The Rat
Monday, December 31, 2007
      ( 12:01 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:01 AM

Friday, December 28, 2007
      ( 2:33 PM ) The Rat  
A BIG LIST OF FOODS THAT YOU CAN BRING THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY. I really will try to stop pulling everything off Consumerist...

An unwrapped cheeseburger with fries and a big container of ketchup would not be allowed past security because a) The food is not wrapped. b) Ketchup is a gel.

A wrapped turkey sandwich with a small bag of potato chips would pass security because a) the food is wrapped b) there are no gels in large quantities.

Pies and cakes are allowed, but are subject "additional screening." This might be TSA code for "we will harass you, then eat your delicious pie."

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:33 PM

      ( 2:21 PM ) The Rat  

And from Jezebel, Models With Ennui Playing Invisible Croquet.

But what initially caught our eye [in the January Vogue] was a strange, six-page, front-of-book ad campaign for Valentino, shot by Inez & Vinoodh and featuring models (including Shalom Harlow?) styled to look like a cross between a Hitchcock movie, Cousin It and the twins from Kubrick's The Shining (albeit all grown-up and clad in couture). After the jump, we supply the captions—completely and arbitrarily lifted straight from the dark mind of Edward Gorey—Valentino ad execs should have included...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:21 PM

Thursday, December 27, 2007
      ( 11:11 PM ) The Rat  
IS ANYTHING NEAR YOU HOLDING STILL? Why not eBay it? Until 12 AM Pacific Time tonight, listing fees are just 10 cents! (I realize I should have posted this earlier, but I've been, uh, listing stuff.)

And, of course, the relevant Onion blurb.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:11 PM

      ( 5:40 PM ) The Rat  
EASTER CREEP, via Consumerist.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:40 PM

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
      ( 1:46 PM ) The Rat  
DONATIONS made to the American Refugee Committee will be doubled through December 31.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:46 PM

      ( 1:50 AM ) The Rat  
WOOT! Words of the year, 2007 edition.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:50 AM

      ( 1:22 AM ) The Rat  
RUSSIANS. Need I say more?

These are photos of one Russian online community members of which enjoy making some staged photos with creepy plots. Here we have some of their recent topics, like:

"A Cheating Wife: You need to make a photo of a man, 'a lover,' hanging outside the real window. The window should be not lower than a 3rd store of a multi-stored building. 'A husband' should lean out from another window with a gun, aiming at 'the lover.' From yet another window 'the cheating wife' should look out in despair."

"The Waiter: A man dressed like a water should crawl out of a refuse chute in some multi-storied building, right from the disposal opening. He should hold a tray with some servings and a towel in another hand"

"The Pickles: Make a photo of many jars of pickles. Some of them should have pickled cell-phones. Not less than five cell phones in each jar please" [...]

Now see what they got shot after they got those tasks. The members of this community live in different Russian cities, they make the photos in their own neighborhoods, right in the middle of the day while sudden passers-by watching them doing this stuff...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:22 AM

Monday, December 24, 2007
      ( 2:10 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:10 PM

      ( 2:08 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:08 PM

      ( 2:07 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:07 PM

      ( 1:59 PM ) The Rat  

"Three days in any store is a little crazy, but in a Wal-Mart... yeah," said a shopper.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:59 PM

Sunday, December 23, 2007
      ( 2:33 PM ) The Rat  

I recently received a coupon to get any drink I wanted at Starbucks. They do this if something goes awry with a previous experience as a nice gesture.

I decided to use the coupon for an experiment: What is the most expensive drink I can order?

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:33 PM

      ( 2:18 PM ) The Rat  
IT'S NEARLY THE YEAR OF THE RAT, and of course they've made us damn near invisible on the accompanying postage stamp. Feh.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:18 PM

Saturday, December 22, 2007
      ( 11:09 AM ) The Rat  

Also don't miss the Giant Squid Holiday Card!

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:09 AM

Friday, December 21, 2007
      ( 5:09 PM ) The Rat  
TWO EXCELLENT RECENT ENTRIES at Strange Maps: Korea's Dark Half, and Marzipan Europe.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:09 PM

      ( 4:31 PM ) The Rat  

Given that transport accounts for between one-quarter and one-third of the emissions of most developed countries, a 12% improvement in fuel efficiency sounds impressive. But economists know better.

Because fuel costs are a significant part of the total price of running a car, lowering them means cheaper motoring. And cheaper motoring, all other things being equal, means more motoring. The same applies to flying, home insulation or industrial processes: any reduction in energy use means a reduction in cost which, in turn, leads to an increase in demand, eating into the savings from more frugal engineering. In energy economics this is known as the "rebound effect." It was first described in 1865 by William Stanley Jevons, an economist investigating steam engines.

Since then, says Steve Sorrel, an economist who produced a report about the rebound effect for Britain's Energy Research Centre, there has been little research into just how big the rebound effect is. Estimates of the "direct" effect range from almost zero to over 100% (ie, greater efficiency encourages so much more consumption that net energy use actually goes up).

The precise size of the effect depends on both the good in question and the wealth of those consuming it. "The potential for a big rebound is higher when you're looking at low-income groups," says Mr Sorrel. "Lots of poor people can't afford to make their homes as warm as they'd like. So they'll take any efficiency improvement in the form of more heating, whereas the rich—who are already comfortable—will probably spend the savings on something else."

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:31 PM

      ( 3:04 AM ) The Rat  
AIRPORT DELAY RANKINGS (from fewest to most, for 32 airports), via Wired.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:04 AM

Thursday, December 20, 2007
      ( 2:42 PM ) The Rat  
TRUFFLES AND CHAMPAGNE AN ECO-FRIENDLY MEAL. In case the £20,000 hamper is seeming a bit much...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:42 PM

      ( 2:30 PM ) The Rat  
INTERESTING (though not really surprising).

The results turned out to be quite odd. Vermont has one of the most homogenous populations in the country—overwhelmingly white (especially in 1967), with relatively similar levels of poverty and education statewide. Yet medical practice across the state varied enormously, for all kinds of care. In Middlebury, for instance, only 7 percent of children had their tonsils removed. In Morrisville, 70 percent did.

Dr. Wennberg and some colleagues then did a survey, interviewing 4,000 people around the state, to see whether different patterns of illness could explain the variations in medical care. They couldn't. The children of Morrisville weren't suffering from an epidemic of tonsillitis. Instead, they happened to live in a place where a small group of doctors—just five of them—had decided to be aggressive about removing tonsils.

But here was the stunner: Vermonters who lived in towns with more aggressive care weren't healthier. They were just getting more health care...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:30 PM

      ( 12:41 AM ) The Rat  
HEE! (requires sound).

And also, this.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:41 AM

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
      ( 5:11 PM ) The Rat  
THE SUM OF A CAR'S PARTS. Nifty photo. (From here.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:11 PM

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
      ( 12:25 AM ) The Rat  

The contrast with the wordcraft of Mr Sarkozy is instructive. In his first big foreign-policy speech, he managed in 18 pages to utter neither the word glory nor the word grandeur. Unlike his British counterparts, who favour verbless sentences, Mr Sarkozy is a verbaholic. According to a linguistic analysis of his campaign speeches by Damon Mayaffre, of the University of Nice, one of Mr Sarkozy's most frequent words is I, usually followed by the verb want.

What does this say about France? One answer is that the country has a hyperactive president, constantly on the go, who expects the French to be so too. "Work more to earn more" was his slogan, and his use of verbs matches the message. This is a man who likes to jog, where previous presidents preferred a dignified stroll. Indeed, his predilection prompted Libération, a left-leaning newspaper, to ask, "Is jogging right-wing?" It even moved a philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut, to implore the president to take up the promenade—a "spiritual experience"—and to give up jogging, which is mere "body management"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:25 AM

Monday, December 17, 2007
      ( 7:18 PM ) The Rat  

"The giant rat is about five times the size of a typical city rat," said Kristofer Helgen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:18 PM

      ( 1:12 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:12 AM

Saturday, December 15, 2007
      ( 2:47 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 AM

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
      ( 4:18 PM ) The Rat  
WHY PREGNANT WOMEN DON'T TOPPLE. Don't miss the ending.

This elegant engineering is seen only in female humans and our immediate ancestors who walked on two feet, but not in chimps and apes, according to a study published in Thursday's journal Nature.

"That's a big load that's pulling you forward," said Liza Shapiro, an anthropology professor at the University of Texas and the only one of the study's three authors who has actually been pregnant. "You experience discomfort. Maybe it would be a lot worse if (the design changes) were not there."

Harvard anthropology researcher Katherine Whitcomb found two physical differences in male and female backs that until now had gone unnoticed: One lower lumbar vertebra is wedged-shaped in women and more square in men; and a key hip joint is 14 percent larger in women than men when body size is taken into account.

The researchers did engineering tests that show how those slight changes allow women to carry the additional and growing load without toppling over...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:18 PM

      ( 6:51 AM ) The Rat  
[W]e have long been accustomed to smooth, mute creatures fashioned for the purpose of curing us of the sickness of having a body; these guardian spirits have watched over the games of our childhood and bear witness in our gardens to the notion that the world is without risks, that nothing ever happens to anyone and, consequently, that the only thing that ever happened to them was death at birth.... Against this, something obviously has happened to Giacometti's statues.
—Sartre, "The Quest for the Absolute," quoted in this

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:51 AM

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
      ( 8:09 PM ) The Rat  

A hotel chain Tuesday said it was offering couples called Joseph and Mary in Britain, Ireland and Spain free accommodation this Christmas on proof of marriage and name.

Hotel chain Travelodge said husbands and wives matching their criteria would get a night's stay on the house, but with more home comforts than the humble stable of the Christian Nativity story.

The offer, appropriately, runs between Christmas Eve (December 24) to Twelfth Night (January 5, 2008)...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:09 PM

Monday, December 10, 2007
      ( 7:34 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:34 PM

Saturday, December 08, 2007
      ( 3:35 PM ) The Rat  

"what's with you and yale" "always yale" (from a reader in Cambridge, Mass.)
dead rat window france
milking parlor swollen breasts
rats used for womens coats in new jersey in the 19th century
wienerschnitzel rats
find a misyar urfi girl
how to help a choking rat

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:35 PM

Friday, December 07, 2007
      ( 2:39 PM ) The Rat  

Like UV rays and diesel exhaust fumes, working the graveyard shift will soon be listed as a "probable" cause of cancer. It is a surprising step validating a concept once considered wacky. And it is based on research that finds higher rates of breast and prostate cancer among women and men whose work day starts after dark...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:39 PM

      ( 2:30 PM ) The Rat  
'DIAMONDS: THE LOVE SPLENDA.' From the comments thread on this.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:30 PM

Wednesday, December 05, 2007
      ( 10:45 PM ) The Rat  
She stiffened a little; so she would stand at the top of her stairs.
Mrs. Dalloway (link is from here)

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:45 PM

      ( 8:52 PM ) The Rat  

Over 18.000 votes have been cast in a poll to determine once and for all the answer to the burning question: Combien de bises?...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:52 PM

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
      ( 10:40 PM ) The Rat  
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL'S new campaign to promote awareness concerning female genital mutilation. (I disagree with Copyranter btw—these ads seem to me far more powerful than words would have been.)

Copyranter also links to some excellent anti-China ads Amnesty has done recently: "The True Spirit of the Olympics" + the "China Is Getting Ready" series (e.g., here and here ...and here's one more I found off another site).

Not sure if these have only run overseas, but if I can find a copy of this one I'm putting it up in my apartment.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:40 PM

      ( 12:30 AM ) The Rat  
HEE! And people say I'm meta...

Italian police burst into the room of a suspected Mafia mobster in Sicily and arrested him as he watched a television show about the arrest of a Mafia boss, investigators said Friday...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:30 AM

Sunday, December 02, 2007
      ( 10:45 PM ) The Rat  
OED WORDHUNT APPEAL LIST. In case you have verifiable evidence of the use of (among others):

—"bonkers" before 1957
—"one sandwich short of a picnic" before 1993
—"shaggy dog story" before 1946
—"regime change" before 1990
—"kinky" before 1959 (your joke here)
—"marital aid" before 1976
—"pole dance" before 1992
—"Bloody Mary" before 1956

Ratty has come up with only one instance of a current Wordhunt word or expression that can be verified to have predated the current OED listing (and, alas, it's only by a couple of months).*

*Edited to add: I take that back—actually, so long as you have access to LexisNexis, you can find well over 200 uses of "regime change" prior to 1990... though I can't beat the 1965 listing someone has already contributed. Going to stop looking at these, though—I already have plenty of absurd/compulsive hobbies as it is.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:45 PM

      ( 10:15 PM ) The Rat  
LOLVOGUE. It was bound to happen eventually.

A few more here and here (I nearly fell out of my chair laughing at the top one, though it'd be much funnier without the last line) some bonus (semi-)French LOLs here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:15 PM

      ( 4:31 PM ) The Rat  
RATTY HAS DISCOVERED a fabulous tea (and coffee) shop she'll be returning to regularly. Sooooo much better than those prissy/artsy new places. The prices are reasonable, the packaging is simple and non-wasteful, and the teas I bought that I've tried so far have been fresh, and quite tasty. (Didn't buy any coffee—only have an espresso machine, and I'm too clueless to use anything in it but pods.) And, best of all, the salespeople don't nag if you just want to go around sniffing for a bit before committing to a purchase (a luxury I had previously enjoyed only in Paris). They also give helpful, non-bullshit answers to any questions you may have about their products.

Super-nice people; I'd be in all the time if I still lived in the city. As it is, I'll be going back whenever I can. There's a virtual tour here; full catalog downloadable via a link at the bottom of this very short sample list of their offerings.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:31 PM

      ( 3:30 AM ) The Rat  
HELICOPTER PARENTING. Via IKM. The last bit below reminds me of something ER observed to me some years back, about how women dissatisfied with their husbands seem to be disproportionately likelier to spoil their sons...

Parents, [Wiseman] says, routinely blow a gasket when they get it in their heads that they need to seek revenge on their child's behalf. "It's, 'I've been wronged. My kid has been wronged, so I've been wronged; therefore I have to do whatever's necessary, including being disgustingly immoral.'"

"Morally speaking, they shouldn't have done that," a 22-year-old writing on Yahoo! Answers this week observed about the Drew case. "But I don't think they should be held responsible b/c kids are mean to each other every day. It would not be any different than an actual 13 yr old boy being mean to another girl."

That, of course, is the whole point.

Parents of teenagers are not supposed to act like teenagers. They're not supposed to dress like teenagers or talk like teenagers or spend their days text-messaging teenagers—as one mom Wiseman encountered did, exchanging expressions of shock and dismay, after her 14-year-old daughter broke up with a popular and athletic boy. ("I was totally basking in the social status I was getting from the boy," the very honest mother told Wiseman.)

Or, at least, parents weren't supposed to act like this in the past.

"There used to be this kind of parent-child gradient, where the parent was expected to—and did—function at a different level than the child," says clinical psychologist Madeline Levine, author of the 2006 book "The Price of Privilege," who lectures frequently on child and adolescent issues. Now, she says, "that whole notion of parents being in an entirely different space than their children is disappearing."

In part, Levine blames parenting experts for this turn of events. She blames the self-esteem movement, decades of parenting advice that prized "communication" over limit-setting and safety. She blames the narcissistic needs of parents who want their children to like them at all costs. And in part, when thinking over the fused mother-daughter dyads she so often encounters in therapy, she indicts this generation of mothers' loneliness, dissatisfaction in work and marriage, stress, sense of failure, and emotional isolation. In the end, she asks, when you're feeling alone and blue, "Who are you sure is going to hang around with you? It's your children."

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:30 AM

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

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