I found "Helpless Vapor" principally interesting in juxtaposition with some of the readers' comments (esp. those from LMYC and Andrea). "Just Desserts" is worth a look if you order dessert when you eat out (unless you already knew most restaurant desserts aren't made on the premises; I seldom order dessert at restaurants, so it was news to me).

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:40 AM

      ( 6:31 AM ) The Rat  
TRAGICALLY, IT'S 6.30 AM AND ALREADY I CAN SAFELY BET THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING THING THAT WILL HAPPEN ALL DAY.* So I should have thought of this before, but if you make a paste with apple cider vinegar and baking soda (go light on the former and heavy on the latter, or you'll get that science-project-volcano effect), it does such a good job at removing tea/coffee/cola stains that your teapots/mugs/etc. will look brand new. Or better, arguably—I actually don't remember this teapot ever looking this pristine, even when I first brought it back from France.

*Okay, this is an exaggeration, inasmuch as I'm reading The Castle today. Only a little ways into it so far, but still, loved the bit below. It would be worth having servants just to do this...

"You're a difficult problem," said K., comparing them, as he had already done several times; "how am I to know one of you from the other? The only difference between you is your names; otherwise you're as like as—" He stopped, and then went on involuntarily: "You're as like as two snakes." They smiled. "People usually manage to distinguish us quite well," they said in self-justification. "I am sure they do," said K., "I was a witness of that myself; but I can only see with my own eyes, and with them I can't distinguish you. So I shall treat you as if you were one man and call you both Arthur; that's the name of one of you—yours, isn't it?" he asked one of them. "No," said the man, "I'm Jeremiah." "It doesn't matter," said K. "I'll call you both Arthur. If I tell Arthur to go anywhere, you must both go; if I give Arthur something to do, you must both do it. That has the great disadvantage for me of preventing me from employing you on separate jobs, but the advantage that you will both be equally responsible for anything I tell you to do. How you divide the work between you doesn't matter to me, only you're not to excuse yourselves by blaming each other; for me you're only one man." They considered this, and said: "We shouldn't like that at all." "I don't suppose so," said K.; "of course you won't like it, but that's how it has to be."

Maybe I can do it with my grad-student TAs one day...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:31 AM

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

06/01/2002 - 07/01/2002
07/01/2002 - 08/01/2002
08/01/2002 - 09/01/2002
09/01/2002 - 10/01/2002
10/01/2002 - 11/01/2002
11/01/2002 - 12/01/2002
12/01/2002 - 01/01/2003
01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003
03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003
04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003
05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003
06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003
07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003
08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003
10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003
11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003
12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004
03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005
01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005
04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010
07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010
12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011
01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011
02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011
08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011
09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012
10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012
11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012
12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013
01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013
02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013
03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013
04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013
05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013
06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013
07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013
08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013
09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013
10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013
12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014
01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014
02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014
05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014
Encyclopedia of Life
Shakespeare Search Engine
World Time Clock
Airport Mileage Calculator
Mileage Mall

60 Second Idea
SYSKPodcast on Twitter
Two Gomers
Map My Run
1,000 Awesome Things
Theodore Dalrymple
Met Live Stream
London Panoramas
Why Travel to France
Manolo's Shoe Blog
Daily Puppy
Miss Manners
Sandwich Mondays
Cradle to Cradle
A Daily Dose of Architecture
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Strange Maps
About Last Night
Paula Poundstone
The Daily Mirror
Classic Bloom County
Better Book Titles
Piled Higher and Deeper
Nietzsche Family Circus


Powered by Blogger