Tuesday, December 30, 2008
( 4:29 PM ) The Rat
I was once in a sushi bar where the chef behind the counter, a feisty sixty-year-old Japanese, having ascertained that my companion was German, opined that he liked German girls because they were 'tall,' a word he accompanied by a cupping gesture of both hands to indicate large breasts. This reissued Indécence is unquestionably a tall perfume...
—Perfumes: The Guide*
*This book contains too many keepers to blog, so Ratty's leaving that task to ET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:29 PM
Friday, December 26, 2008
( 2:14 PM ) The Rat
LITTLE BLUE PILLS AMONG THE WAYS CIA WINS FRIENDS IN AFGHANISTAN. The reference to "thinking outside the box" seems a bit misplaced, tho.
Officials say these inducements are necessary in Afghanistan, a country where warlords and tribal leaders expect to be paid for their cooperation, and where, for some, switching sides can be as easy as changing tunics. If the Americans don't offer incentives, there are others who will, including Taliban commanders, drug dealers and even Iranian agents in the region.
The usual bribes of choice—cash and weapons—aren't always the best options, Afghanistan veterans say. Guns too often fall into the wrong hands, they say, and showy gifts such as money, jewelry and cars tend to draw unwanted attention.
"If you give an asset $1,000, he'll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone," said Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company. "Even if he doesn't get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it."
The key, Smith said, is to find a way to meet the informant's personal needs in a way that keeps him firmly on your side but leaves little or no visible trace.
"You're trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century," Smith said, "so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:14 PM
Thursday, December 25, 2008
( 9:48 PM ) The Rat
MONTY PYTHON now have their own YouTube channel!
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:48 PM
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
( 11:14 PM ) The Rat
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION GENERATOR.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:14 PM
( 9:31 PM ) The Rat
The question that women casually shopping for perfume ask more than any other is this: 'What scent drives men wild?' After years of intense research, we know the definitive answer. It is bacon. Now, on to the far more interesting subject of perfume...
—Perfumes: The Guide
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:31 PM
( 9:05 PM ) The Rat
NORAD TRACKS SANTA.
Also: Was George Bailey just a subprime lender?
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:05 PM
( 8:45 PM ) The Rat
HOW TO MAX OUT YOUR TINY KITCHEN, via Smitten Kitchen—who now, btw, also sells prints of her stunning food-porn photography. I like the ingredients best.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:45 PM
( 6:28 PM ) The Rat
FILL 'ER UP WITH HUMAN FAT.
Beverly Hills doctor Craig Alan Bittner turned the fat he removed from patients into biodiesel that fueled his Ford SUV and his girlfriend's Lincoln Navigator...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:28 PM
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
( 11:21 PM ) The Rat
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Sunday, December 21, 2008
( 8:19 PM ) The Rat
THE $54 MILLION PANTS SUIT UNRAVELS AGAIN.
If you'd like to contribute to the Chungs' defense fund (and/or leave them a note), go here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:19 PM
( 2:37 PM ) The Rat
FREEMAN DYSON ON THE GALÁPAGOS. Some interesting points in this.
Human problems became acute during the last ten years, when the number of flights between the Ecuador mainland and the airport on Baltra adjoining Santa Cruz island increased dramatically. Visitors became more numerous and also wealthier, as tourist boats and hotels became more luxurious. The province of Galápagos, with its capital at Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal island, quickly became the richest province of Ecuador, and settlers poured in to share the wealth and seek their fortunes. The village of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz was closest to the airport and grew rapidly into a city. The price of real estate escalated.
The government found it easy to set strict limits to the numbers and movements of tourists, but it was politically impossible to set strict limits to the numbers and movements of settlers. The government could not forbid its own citizens to move from one province to another. After arriving on the islands and finding their development of property restricted by ecological rules, settlers organized protests and strikes against the local government. The park administrators now consider the most serious threat to the ecology of the islands to be the settlers and not the tourists...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:37 PM
Thursday, December 18, 2008
( 1:10 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:10 PM
( 12:10 PM ) The Rat
THE POWER (AND PERIL) OF PRAISING YOUR KIDS. Fascinating stuff here (on the effects of praising children for intelligence vs. praising them for effort).
Why did this happen? "When we praise children for their intelligence," Dweck wrote in her study summary, "we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don't risk making mistakes." And that's what the fifth-graders had done: They'd chosen to look smart and avoid the risk of being embarrassed.
In a subsequent round, none of the fifth-graders had a choice. The test was difficult, designed for kids two years ahead of their grade level. Predictably, everyone failed. But again, the two groups of children, divided at random at the study's start, responded differently. Those praised for their effort on the first test assumed they simply hadn't focused hard enough on this test. "They got very involved, willing to try every solution to the puzzles," Dweck recalled. "Many of them remarked, unprovoked, 'This is my favorite test.'" Not so for those praised for their smarts. They assumed their failure was evidence that they weren’t really smart at all. "Just watching them, you could see the strain. They were sweating and miserable."
Dweck's researchers then gave all the fifth-graders a final round of tests that were engineered to be as easy as the first round. Those who had been praised for their effort significantly improved on their first score—by about 30 percent. Those who’d been told they were smart did worse than they had at the very beginning—by about 20 percent.
Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. "Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control," she explains. "They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child's control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure."
In follow-up interviews, Dweck discovered that those who think that innate intelligence is the key to success begin to discount the importance of effort. I am smart, the kids' reasoning goes; I don't need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatized—it's public proof that you can't cut it on your natural gifts.
Repeating her experiments, Dweck found this effect of praise on performance held true for students of every socioeconomic class. It hit both boys and girls—the very brightest girls especially (they collapsed the most following failure). Even preschoolers weren't immune to the inverse power of praise...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:10 PM
( 10:47 AM ) The Rat
PURDUE UNIVERSITY TO SELL NAMING RIGHTS FOR NEW SPECIES OF BATS.
The first widely reported case of taxonomy—the classifying of living organisms—pairing up with capitalism happened in 2005. An online gambling Web site paid the Wildlife Conservation Society $650,000 for the naming rights to a Bolivian monkey, beating out a bid by comedian Ellen DeGeneres.
Since then, a fish-naming auction in Monaco raised more than $2 million for conservation work in Indonesia, and the University of Florida took in more than $40,000 for naming a new species of butterfly after an Ohio grandmother.
This summer, the Scripps Oceanographic Museum in San Diego began hawking naming rights for several aquatic species, including a hydrothermal vent worm and a sea slug...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:47 AM
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
( 9:07 PM ) The Rat
IOWA TOWN USES GARLIC SALT TO DE-ICE THE ROADS. Yum!
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:07 PM
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
( 12:29 PM ) The Rat
CRACK IS ON SALE, woot! ...via lottery, that is, with winners eligible to buy $140-to-$295-range orchestra seats for $25. I entered for the first time yesterday, and having scored (you know what they say—"Lucky at opera-ticket drawings, unlucky in love"), will be attending Don Giovanni, my fifth Met opera in two months, this Friday. (Just realized that, with London and Berlin added in, it's also my tenth opera in five months... and the damage would be even worse if I'd been in Europe at any time other than the summer hiatus. Seriously: Crack.)
More info on the lottery here.
Btw I'm still far from sold on the Met itself—Americans just aren't good with either opera houses or parks. Or possibly, to achieve the perfect opera house, you just need more fires.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:29 PM
Monday, December 15, 2008
( 4:47 AM ) The Rat
CHINESE 'CLASSICAL POEM' WAS BROTHEL AD, via A&LD.
There were red faces on the editorial board of one of Germany's top scientific institutions, the Max Planck Institute, after it ran the text of a handbill for a Macau strip club on the front page of its latest journal. Editors had hoped to find an elegant Chinese poem to grace the cover of a special issue, focusing on China, of the MaxPlanckForschung journal, but instead of poetry they ran a text effectively proclaiming 'Hot Housewives in action!' on the front of the third-quarter edition. Their 'enchanting and coquettish performance' was highly recommended.
The use of traditional Chinese characters and references to "the northern mainland" seem to indicate the text comes from Hong Kong or Macau, and it promises burlesque acts by pretty-as-jade housewives with hot bodies for the daytime visitor.
The Max Planck Institute was quick to acknowledge its error explaining that it had consulted a German sinologist prior to publication of the text. 'To our sincere regret... it has now emerged that the text contains deeper levels of meaning, which are not immediately accessible to a non-native speaker,' the institute said in an apology...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:47 AM
Sunday, December 14, 2008
( 1:06 AM ) The Rat
THE PROBLEM WITH IRONY DETECTORS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:06 AM
( 12:52 AM ) The Rat
GHETTO CREAM TEA. (Strangely, that phrase currently returns no hits on Google.) I'm probably insulting three cuisines at once by pointing this out, but if you don't have time to hop the pond for a proper cream tea with scones, clotted cream, and jam (mmm best thing ever), a buttermilk biscuit from KFC, spread with butter and jam, comes surprisingly close... or at least, it did when I tried it with St. Dalfour strawberry preserves. (KFC biscuits come much nearer to the texture of an actual English scone, IMO, than do the things known as "scones" in this country.)
Anyway, presumably a ghetto cream tea would be less likely to upset people in quite the way the ghetto latte has been known to upset people.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:52 AM
Saturday, December 13, 2008
( 11:47 AM ) The Rat
CHRISTIAAN POSTMA CLOCK.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:47 AM
Thursday, December 11, 2008
( 5:00 PM ) The Rat
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008
( 10:33 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:33 AM
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
( 12:26 AM ) The Rat
SPOOF LONDON UNDERGROUND ANNOUNCEMENTS, by Emma Clarke, actual voice announcer for the Underground. (Or rather, she was until this happened, meh.) A couple of these aren't as good as the others, but they're mostly pretty funny (and brief).
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:26 AM
Monday, December 08, 2008
( 9:03 PM ) The Rat
RADIO 1'S ALCOHOL EXPERIMENT. A widget that computes how many calories you drank last night, then translates that into British-junk-food terms.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:03 PM
Saturday, December 06, 2008
( 10:52 PM ) The Rat
'I WILL SUPPLY THE RAW HERRING AND YOU BRING THE BIG STRAP-ON BEAK.' Via Best of Craigslist, of course.
'I cannot stress this enough however, you must play as a ROBOTIC dinosaur' is also worth a stop. (Actually it's funnier, but it's also a longer read.)
And, last but very definitely not least: 'You were being shoved into a Dallas Police car.'
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:52 PM
( 11:57 AM ) The Rat
20 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ELECTIONS, via JM. My favorites: 8, 10, 11, and 12.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:57 AM
Friday, December 05, 2008
( 2:02 PM ) The Rat
CROSS-DRESSING PARIS GANG LIFTS £70M IN GEMS. My day has just been made by that headline alone.
Armed Robbers dressed in drag have stolen more than £70 million worth of jewellery in an audacious raid lasting less than five minutes. Four men armed with shotguns and pistols burst into Harry Winston, on the glamorous Avenue Montaigne, close to the Champs Elysées.
Pushing security guards and staff up against a wall, the men rifled displays and safes, filling bags with diamonds, gold, pearls, cash and other jewels. Two were men dressed in women's clothes while the others wore ski masks...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:02 PM
( 9:05 AM ) The Rat
Before returning to my apartment to mark one seventh of my weekly stack of sixty-odd freshman essays (as many as I could take in a sitting)...
—My Life As a Man
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:05 AM
Thursday, December 04, 2008
( 10:21 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:21 PM
( 9:58 PM ) The Rat
PINK UPHOLSTERED VAGINA COUCH.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:58 PM
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
( 3:21 AM ) The Rat
THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS, ALWAYS MIX YOUR OWN DRINKS! So I just got back in from Tristan und Isolde. Yeah, note the timestamp. In the immortal words of Remy, "I think it's apparent that I need to rethink my life a little bit."
(OperaBlog is 100 percent right about René Pape, btw, though we saw different Tristans, as Peter Seiffert was out sick tonight. I thought Michelle de Young was quite good, too. FWIW, the audience tonight didn't seem nearly as displeased as it sounds like they were the night OperaBlog went.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:21 AM
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
( 2:51 PM ) The Rat
WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CHECK YOUR KID'S HOMEWORK.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:51 PM
Monday, December 01, 2008
( 4:42 PM ) The Rat
TODAY IS National Bloody Mary Day. Edited to add: Oops, actually yesterday was. Sorry, it's been a long week... (and yes, I know it's Monday).
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:42 PM