The Rat
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
      ( 4:01 PM ) The Rat  
RECEIPTS PER TOURIST ARRIVAL. Some unexpected figures here. Cf. this chart of the world's top tourism destinations.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:01 PM

      ( 11:42 AM ) The Rat  
Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.
—Orwell, "Some Notes on Salvador Dali"

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:42 AM

      ( 11:36 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:36 AM

      ( 12:18 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:18 AM

      ( 12:17 AM ) The Rat  
WHICH COUNTRIES GIVE MOST PATENTS? So much for Yankee ingenuity.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:17 AM

Monday, July 30, 2007
      ( 10:15 PM ) The Rat  

Gallup and his son tested their idea by creating an experiment where students were asked to watch a film of other people yawning.

When they held a cool compress to their head, or breathed through their nose—a natural brain coolant—they didn't yawn at all. But, if they breathed normally or held a warm compress to their heads, they were far more likely to yawn...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:15 PM

      ( 1:35 AM ) The Rat  
ONE 'COMFORT WOMAN' TAKES A STAND FOR ALL. H.Res.121 is scheduled for discussion and vote today.

Five months ago, the diminutive 78-year-old Lee testified before a Congressional committee of the fateful fall night in 1944 when she was kidnapped from her home and spirited to Taiwan to be a sex slave for Japanese kamikaze fighters and others.

Now she is hoping that Monday she can witness the vote of the U.S. Congress on a resolution sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, urging Japan to apologize for its systemic degradation of an estimated 200,000 women from Korea and the countries Japan invaded during World War II...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:35 AM

      ( 12:12 AM ) The Rat  
His mental sufferings were due to the fact that that night, as he looked at Gerasim's sleepy, good-natured face with its prominent cheek-bones, the question suddenly occurred to him: 'What if my whole life has really been wrong?'
The Death of Ivan Ilych

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:12 AM

Sunday, July 29, 2007
      ( 8:45 PM ) The Rat  

'Technology completely alters the way humanitarian work is done,' says Caroline Hurford of the World Food Programme (WFP), a United Nations body that is the single largest distributor of food aid. Once upon a time, when disaster struck, big agencies would roll up with grain, blankets and medicine and start handing them out. Victims would struggle to the relief camps, if they could. For aid workers (let alone recipients) there was no easy way to talk to head office.

Now, when an emergency occurs, the first people on the ground are often computer geeks, setting up telephone networks so other aid agencies can do their stuff. Donors keep track of supplies on spreadsheets and send each other SMS messages: this road has been attacked by bandits, that village cut off by floods. Transport agencies announce helicopter flights by e-mail. Aid providers can find out where exactly on an incoming ship their medical supplies are, saving hours hanging round the docks. Aid donors find it easier to locate the victims of disaster; and victims queue as eagerly for mobile-phone access as they do for food.

As a result, the organisation of aid is changing. On the ground, all big relief operations have communications centres where aid workers go to send e-mails, read the latest security updates and study satellite maps of the affected area. The UN's humanitarian-affairs office runs a portal called ReliefWeb, containing every map and document that might help aid donors; it got 3m hits a day after the Asian tsunami...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:45 PM

      ( 6:08 PM ) The Rat  
In the days that followed he learned something new: how a woman nagged. The very word, nag, was known to him only from foreign books and magazines. It had puzzled him. Living in a wife-beating society, he couldn't understand why women were even allowed to nag or how nagging could have any effect. He saw that there were exceptional women, Mrs Tulsi and Tara, for example, who could never be beaten. But most of the women he knew were like Sushila, the widowed Tulsi daughter. She talked with pride of the beatings she had received from her short-lived husband. She regarded them as a necessary part of her training and often attributed the decay of Hindu society in Trinidad to the rise of the timorous, weak, non-beating class of husband.

To this class Mr Biswas belonged. So Shama nagged; and nagged so well that from the first he knew she was nagging. It amazed him that someone so young should show herself so competent in such an alien skill. But there were things which should have warned him. She had never run a house, but at The Chase she had always behaved like an experienced housewife. Then there was her pregnancy. She took that as easily as if she had borne many children; she never spoke about it, ate no special foods, made no special preparations, and generally behaved so normally that at times he forgot she was pregnant.

So Shama nagged. With her gloom and a refusal to speak, first of all; then with a precise, economical and noisy efficiency. She didn't ignore Mr Biswas. She made it clear that she noted his presence, and that it filled her with despair.

A House for Mr Biswas

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:08 PM

Saturday, July 28, 2007
      ( 12:30 AM ) The Rat  
Nobody moved. As the hours dragged slowly through the darkness Mr. Baker crawled back and forth along the poop several times. Some men fancied they had heard him exchange murmurs with the master, but at that time the memories were incomparably more vivid than anything actual, and they were not certain whether the murmurs were heard now or many years ago.
The Nigger of the 'Narcissus'

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:30 AM

Friday, July 27, 2007
      ( 11:53 PM ) The Rat  
RATTY CUT OUT OF HOUSE ARREST this evening and went to see The Lives of Others, which a theater about 12 miles away has unexpectedly begun showing again, even though the DVD will be out in less than a month. I'm probably the second-to-last person in the country to see this movie, but for the sake of the last person, Eve, I just wanted to mention that it's definitely worth seeing in the theater. Note that I'm the biggest cheapskate around—I typically wait for things to come out on DVD, then obsessively inhale as many as I can in a month on a $9.99 Blockbuster Online plan (which turns out to be, about two dozen)—so it's fairly unusual for me to praise a movie I actually paid full price for.

I noticed, browsing reviewers' quotes a bit before heading over tonight, that my onetime boss had remarked to the friend he saw it with, "I think that is the best movie I ever saw." I disagree, actually—though Lives is not, ultimately, over-sentimental, it does skate perilously near to doing the Life Is Beautiful thing; and I would not call it the best movie I've ever seen, or even the best movie about Communism I've ever seen (which title would unquestionably go to Farewell, My Concubine). Since I'm mainly posting this for Eve, I'll just say, in shorthand she'll understand: Farewell, My Concubine is more like Lear, but Lives is more like Cyrano. The latter simply left too many unanswered, or not-quite-answered, questions for me to feel it was artistically in the first rank—I tended to get distracted by the ways it was unrealistic, or cut in too-clean lines. Still, there's a place for things like Cyrano—and, more to the point, I think it's a sign we've lost something, when we get to the point of only being able to praise works like Lear, at the expense of works like Cyrano: They both have a place (especially in the movies!), just on different orders of magnitude. And you still have to see it in the theater, Eve! If they've brought it back to some random-ass place in central New Jersey, it must be available somewhere in D.C.

One thing these two films do have in common, unfortunately—their respective leads are both no longer with us. Leslie Cheung, whose performance in Concubine will leave you feeling like you've been hit by a train, committed suicide in 2003; and the exceptional Ulrich Mühe just died, of stomach cancer, earlier this week.

There were other specific things I really liked about this movie, but I've already played hooky for too long today, so I'm just going to pull a Fermat here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:53 PM

      ( 10:49 AM ) The Rat  

So many fashion ads feature celebrities now that it isn’t even faintly jarring to flip through the August issue of Vogue and see Scarlett Johansson lying on her belly with a Louis Vuitton bag over her shoulder and 10 pages later find her flat on her back, her cascading blond hair spread to promote L’Oréal Superior Preference shade No. 10NB.

That said, what is a reader to make of a Vuitton ad, coming in the big September books, that stars Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union? [...]

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:49 AM

      ( 2:43 AM ) The Rat  
Scobie put his hand against his forehead and shivered: the sweat seeped between his fingers, and he thought: Am I in for a touch of fever? Perhaps it was because his temperature had risen that it seemed to him he was on the verge of a new life. One felt this way before a proposal of marriage or a first crime.
The Heart of the Matter

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:43 AM

Thursday, July 26, 2007
      ( 3:49 PM ) The Rat  

Alexander the Great founded Alexandria to immortalize his name amid his quest to conquer the world—but his was apparently not the first city on the famed site on Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

A Smithsonian team has uncovered underwater evidence pointing to an urban settlement at the site dating back seven centuries before Alexander showed up in 331 B.C....

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:49 PM

      ( 3:47 PM ) The Rat  
MAN BURNS DOWN TRAILER IN ONLINE FEUD. Because nothing screams "I'm not a nerd" like committing arson over a flame war.

A Navy man who got mad when someone mocked him as a "nerd" over the Internet climbed into his car and drove 1,300 miles from Virginia to Texas to teach the other guy a lesson.

As he made his way toward Texas, Fire Controlman 2nd Class Petty Officer Russell Tavares posted photos online showing the welcome signs at several states' borders, as if to prove to his Internet friends that he meant business.

When he finally arrived, Tavares burned the guy's trailer down...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:47 PM

      ( 3:43 PM ) The Rat  

Aviation Week & Space Technology, a weekly trade journal, reported the finding from the panel on its Web site. The weekly said that the committee found that on at least two occasions, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so intoxicated that they posed a flight-safety risk...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:43 PM

      ( 1:13 PM ) The Rat  
Yet the voice was indisputable. It continued to swear with that breadth and variety that distinguishes the swearing of a cultivated man.
The Invisible Man

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:13 PM

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
      ( 11:33 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:33 AM

      ( 12:40 AM ) The Rat  
RODENT NEWS ROUNDUP: Rats and Cats Work to Sniff Out Mines, which is completely awesome, and N.M. Works on Rodent Recovery Plan.

Who says Tom and Jerry can't be friends? For the past year, a special Colombian police unit has been locking rats in cages with cats as part of a project to train the rodents to sniff out the more than 100,000 landmines planted mostly by leftist rebels across this conflict-wracked Andean country.

Bringing the rats face to face with an enemy allows them to stay more focused once they are released, veterinarian Luisa Mendez, who's been working with the animals for two years, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Col. Javier Cifuentes, who oversees the project, said the rats' success rate in mine detection is 96 percent. Unlike dogs, the rats weigh a lot less and therefore don't trigger explosions.

Colombia is home to the world's largest number of land mine victims. Last year, there were 1,108 victims, or about one every eight hours, the government says. Nearly a quarter of the victims die from their injuries...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:40 AM

      ( 12:32 AM ) The Rat  

A now-famous pair of pants was the star attraction at a fundraiser Tuesday meant to help pay the bills of a dry-cleaner couple caught in a legal stitch.

The $54 million pants, as they've come to be known, were the subject of a widely mocked lawsuit that garnered international attention. Now, they have their own security guard...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:32 AM

      ( 12:31 AM ) The Rat  

Around one in eight shoppers has bought a counterfeit watch, handbag or other product in the last year as it becomes more socially acceptable, a study by lawyers Davenport Lyons and Ledbury Research found.

Two-thirds of Britons readily admit to peers that they have bought a counterfeit product, it showed. But it also that found just under a third of the buyers of fake goods said the experience made them more likely to buy the genuine article.

Not everyone wants to be seen with counterfeits.

"It's socially unacceptable to have fake designer goods in this place... the more expensive the better, and make sure your Todd's [sic] handbag is thrust right into someone else's face when you're in the lift," said one analyst at a global bank, who declined to be named...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:31 AM

      ( 12:29 AM ) The Rat  

A pin-head sized replica of the Lloyd's of London building has been sold for £94,000 at auction.

The model, an exact scale version of the architecturally renowned steel-and-glass structure that opened in 1986, took four months to create using white gold and platinum.

The work by micro-sculptor Willard Wigan is no larger than a granule of sugar and must be viewed through a microscope...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:29 AM

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
      ( 1:06 PM ) The Rat  
'YOU CAN SEE HERE THE EFFECT AND POWER OF HAIR ON AND OFF A POLITICIAN,' via Further proof, as though any were needed, that Ratty is decidedly not above a cheap laugh.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:06 PM

      ( 9:11 AM ) The Rat  
NICE. Via Drudge, of course.

A high-rolling businessman woke up with a bar receipt for £105,805 in his wallet after he treated a group of friends to a lavish night out at one of London's most expensive nightclubs, it was claimed yesterday.

Over the course of seven hours at London's Crystal nightclub, the Middle Eastern banker is alleged to have splashed out on numerous super-sized bottles of champagne and vodka.

In total he is said to have bought an astonishing 102 bottles-worth of champagne and 11 bottles-worth of vodka.

Included in the liver-busting round was a Methuselah of champagne (equivalent in size to eight normal-sized bottles) costing £30,000 and a single super-sized bottle of vodka costing £1,400.

But at least the party didn't go too over the top: they also ordered six cans of Coca Cola and some Red Bull as a mixer...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:11 AM

      ( 8:59 AM ) The Rat  
TO MY READERS, including but not limited to the [Dutch, because cliches exist for a reason] one who just got here looking for 'latex dolls' 'second life': Get help.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:59 AM

Monday, July 23, 2007
      ( 9:15 PM ) The Rat  
INSURANCE AGENT WINS HEMINGWAY CONTEST. That is an unnerving photograph.

A white-bearded insurance agent from Florida won the Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, a highlight of the annual festival honoring the famed writer.

Larry Austin, of Palm Harbor, defeated 122 other contenders in the competition at Sloppy Joe's Bar, Hemingway's favorite watering hole when he lived here in the 1930s. [...]

"I think if he were to walk into Sloppy Joe's to see dozens of men hoping to look like him, he would be honored." said [granddaughter] Lorian Hemingway. "In fact, I think if he might even break into tears, because the connection with him here in Key West goes so deep and all the look-alikes love this man."

Other festival events included the Key West Marlin Tournament, authors' readings and an offbeat "Running of the Bulls" featuring manmade bulls.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:15 PM

      ( 2:20 PM ) The Rat  
WELCOME! to the reader who just came by here looking for ghetto fab strip clubs.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:20 PM

      ( 1:14 PM ) The Rat  
SEATS ARE STILL AVAILABLE (just went on sale this morning) for the RSC's West Coast engagements of Lear and The Seagull. The website is kind of fucked, but you should be able to get through eventually.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:14 PM

      ( 7:03 AM ) The Rat  
There is no Australian or American black legend; there is at the most a romantic, self-flattering guilt. But the black legend of Spain will persist, as will the heroic legend of Columbus. The dream of the untouched, complete world, the thing for ourselves alone, the dream of Shangri-la, is an enduring human fantasy. It fell to the Spaniards to have the unique experience. Generosity and romance, then, to the discoverer; but the Spaniards will never be forgiven. And even in the violated New World the Spaniards themselves remained subject to the fantasy. The quest for El Dorado became like a recapitulation of the whole New World adventure, a wish to have it all over again; more men and money were expended on this in twenty expeditions than on the conquest of Mexico, Peru and New Granada.

Robinson Crusoe, in its essentially myth-making middle part, is an aspect of the same fantasy. It is a monologue; it is all in the mind. It is the dream of being the first man in the world, of watching the first crop grow. Not only a dream of innocence: it is the dream of being suddenly, just as one is, in unquestionable control of the physical world, of possessing 'the first gun that had been fired there since the creation of the world.' It is the dream of total power. 'First, I made him know his name should be Friday, which was the day I saved his life. I called him so for the memory of the time. I likewise taught him to say master, and then let him know that was to be my name.' Friday is awkward about religion; Crusoe cannot answer. Power brings problems. Crusoe sees some cannibals about to kill and eat a man. He runs to liberate. But then he stops. What is his right to interfere? Is it just the gun? Some Spaniards are to be rescued. How will his freedom and power continue? How will they obey? Where do sanctions start in the empty world? They must sign a contract. But there is no pen, no paper: a difficulty as particular and irrational as in a nightmare. It is from more than a desert island that he is rescued. The issues can never be resolved.

Later Crusoe makes good, in that very New World, but in the settled, beaten-down slave society of Brazil. The horror of the discovery, of being the first totally powerful man in the world: that happened a long time before.

—V.S. Naipaul, "Columbus and Crusoe"

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:03 AM

      ( 7:02 AM ) The Rat  

What do you call a game with 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible play positions? Checkers, of course. That's according to computer scientists who have succeeded in "solving" the well-known game for every possible smart move.

They found that in a perfectly played game, checkers is a draw...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:02 AM

Sunday, July 22, 2007
      ( 2:14 PM ) The Rat  
He would lie to Almayer. What did it matter! He lied to himself every minute of his life.
An Outcast of the Islands

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:14 PM

      ( 1:17 PM ) The Rat  
BRAIN CHEMICAL COULD HELP BEAT BACK DESPAIR. I love the use of "despair" as a clinical term here.

In the study, a team led by Eric Nestler, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, exposed mice to random shocks from which the animals could not escape. Then they measured the lag time for the mice to escape subsequent shocks when they were given the chance to do so. This lag time represents the animals' level of "behavioral despair."

This experimental approach is often used to model human emotional disorders, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. Like humans with such disorders, behavioral despair in mice responds to antidepressants.

The mice with the shortest lag time (i.e., the least despair) also had higher levels of deltaFosB in a brain region involved in processing of pain signals and defense responses. The animals with longer escape times or failure to escape, however, showed lower deltaFosB levels.

The researchers also found that introducing higher levels of the gene for deltaFosB into the mice reduced the animals' level of despair...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:17 PM

      ( 1:14 PM ) The Rat  
FAMILY, MORE THAN GENES, HELPS DRIVE DIVORCE. Kind of interesting. The idea of a divorce "gene" seems pretty obviously silly (with or without this study), but some genetic component does make sense, at least inasmuch as inheritable conditions (mental illness, predisposition to depression, etc.) often seem to be factors in divorce/separation.

[S]ince the study was conducted in Australia, the results cannot be generalized to the United States, D'Onofrio said. To do that, researchers will need to replicate the results in an American sample—something his group is already working on.

The study is unique, the researcher said, because it is based on data from more than 2,300 twins, their spouses and their adult offspring. In other words, many of the younger people in the study are actually cousins who are also "genetically half-siblings," because their aunt or uncle shares their parents' genes.

So, to help separate out the effects of genetics from family environment, the Australian team compared the marital success of cousins who grew up in stable families (no divorce) against cousins who came from families split by divorce.

The study still had flaws, one expert said. One factor that D'Onofrio and his colleagues did not look at in their study was what's known as "assortative mating"—the tendency of people to marry people like themselves, noted British expert Dr. Stephen Stansfeld, a professor of psychiatry at Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry.

According to Stansfeld, this means that people who experienced a parents' divorce as children may be romantically drawn to people with similar experiences—potentially raising their own odds for an unsuccessful marriage...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:14 PM

      ( 1:12 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:12 PM

Saturday, July 21, 2007
      ( 2:22 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:22 PM

      ( 2:20 PM ) The Rat  
"You are Mike Tolliver, right?"

"Michael. Yeah. But I can't quite—"

"Oh... sorry." He thrust out his hand. "Ed Lyons. We met at Joe Dimitri's after the second Gay Games."

That was no help at all, and it must have shown.

"You know," the guy offered gamely. "The big house up on Collingwood?"

Still nothing.

"The circle jerk?"


"We went back to my place afterward."

"On Potrero Hill!"

"You remember!"

What I remembered—all I remembered after nineteen years—was his dick. I remembered how its less-than-average length was made irrelevant by its girth. It was one of the thickest I'd ever seen, with a head that flared like a caveman's club. Remembering him was a good deal harder. Nineteen years is too long a time to remember a face.

—Armistead Maupin, Michael Tolliver Lives*

*despite a few good moments, not really worth the read (thus no hyperlink)

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:20 PM

      ( 12:59 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:59 AM

Friday, July 20, 2007
      ( 2:28 AM ) The Rat  

Also from New Scientist, an extremely goofy Italian dispute over global warming and the wearing of neckties.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:28 AM

      ( 2:18 AM ) The Rat  
IF YOU'RE A TEA FANATIC (unlike Ratty, who would actually prefer coffee if it weren't for the DTs), have a look at these freaky-looking offerings from Fortnum & Mason. At that price, I certainly hope the Jasmine Tai Mu Long Zhu also cures leprosy or something.

This seems to have held the title of "world's most expensive tea" as of 2003, but a price comparison isn't really possible since Fortnum's is a retail/list price (whereas "Silver Tips" sounds like it's only available at all to people who use money for kindling).

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:18 AM

      ( 1:57 AM ) The Rat  
ARGGGHH!! It would've taken me much less than five months to notice this, if I hadn't crammed half my suitcase full of teas from their flagship at the Pl. de la Madeleine, back in October. Even the New York store offered a much better selection than they have online. The 2004 French catalog, which I have in front of me, actually offered a "pyramid" of 45 different varieties of tea (25 g per tin), "pour 475 tasses de thé"—priced at 500 euros. ...All that said, at least I won't have to miss their chocolate, which despite what you may have heard, is pretty mediocre. Finally, something the Belgians do best (click on "Brussels Collection")!

In New York, FAUCHON is taking the opportunity created by the demolition of the building where the Park Avenue store is located to open a brand new store in the near future in an improved location and based on the new contemporary design and concept successfully launched in Paris in October 2004. This relaunch of the brand has been recently reinforced with the opening this past January 2007 of a new self service bakery concept in Paris, "Fauchon Paris La Boulangerie." The whole concept: delicatessen, chocolate, grocery, gifts, self service bakery and full service café will be replicated in a near-by location in New York City. To that end, the Park Avenue store and café closed on February 25, 2007.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:57 AM

      ( 12:00 AM ) The Rat  

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Thursday, July 19, 2007
      ( 6:34 PM ) The Rat  

Also see the "Inversia" map here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:34 PM

      ( 12:16 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:16 PM

      ( 11:28 AM ) The Rat  
Another time, twice even, I decided to force myself to fall in love...
Notes from Underground

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:28 AM

      ( 10:56 AM ) The Rat  
AMERICAN AIRLINES is offering a miles discount on short-haul flights (e.g., NYC-Chicago, L.A.-San Francisco)—15,000 miles instead of 25,000.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:56 AM

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
      ( 7:40 PM ) The Rat  

For the average person, popping vitamin C pills is unlikely to ward off the common cold or shorten its length or severity. However, for people exposed to short bouts of extreme physical exercise or cold temperatures, vitamin C may markedly reduce their risk of catching a cold...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:40 PM

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
      ( 10:49 AM ) The Rat  
A REALLY-NOT-GINORMOUS-AT-ALL LIST of newly inducted words.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:49 AM

      ( 9:14 AM ) The Rat  
I had never travelled on an airplane before. I half remembered what Indar had said about airplane travel; he had said, more or less, that the airplane had helped him to adjust to his homelessness. I began to understand what he meant.

I was in Africa one day; I was in Europe the next morning. It was more than travelling fast. It was like being in two places at once. I woke up in London with little bits of Africa on me—like the airport tax ticket, given me by an official I knew, in the middle of another kind of crowd, in another kind of building, in another climate. Both places were real; both places were unreal. You could play off one against the other; and you had no feeling of having made a final decision, a great last journey.

A Bend in the River

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:14 AM

Monday, July 16, 2007
      ( 9:50 AM ) The Rat  
REAL MEN LOVE RATS. Though you might not think so if you met the guys I've dated...

This shop also offers a Have You Hugged Your Rat Today? pattern.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:50 AM

      ( 6:55 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:55 AM

      ( 6:49 AM ) The Rat  

Said Australia's John Steffensen, who finished second Sunday night: "He's definitely an inspiration for us as we are very privileged to be able-bodied, to have such healthy bodies."

Soon thereafter, Steffensen grinned and said, "Long as he doesn't run quicker than me."

Pistorius intends to learn whether he can, aiming for Beijing and, failing that, London 2012, undaunted by his Sunday night decrescendo, while saying of the Paralympics, "It does exist for people like me, but I think if I can cross the boundaries..."

Boundaries haven't fazed him much since he joined the world in Pretoria on Nov. 22, 1986. Born without fibulas, without ankles and without calf bones, he had his legs amputated at 11 months, yet played rugby as a schoolboy until an injury steered him toward running five years ago, by now using blades an Icelandic company modeled after the curvature of the legs of the cheetah.

At the Paralympics in 2004 in Athens, he won the 100, 200 and 400 meters. At the 400 tuneup in Rome, he roared from seventh to second in the final meters in a "B" race against seven Italian runners. In South Africa and elsewhere, he won the nickname "Blade Runner" and the plaudit "fastest man with no legs"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:49 AM

      ( 6:36 AM ) The Rat  

On Sunday, 124 years and countless blown leads after their debut, the Phillies became the first American sports team to lose 10,000 regular-season games. After staring at 9,999 for more than a week—they won their last game before the All-Star break and first two afterward—they pushed the odometer to a nice, round five digits with a 10-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Ballpark...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:36 AM

Sunday, July 15, 2007
      ( 10:24 PM ) The Rat  
HEART YOUR RAT TODAY! (Their llama page is pretty funky too.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:24 PM

      ( 10:23 PM ) The Rat  
LONG WEEKENDS SUB FOR LONG VACATIONS. So, so lame. (Article is from several weeks back.)

The two-week vacation is fast disappearing. Instead, employees are using their vacation days to extend weekends and take shorter breaks from the office.

The shift is being blamed partly on rising gas prices as well as mounting pressure for workers to be available to clients around the clock. And more dual-income couples are finding it difficult to coordinate vacation schedules due to work demands.

Only 14% of Americans plan to take a two-week vacation in 2007, down from 16% in 2006, according to a new study by Harris Interactive for, an online travel site. One-third of workers do not always use all their vacation days...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:23 PM

      ( 10:19 PM ) The Rat  
If it was Europe that gave us on the coast some idea of our history, it was Europe, I feel, that also introduced us to the lie. Those of us who had been in that part of Africa before the Europeans had never lied about ourselves. Not because we were more moral. We didn't lie because we never assessed ourselves and didn't think there was anything for us to lie about; we were people who simply did what we did. But the Europeans could do one thing and say something quite different; and they could act in this way because they had an idea of what they owed to their civilization. It was their great advantage over us. The Europeans wanted gold and slaves, like everybody else; but at the same time they wanted statues put up to themselves as people who had done good things for the slaves. Being an intelligent and energetic people, and at the peak of their powers, they could express both sides of their civilization; and they got both the slaves and the statues.
A Bend in the River

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:19 PM

Saturday, July 14, 2007
      ( 2:56 PM ) The Rat  
Small things can start us off in new ways of thinking, and I was started off by the postage stamps of our area. The British administration gave us beautiful stamps. These stamps depicted local scenes and local things; there was one called 'Arab Dhow.' It was as though, in those stamps, a foreigner had said, 'This is what is most striking about this place.' Without that stamp of the dhow I might have taken the dhows for granted. As it was, I learned to look at them. Whenever I saw them tied up at the waterfront I thought of them as something peculiar to our region, quaint, something the foreigner would remark on, something not quite modern, and certainly nothing like the liners and cargo ships that berthed in our own modern docks.
A Bend in the River

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:56 PM

      ( 2:48 PM ) The Rat  
MICH. MAN JOGGED NUDE TO 'FEEL ALIVE.' My favorite part of this article:

[Rotta] wore reflective tape around his arms, ankles, waist and thighs to avoid being hit when he crossed roads, the police report said.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:48 PM

      ( 11:21 AM ) The Rat  

A Pamplona government spokeswoman dismissed the cow-run idea.

"At the moment women can run with the bulls. What really would be discriminatory would be a women-only run with cows," said Teresa Moreno.

Since records began in 1924, 13 people have been killed in the runs. The last person killed was a 22-year-old American who was gored in 1995.

"A cow-run would fill a fundamental void: what do we women do at 8 in the morning when the boys are risking their lives?" the manifesto asked. "A little exercise after so much alcohol and food would do us no harm."

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:21 AM

      ( 9:21 AM ) The Rat  
Gilbert. What are the unreal things, but the passions that once burned one like fire? What are the incredible things, but the things that one has faithfully believed? What are the improbable things? The things that one has done oneself. No, Ernest; life cheats us with shadows, like a puppet-master. We ask it for pleasure. It gives it to us, with bitterness and disappointment in its train. We come across some noble grief that we think will lend the purple dignity of tragedy to our days, but it passes away from us, and things less noble take its place, and on some grey windy dawn, or odorous eve of silence and of silver, we find ourselves looking with callous wonder, or dull heart of stone, at the trees of gold-flocked hair that we had once so wildly worshipped and so madly kissed.

Ernest. Life then is a failure?

Gilbert. From the artistic point of view, certainly.

—Wilde, "The Critic as Artist"

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:21 AM

Friday, July 13, 2007
      ( 4:24 PM ) The Rat  
RATTY FOUND this old Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover (View of the World from 9th Avenue) on a postcard at the Morgan Library shop in May, but didn't think to look for it online till just now.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:24 PM

      ( 12:12 PM ) The Rat  
He was on his feet. He was speaking urgently. By every rule of self-esteem, he had to prove to her, and to himself, that it was her fault.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:12 PM

      ( 12:45 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:45 AM

      ( 12:28 AM ) The Rat  
I HAD TO LAUGH on finding that Drudge had linked to this under the heading "126 People Ill After 'Taste of Chicago.'" It's some 12 years now since I got out and the place still makes me sick too.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:28 AM

Thursday, July 12, 2007
      ( 8:09 PM ) The Rat  
PLAYING DOCTOR, also from Slate. This is pretty funny.

My group was undergoing the physicals, while a group of older SPs were pretending to have hurt themselves in a fall. Almost all my fellow patients were professional actors who supplement their income by appearing in a repertory circuit at the medical schools of Georgetown, George Washington, and the military's Uniformed Services University. I envied that some really got to exercise their acting chops. One told me she recently portrayed a depressed alcoholic with irritable bowel syndrome who wasn't even supposed to know she was depressed and alcoholic—the medical student was supposed to figure that out.

An older SP had recently been at George Washington, where she had to portray a sex-crazed senior citizen. Her story was that she had been frustrated during her entire marriage because she wanted sex daily, but her husband would only satisfy her weekly or monthly. When he died, she moved to assisted living, where she cut a swath through the remaining men and ended up with a sexually transmitted disease. She says of the students required to take her history, "They were freaking out with embarrassment."

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:09 PM

      ( 2:16 PM ) The Rat  

Slate. Sasha, you really questioned the idea of fixed sushi tradition—of sushi's arcadian past. Sushi has always had outside influences—even traditional nigiri sushi was influenced heavily by American taste during the occupation.

Issenberg. Yes, I think there's this myth—not only with sushi but with most food—that there's this path that existed before commerce and global influence. To some degree, the slow-food movement embraces this idea that we can return to a pure moment in our food past. But if you look at the story of sushi, it never existed without commerce. It started with fast food and the big commercial industrial city, Tokyo, in the mid-19th century. It grew as Tokyo became the capital of one of the world's dominant economic powers. Tuna was worthless to the Japanese—especially the fatty cuts that are now the most prized—until the postwar period...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:16 PM

      ( 1:50 PM ) The Rat  
WHITE PEACOCK. Another odd peacock photo here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:50 PM

Wednesday, July 11, 2007
      ( 9:50 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:50 PM

      ( 7:25 PM ) The Rat  
THE WORLD TOUR of Lear + The Seagull, with Ian McKellen in the role of Lear, will be in the States from Sept. 6. Looks like the NYC production is already sold out (grr!!), but they're also touching down in Minneapolis (Oct. 5-14) and Los Angeles (Oct. 19-28) before returning to the U.K. (Ratty hopes to score seats for the L.A. run.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:25 PM

      ( 1:10 AM ) The Rat  
Also he had always had a great tolerance which seemed the nicest thing about him if it were not the most sinister.
"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:10 AM

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
      ( 6:59 PM ) The Rat  
A FEW PEOPLE have already gotten here Googling "Proust's birthday," which—for those of you not dorky enough to have it inked into your appointment book as though you were going to send him a card—is today. I trust my readers have all been doing something appropriate to the occasion, such as eating madeleines, being kissed by their mothers, or going to brothels. If not, hurry—you've only got five hours left!

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 PM

Monday, July 09, 2007
      ( 10:50 PM ) The Rat  

satanic rat
chinese food with cut rat in it
the worlds most orally obsessed woman naked
rat and roach calculator
prewritten dirty, explicit letters
fish tails knickers

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:50 PM

      ( 10:41 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:41 PM

      ( 10:05 PM ) The Rat  
Clashes were frequent. The boarders also brought quarrels from Shorthills and settled them in Port of Spain. And all evening, above the buzzing, there were sounds of flogging (Basdai had flogging powers over her boarders as well), and Basdai cried, 'Read! Learn! Learn! Read!'
A House for Mr Biswas

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:05 PM

Sunday, July 08, 2007
      ( 12:15 AM ) The Rat  
GIANT HAIRY HUH? Some fun moments in this.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:15 AM

Friday, July 06, 2007
      ( 8:07 AM ) The Rat  

After more than five years of increasingly intense warfare, the conflict in Afghanistan reached a grim milestone in the first half of this year: U.S. troops and their NATO allies killed more civilians than insurgents did, according to several independent tallies...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:07 AM

      ( 8:01 AM ) The Rat  
CAT SURVIVES 3 WEEKS CROSSING OCEAN. I find "It's always a good day when the cat's alive" an oddly catchy expression...

The voyage began after Pamela Escamilla lost sight of her 3-year-old calico, Spice, while packing a huge container with household goods in Waikoloa Village, Hawaii.

The container was shipped June 15 to Southern California. Escamilla, 39, and her husband couldn't find the cat before taking their flight and asked neighbors in Hawaii to call if Spice returned.

While the Escamillas feared the worst, Spice spent 18 days in the pitch-black container without food or water as it crossed the Pacific before arriving at the San Bernardino home of Escamilla's parents on Tuesday...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:01 AM

      ( 7:58 AM ) The Rat  

Shira Barlow had her new cellphone number for only two days when the flood of calls began.

Birthday wishes, inquiries about locations for "in" parties, requests to get on guest lists at the hottest Los Angeles nightclubs.

Most of the calls were placed between 2 and 4 a.m. on weekends. Some were annoying. Many involved slurred words.

When the callers were told they had reached a UCLA college student, they refused to believe it.

"Baby girl, how are you?" a man purred in a foreign accent.

"Why are you doing this?" one woman asked. "This is so rude."

Little did Barlow—or her callers—know that she had inherited the phone number of one of the nation's most ubiquitous and sought-after young celebrities: Paris Hilton...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:58 AM

Thursday, July 05, 2007
      ( 3:58 PM ) The Rat  

It turns out that women and men talk about the same amount—about 16,000 words per day, or 11 words per minute, researchers reported today in the journal Science.

"This was one of these urban myths," said senior author James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. "No one knows where this belief even came from, but it's been reported for years."

Upon reading that women are thought to speak 20,000 words a day, and men a mere 7,000, Pennebaker and his colleagues set out to discover the truth.

It was a perfect job for the EAR—short for electronically activated recorder—that Pennebaker developed to unobtrusively record snippets of conversation during someone's daily routine. The cellphone-sized device turns itself on every 12 minutes and records whatever it hears for 30 seconds...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:58 PM

      ( 3:26 PM ) The Rat  
EXPLAIN: 'COUTURE,' via Fashionista.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:26 PM

      ( 1:00 PM ) The Rat  
"FOR SOME REASON, MODERNIST DESIGNERS WERE FASCINATED BY TEAPOTS." Slide show on the Corcoran's new Modernism exhibit.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:00 PM

      ( 12:01 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:01 PM

      ( 11:59 AM ) The Rat  

At 4 p.m. on June 8, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a terse statement announcing that he and his wife, Corina, were separating after 20 years of marriage. Two hours later, Telemundo television anchor Mirthala Salinas delivered the story to her Spanish-language viewers on the Friday evening news.

"The rumors were true," she declared of the split after an introduction that described the story as a "political scandal" that had left "many people with their mouth open."

What Salinas, 35, did not say in the newscast was that she was the other woman...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:59 AM

      ( 9:31 AM ) The Rat  
The last thing a woman will consent to discover in a man whom she loves, or on whom she simply depends, is want of courage.

(I don't have a source for this quote, but it does explain a couple of regrettable past episodes...)

Edited to add: TT has confirmed that the line is Conrad (from Victory).

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:31 AM

Wednesday, July 04, 2007
      ( 11:39 AM ) The Rat  
OZZY OSBOURNE TO HELP TAIWAN IN U.N. MEMBERSHIP QUEST. This one has a little bit of everything...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:39 AM

Tuesday, July 03, 2007
      ( 6:51 PM ) The Rat  
A BEACH OF HER OWN, via Drudge.

[I]t happens all the time. Boy meets girl and boy annoys girl. So, the Italians have enacted an interesting solution to this problem. They have created a beach strictly for women. No men, children or loud disco music are allowed.

Known as "Pink Beach," the area opened a week ago and is complete with exercise classes, water aerobics and makeup and manicure tips. It greets men with a pink sign that reads: "No Men."

But for some men the idea is a little farfetched. One man said the concept might be good for women, but it would fall flat with men.

The beach does have one man.

"The lifeguard must be a man," Ravaglio said in a foreign newspaper interview. "You clearly need a man to save women in the sea. It's a question of muscles."

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:51 PM

Monday, July 02, 2007
      ( 7:37 PM ) The Rat  

If the assaults had succeeded in either British city—the cars in London were packed with petrol, gas canisters and nails—the bombs could have killed many people. Yet the apparent incompetence of the attackers is striking: although some of them seemed ready to kill themselves in the assaults, they in effect bungled both the London and the Glasgow attempts.

That failure raises questions about al-Qaeda, if those attacks were indeed planned by individuals associated with the Islamist terror network. It suggests that there is variable ability among al-Qaeda's operatives, some of whom are highly professional, but others who are fanatical yet amateurish. If it is indeed the case that the attackers in Britain were not "home-grown terrorists"—the four successful killers in the July 2005 bombings were all British; of the five unsuccessful attackers later that month, none had been born in Britain—that raises questions about how al-Qaeda recruits members for its attacks.

But there is a more alarming possibility, too. For some time Britain's intelligence services have been giving warning that they risk being swamped by the sheer number of potential terror attacks. Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, MI5's departed head, said in November that her service was tracking more than 1,600 known active militants (up from 250 in 2001, according to a parliamentary report). Those extremists operated in a pool of perhaps 100,000 sympathisers who, according to one poll she cited, thought the 2005 London bombings were justified.

Attempted bombings like these recent ones may not be carried out by the most effective al-Qaeda operatives, but even failed strikes take up a huge quantity of time from intelligence officers and police, potentially distracting them from other planned attacks...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:37 PM

      ( 4:18 PM ) The Rat  

And, haven't we all had days like this?

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:18 PM

      ( 9:39 AM ) The Rat  
GIVEN HOW SATISFYING IT IS to shred mere paper, just imagine how much fun this must be!

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:39 AM

Sunday, July 01, 2007
      ( 11:01 PM ) The Rat  
THE PIED PIPER: WHO WAS HE? Yikes. And while we're on the theme, here's cummings's "in Just—"

This bit of Marshall's column did make me giggle:

The story has been translated into about 30 languages and is retold throughout the world, often with twists that reflect national moods and outlooks. Walt Disney's 1933 cartoon short gives it a happy ending by having the children led off to a land of eternal youth.

Russian and East European versions invariably end in tragedy, with the children dying or becoming eternally lost...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:01 PM

      ( 12:35 PM ) The Rat  
WIMBLEDON SEES RED OVER UNDERWEAR. I guess this is one way to cash in on the benefits of wearing red while still conforming to the tennis-whites rule...

Wimbledon is getting its knickers in a twist. Tatiana Golovin had the Wimbledon referee reaching for his rule book when she sought to appear on court wearing red underwear.

Was she violating the "predominantly white" dress code laid down by the tournament that is such a stickler for sartorial etiquette?

The fashion guardians of good taste at the world's most genteel tennis tournament gave the French player the go-ahead after much discussion about hemlines and where they stopped and started...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:35 PM

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

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