Monday, June 30, 2008
( 9:08 AM ) The Rat
TODAY is the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska Event. Uh... celebrate accordingly?
"At first, the locals were reluctant to tell Kulik about the event," said Yeomans. "They believed the blast was a visitation by the god Ogdy, who had cursed the area by smashing trees and killing animals."
While testimonials may have at first been difficult to obtain, there was plenty of evidence lying around. Eight hundred square miles of remote forest had been ripped asunder. Eighty million trees were on their sides, lying in a radial pattern.
The resulting seismic shockwave registered with sensitive barometers as far away as England. Dense clouds formed over the region at high altitudes which reflected sunlight from beyond the horizon. Night skies glowed, and reports came in that people who lived as far away as Asia could read newspapers outdoors as late as midnight.
"A century later some still debate the cause and come up with different scenarios that could have caused the explosion," said Yeomans. "But the generally agreed upon theory is that on the morning of June 30, 1908, a large space rock, about 120 feet across, entered the atmosphere of Siberia and then detonated in the sky."
It is estimated the asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere traveling at a speed of about 33,500 miles per hour. During its quick plunge, the 220-million-pound space rock heated the air surrounding it to 44,500 degrees Fahrenheit. At 7:17 a.m. (local Siberia time), at a height of about 28,000 feet, the combination of pressure and heat caused the asteroid to fragment and annihilate itself, producing a fireball and releasing energy equivalent to about 185 Hiroshima bombs...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:08 AM
( 4:28 AM ) The Rat
HEH. He's right, by the way—you should absolutely read Chuck Amuck.
As a young viewer, I had no doubts about the superiority of this gang to the characters of Disney. Disney cartoons were tame, conventional, Apollonian. Warner Bros.' were manic, unnerving, iconoclastic, spastic, Dionysian. The most telling difference was that the Disney characters had romantic partners, spouses, even families of a kind. There was something treacly about the scenes where Mickey and Minnie's smooches were accompanied by all those little red hearts floating in the air. Donald had his Daisy and somehow three nephews even though their parent, the duck's brother or sister, was never mentioned. The Disney characters were socialized, domesticated, bourgeois. Warner Bros. characters, with the exception of hen-pecked Porky and his Petunia, were mavericks—unregenerate, anti-social. There is no Mrs. Fudd. And a Mrs. Daffy Duck? Inconceivable. Sex in the Warner toons was more likely to be transgressive and connected to deception, especially cross-dressing. Bugs is quick to put on a frock and kiss Elmer on the mouth but only for the purpose of fooling his perennial victim. Disney-romance led to marriage. Warner Brothers-romance was linked to guile and aimed at redress...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:28 AM
Sunday, June 29, 2008
( 8:10 AM ) The Rat
"The original title of Licence to Kill was Licence Revoked... but MGM told us that no one in America would understand what 'revoked' meant."
—John Glen, Inside Licence to Kill
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:10 AM
( 7:57 AM ) The Rat
TEXT OF ONE OF THIS WEEK'S POSTSECRET CARDS: I'm writing this from my trip to Paris. I want everyone to know that I now feel completely and overwhelmingly happy. For the first time in my life, I no longer want to be lost. I am found.
I can't be the only one who read this and thought, Well no shit, you're in PARIS!! Even KD agrees with me that that city is an antidepressant.
Btw Ratty will be departing soon for Summer o' Decadence 2008 (Lincoln-London-Paris-Berlin-Istanbul—not that I'm gloating); posting may be even slower than usual through mid-September.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:57 AM
Friday, June 27, 2008
( 9:18 AM ) The Rat
DOGS AND CATS FEEL THE FORECLOSURE CRISIS. This and the previous link are both from Consumerist.
As the foreclosure crisis continues, pets are losing their homes and their families as cash-strapped humans can no longer afford to care for their dogs and cats...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:18 AM
( 9:17 AM ) The Rat
HOME DEPOT OFFERS RECYCLING FOR COMPACT FLUORESCENT BULBS. Yay!
[I]mproper disposal of the bulbs creates a hazard, because they contain small amounts of mercury...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:17 AM
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
( 8:31 PM ) The Rat
INSOMNIAC? Maybe watching this will help... (Does not really require sound.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:31 PM
( 1:19 PM ) The Rat
'Well, the top man in the country's Professor Peach. I've seen him on television.'
'Tell Croker to get him.'
'But how? Maybe the Professor's not bent.'
'Camp Freddie, everybody in the world is bent!'
—The Italian Job
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:19 PM
Monday, June 23, 2008
( 9:53 PM ) The Rat
RATTY HAS BEEN SAYING THIS FOR YEARS!
A couple of years ago, I happened to be giving a talk to the graduating seniors at a Catholic girls' school. During the question period, one young woman asked, "If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose?" Given that I write about books for a (hardscrabble) living, I could see that she expected me to name some obvious literary heavyweight, such as Odysseus, Prince Genji, or Huckleberry Finn—all of whom flashed through my mind as good answers. Instead I paused for a moment, put on my most sardonic look, and huskily whispered into the microphone, "Bond, James Bond." It brought down the house.
Of course, people thought I was kidding. And, of course, I wasn't.
What, after all, is a man's deepest wish? Freud talked about "honor, power, riches, fame, and the love of women"—and Bond certainly encompasses all those. Still, that libidinal litany can be boiled down to a single desire, half hidden in the shadowy reaches of the male psyche and more clearly delineated in world mythology: As Joseph Campbell would say, men long to be heroes. No doubt about it. And yet I think the masculine ego also hungers for something a bit more noirish, if you will. At least some of the time, guys want to be thought of as… dangerous. While it's gratifying to be called a hard-working professional or a good provider, those admirable traits don't make our hearts beat quicker. By contrast, to overhear oneself described as "a man not to be trifled with"—that's quite another matter.
Our institutions, as Foucault used to remind us, are designed to instill order and discipline, to create team players and salarymen, to compel our unruly hearts to abide by timetables and deadlines. But what man dreams of being safe and respectable, or, God forbid, prudent? No wonder women fall for outlaws. Surely the most distinctive if subtle thrill in all of James Bond occurs near the opening of the film of Live and Let Die. As the secret agent boards a plane bound for New York, we see the clairvoyant Solitaire methodically turning over one tarot card after another. As she places each down on the table, she speaks a single emotionless phrase. "A man comes… he travels quickly… he comes over water… he will oppose." And then, after the briefest of pauses: "He brings violence and destruction."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:53 PM
( 5:28 PM ) The Rat
THE STRANGE CASE OF THE MISSING MICROFIBER. Via Consumerist.
For the most part, though, disbelief has stunted microfiber's proliferation. The claims of chemical-free cleaning are too vast to trust and too complex to understand for the average consumer, and the products are too expensive to risk taking the chance. Because the term "microfiber" is not regulated, great products share the same labeling with poor ones, exacerbating the problem of trust.
It's one of the most fascinatingly unmarketable products I've ever seen.
Over the next few months, I experimented on every surface in sight, and paid wary cleaning people to use damp microfiber textiles to wash my car, clean my house, and report back. My fellow cleaners were not happy; robbed of the sensory excitement of cleaning solutions—bright colors, heady fumes, sudsing, foaming, and definitive rinsing—everyone felt ineffective and disarmed. The rituals didn't feel right. But unquestionably, the stuff worked. Windows disappeared, floors gleamed, the Subaru sparkled.
I also realized that cleaning my house exclusively with microfiber would obliterate the costs and the storage space demanded by a massive array of task-specific chemicals and applicators I no longer needed. Once my cupboards were bare, I multiplied that emptiness times 100 million American households and wondered how the makers of household cleaners, paper towels, and disposable wipes would survive if microfiber ever really caught on. Would they help launch a new era of nearly chemical-free cleaning, or cling to their profits for dear life?
Spokespeople from Procter & Gamble, makers of Swiffer—that flat mop with chemically "pre-lotioned" disposable pads of cellulose—claimed [to me that] they were "not really familiar with microfiber" and unaware of any P&G initiatives to promote chemical-free cleaning with such products. P&G—the country's fifth-largest company, with net sales of $76.4 billion, $36.2 billion of which qualify as "household care"—said they are serving their customers’ desire for "convenience" and, most urgently, distance from the dirt.
The observation that all company spokespeople confirmed, whether makers of disinfectant toilet-bowl cleaner or makers of microfiber, was quite a revelation: America loves its cleaning chemicals, and lots of them. We have a distinct cleaning culture. And as much as that culture makes us look stubborn, superstitious, underinformed, and overly aggressive, it's who we are...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:28 PM
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
( 3:56 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:56 PM
Saturday, June 07, 2008
( 5:24 PM ) The Rat
AS OF about 5 this morning (Pacific time), I have a niece!! Though I forgot to ask if she has the signature large head.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:24 PM
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
( 10:42 PM ) The Rat
HOW TO BUY CHEAP EUROPEAN TRAIN TICKETS. Significantly cheaper than the fares on Rail Europe's site.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:42 PM
Sunday, June 01, 2008
( 7:57 PM ) The Rat
YVES SAINT LAURENT has died.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:57 PM