Tuesday, August 31, 2010
( 11:11 PM ) The Rat
LF ON BEHAVIOR, via A Huge Spider for Daddy. Also see WK on Mysteries and LF on the Electra Complex.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:11 PM
( 6:27 AM ) The Rat
RICHER VS. THINNER VS. YOUNGER VS. SMARTER.
While "richer" was the leading choice among women in the survey (picked by 41 percent), "thinner" ran a strong second (29 percent). Among men, by contrast, "thinner" was in a third-place tie with "smarter" (at 14 percent), putting it behind "younger" (16 percent) as well as "richer" (46 percent). Note that plenty of research has shown excess weight to be as common among men as among women. The difference is that men do not care as much...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:27 AM
( 6:24 AM ) The Rat
The years and hours of her life came back to her, and for a long time, in a stillness broken only by the ticking of the big bronze clock, she passed them in review. It had been a very happy life and she had been a very fortunate person—this was the truth that seemed to emerge most vividly. She had had the best of everything, and in a world in which the circumstances of so many people made them unenviable it was an advantage never to have known anything particularly unpleasant. It appeared to Isabel that the unpleasant had been even too absent from her knowledge, for she had gathered from her acquaintance with literature that it was often a source of interest and even of instruction. Her father had kept it away from her—her handsome, much loved father, who always had such an aversion to it.
—Portrait of a Lady
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:24 AM
Monday, August 30, 2010
( 10:07 PM ) The Rat
WHAT BOOZE LOOKS LIKE UNDER A MICROSCOPE. Ratty has, somewhere in storage, a silk scarf patterned after how scotch looks under a microscope. (More designs here.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:07 PM
( 7:33 PM ) The Rat
THE MET'S SUMMER HD FESTIVAL is still underway, fyi...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:33 PM
( 7:31 PM ) The Rat
YIKES. The ad has since been pulled btw.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:31 PM
( 3:30 PM ) The Rat
"FROM ABOVE, IT LOOKS PERFECTLY NORMAL. IT'S JUST LIKE WHEN YOU LOOK AT EARTH FROM SPACE, YOU SEE NO WARS." The Wait Wait staff eat the Denny's Fried Cheese Melt.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:30 PM
Sunday, August 29, 2010
( 5:44 AM ) The Rat
RATTY IS HEADED to the Dutchess County Fair later today, but alas, she is not sanguine about her chances of finding fried beer there.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:44 AM
( 5:37 AM ) The Rat
CAN PRESCHOOLERS BE DEPRESSED? My initial reaction to this headline was snarkiness—just because really, can you imagine a more NYTM-like headline? That said, I'd be surprised if there wasn't something to this, though it is rather at odds with our desire to airbrush the experience of childhood.
Is it really possible to diagnose such a grown-up affliction in such a young child? And is diagnosing clinical depression in a preschooler a good idea, or are children that young too immature, too changeable, too temperamental to be laden with such a momentous label? Preschool depression may be a legitimate ailment, one that could gain traction with parents in the way that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (A.D.H.D.) and oppositional defiant disorder (O.D.D.)—afflictions few people heard of 30 years ago—have entered the what-to-worry-about lexicon. But when the rate of development among children varies so widely and burgeoning personalities are still in flux, how can we know at what point a child crosses the line from altogether unremarkable to somewhat different to clinically disordered? Just how early can depression begin?
The answer, according to recent research, seems to be earlier than expected. Today a number of child psychiatrists and developmental psychologists say depression can surface in children as young as 2 or 3. "The idea is very threatening," says Joan Luby, a professor of child psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, who gave Kiran his diagnosis and whose research on preschool depression has often met with resistance. "In my 20 years of research, it's been slowly eroding," Luby says of that resistance. "But some hard-core scientists still brush the idea off as mushy or psychobabble, and laypeople think the idea is ridiculous."
For adults who have known depression, however, the prospect of early diagnosis makes sense. Kiran's mother had what she now recognizes was childhood depression. "There were definite signs throughout my grade-school years," she says. Had therapy been available to her then, she imagines that she would have leapt at the chance. "My parents knew my behavior wasn't right, but they really didn’t know what to do"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:37 AM
( 5:34 AM ) The Rat
And thus the Treasure Valley became a garden again, and the inheritance which had been lost by cruelty was regained by love...
—Ruskin, The King of the Golden River*
*possibly still Ratty's all-time favorite fairy tale
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:34 AM
Saturday, August 28, 2010
( 1:18 PM ) The Rat
DOES YOUR LANGUAGE SHAPE HOW YOU THINK? Ratty adores this kind of thing. Link (via IKM) is from this week's NYTM.
In recent years, various experiments have shown that grammatical genders can shape the feelings and associations of speakers toward objects around them. In the 1990s, for example, psychologists compared associations between speakers of German and Spanish. There are many inanimate nouns whose genders in the two languages are reversed. A German bridge is feminine (die Brücke), for instance, but el puente is masculine in Spanish; and the same goes for clocks, apartments, forks, newspapers, pockets, shoulders, stamps, tickets, violins, the sun, the world and love. On the other hand, an apple is masculine for Germans but feminine in Spanish, and so are chairs, brooms, butterflies, keys, mountains, stars, tables, wars, rain and garbage. When speakers were asked to grade various objects on a range of characteristics, Spanish speakers deemed bridges, clocks and violins to have more "manly properties" like strength, but Germans tended to think of them as more slender or elegant. With objects like mountains or chairs, which are "he" in German but "she" in Spanish, the effect was reversed.
In a different experiment, French and Spanish speakers were asked to assign human voices to various objects in a cartoon. When French speakers saw a picture of a fork (la fourchette), most of them wanted it to speak in a woman's voice, but Spanish speakers, for whom el tenedor is masculine, preferred a gravelly male voice for it. More recently, psychologists have even shown that "gendered languages" imprint gender traits for objects so strongly in the mind that these associations obstruct speakers' ability to commit information to memory.
[O]nce gender connotations have been imposed on impressionable young minds, they lead those with a gendered mother tongue to see the inanimate world through lenses tinted with associations and emotional responses that English speakers—stuck in their monochrome desert of "its"—are entirely oblivious to. Did the opposite genders of "bridge" in German and Spanish, for example, have an effect on the design of bridges in Spain and Germany? Do the emotional maps imposed by a gender system have higher-level behavioral consequences for our everyday life? Do they shape tastes, fashions, habits and preferences in the societies concerned?
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:18 PM
( 1:02 PM ) The Rat
ARMISTEAD MAUPIN'S NEW NOVEL, which is due out in early November, is almost certainly going to suck—just as this and this did—but yeah, I'm going to read it. (The first six vols. of the Tales series are charming and funny, if sentimental; and the same goes for Maybe the Moon.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:02 PM
( 9:43 AM ) The Rat
THERE'S A METAPHOR FOR LIFE in here somewhere...
This is also fun, as is this.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:43 AM
( 6:59 AM ) The Rat
CULT OF LESS: LIVING OUT OF A HARD DRIVE. Ratty is very much in favor of scaling down for both aesthetic and environmental reasons—and to have more money left for operas!—but this is still a bit disturbing. Wouldn't it be unnatural to live a life with no possessions that "snap and wear down over time"? (Also, the thing about suicide threats is a bit wacky—or do I just say that because I'm over 30?)
Chris Yurista, a DJ from Washington, DC, cites this trend in digital music as one reason he was able to hand over the keys to his basement apartment over a year ago.
"It's always nice to have a personal sense of home, but that aside—the internet has replaced my need for an address," the 27-year-old said.
Since boxing up his physical possessions and getting rid of his home, Mr Yurista has taken to the streets with a backpack full of designer clothing, a laptop, an external hard drive, a small piano keyboard and a bicycle—an armful of goods that totals over $3,000 (£1,890) in value.
The American University graduate, who spends much of his time basking in the glow emanating from his Macbook, earns a significant income at his full-time job as a travel agent and believes his new life on the digital grid is less cluttered than his old life on the physical one.
"I don't feel a void living the way I'm living because I've figured out a way to use digital technology to my advantage," Mr Yurista explained.
Mr Yurista feels by digitising his life, he no longer has to worry about dusting, organising and cleaning his possessions. And he says his new intangible goods can continue to live on indefinitely with little maintenance.
"Things like records snap and wear down over time. It's upsetting. MP3s don't," he said...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 AM
( 6:54 AM ) The Rat
Isabel, as she herself grew older, became acquainted with revulsions, with disgusts; there were days when the world looked black and she asked herself with some sharpness what it was that she was pretending to live for. Her old habit had been to live by enthusiasm, to fall in love with suddenly-perceived possibilities, with the idea of some new adventure. As a younger person she had been used to proceed from one little exaltation to the other: there were scarcely any dull places between. But Madame Merle had suppressed enthusiasm; she fell in love now-a-days with nothing; she lived entirely by reason and by wisdom. There were hours when Isabel would have given anything for lessons in this art; if her brilliant friend had been near she would have made an appeal to her. She had become aware more than before of the advantage of being like that—of having made one's self a firm surface, a sort of corselet of silver.
—Portrait of a Lady
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:54 AM
Friday, August 27, 2010
( 9:16 PM ) The Rat
SWF, LOVES SEBALD, SEEKS SAME IN MAN, via IKM. When this author mentioned The Black Swan I totally thought she meant the one by Thos. Mann. Yes, I am more pretentious than a senior editor at The New Republic. (In fairness, it's not a bad book, though far from Mann's best.)
By the way, Ms. Franklin, there are plenty of men who love Sebald—it's just that they're all in doctoral programs, and gay. Actually, the one straight guy I know who loves Sebald gave me Vertigo some years back, declaring it "the perfect present" for me. It was okay, I thought, but Austerlitz is probably the best novel I've read of any published in the last ten years (with Everyman perhaps a distant second).
My ideal man doesn’t exist. This, at least, is what I had to conclude after visiting alikewise.com, the much-ballyhooed new site for "dating by the book," which purports to match people based on their taste in literature...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:16 PM
( 9:15 PM ) The Rat
THERE'S A FUN FIRST READER COMMENT at Clean people feel morally superior.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:15 PM
( 9:14 PM ) The Rat
OUTSOURCED CALL CENTERS RETURN, TO U.S. HOMES.
For years, Americans have had their phone calls about credit card bills and broken cell phones handled by people in the Philippines or India. But American firms are starting to bring call centers back to the U.S.—and this time around, they are hiring more people to work in their own homes.
Experts say outsourcing is still accelerating for jobs in IT services and manufacturing. Phil Fersht, an outsourcing analyst, says even before the recession started, companies were starting to realize that offshoring wasn't the best option for other services.
In some cases, workers in India are making only about 15 percent less than workers in Nebraska, he says. That's the threshold where companies start thinking about whether it's worth it to hire an American worker instead of a foreign one...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:14 PM
( 9:13 PM ) The Rat
JURY: NO BACK CHILD SUPPORT FOR BILLIONAIRE'S KIDS. Eek.
A jury on Thursday rejected a claim by billionaire real estate mogul Donald Bren's two adult children for $134 million in retroactive child support.
The unusual case was a high-stakes contest between one of the nation's richest men and the children he fathered during a 13-year affair with Jennifer McKay Gold, who brought the lawsuit on behalf of her children when they were minors...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:13 PM
( 9:12 PM ) The Rat
THE ROSE REWRITTEN. Updated version of that sentimental story about wartime pen pals meeting at Grand Central Station that you've probably been forwarded at least once.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:12 PM
( 9:08 PM ) The Rat
THE FOOD LAB: DO 'BETTER' EGGS REALLY TASTE BETTER? via ET. Don't miss the green eggs (albeit without ham) part!
By the way "cage-free" is dubious term at best—try to look for "pastured" instead.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:08 PM
( 9:00 PM ) The Rat
Blue cheese contains natural amphetamines. Why are students not informed about this?
—Mark E. Smith
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:00 PM
Thursday, August 26, 2010
( 11:00 PM ) The Rat
SIGN WIN, via FailBlog.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:00 PM
( 10:17 PM ) The Rat
RATTY HAS JUST SADLY CANCELED the arrangements she'd made to spend two weeks of September at home in California. Snif! (Ratty's relationship to the East and West Coasts, respectively, sometimes puts her in mind of Thos. Mann: "'You see, Aschenbach has always lived like this'—here the speaker closed the fingers of his left hand to a fist—'never like this'—and he let his hand hang relaxed from the back of the chair.")
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:17 PM
( 5:29 PM ) The Rat
IN RATTY'S BOOK, it's going to be awhile before anybody tops this TFLN...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:29 PM
( 4:07 PM ) The Rat
THE GEOGRAPHY OF SEX, via a friend. I can't decide which is funnier, the "most sexually satisfied cities" list or the "least sexually satisfied cities" list.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:07 PM
( 1:32 PM ) The Rat
LOCAL WATER TOWER CELEBRATES 50TH YEAR AS REPOSITORY OF INFORMATION ON WHO IS A SLUT. Um, was there some kind of subtext in SJ's forwarding this to me without comment?
While the 160-foot-tall structure catalogs a variety of information—including a definitive index of who is a fag or a queer and who has a limp dick—Torcello contends that it is the half-century-old compendium of Concordia's sluts and what they are willing to do with Principal Delahunt that offers the richest portrait of the town's history.
"Take, for example, a 1964 message near the reservoir ladder, where in large red letters we can read that Cindy Davis takes it in the ass all night long," Torcello said. "Now, walk around to the south leg and you'll see words spray-painted some 23 years later that indicate her daughter, Becky Davis, takes it in the ass like a pro. That kind of insight into familial legacy is simply unprecedented."
Continued Torcello, "Who knows what future generations may one day learn about Becky's own daughter, Tammy, and whether she, too, likes it in the ass?"
Though the veracity of the data appearing on structure has occasionally been called into question, officials maintained that the information is regularly updated to reflect the latest reports of who sucks dick, and who sucks even more dick...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:32 PM
( 10:00 AM ) The Rat
KAMA SUTRA COOKIE CUTTERS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:00 AM
( 9:56 AM ) The Rat
STUDYING THE BRAIN OFF THE GRID, PROFESSORS FIND CLARITY. Ratty hopes we'll see a lot more research in this field...
For the first time in three days in the wilderness, Mr. Braver is not wearing his watch. "I forgot," he says.
It is a small thing, the kind of change many vacationers notice in themselves as they unwind and lose track of time. But for Mr. Braver and his companions, these moments lead to a question: What is happening to our brains?
Mr. Braver, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, was one of five neuroscientists on an unusual journey. They spent a week in late May in this remote area of southern Utah, rafting the San Juan River, camping on the soft banks and hiking the tributary canyons.
It was a primitive trip with a sophisticated goal: to understand how heavy use of digital devices and other technology changes how we think and behave, and how a retreat into nature might reverse those effects...
Also see Coffeehouses unplugging Internet access to reconnect with patrons.
[F]ree Wi-Fi is less of a perk after coffee giant Starbucks stopped charging for it last month.
"There is now a market niche for not having Wi-Fi," said Bryant Simon, a Temple University history professor and author of "Everything but the Coffee: Learning About America From Starbucks."
And not just for Luddites. Web designer Mike Kuniavsky, who has spent his career dissecting people's relationship to digital technology, hangs out at Four Barrel Coffee precisely because he can disconnect from the Internet and concentrate on his thoughts. That's where he wrote his upcoming book on consumer electronics design: "Smart Things."
"No Wi-Fi is the reason I was able to write the book," Kuniavsky said.
Dan and Nathalie Drozdenko turned off the Wi-Fi at their Los Angeles cafe when it malfunctioned. The complaints poured in, but so did the compliments: Lots of customers appreciated a wireless cup of joe at the Downbeat Cafe, a popular lunch spot in Echo Park.
"People come here because we don't offer it. They know they can get their work done and not get distracted," Dan Drozdenko said...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:56 AM
( 9:42 AM ) The Rat
SCOTTISH SCIENTISTS DEVELOP WHISKY BIOFUEL.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:42 AM
( 9:40 AM ) The Rat
MONOCLE visits 9 hours, a new capsule hotel concept in Kyoto.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:40 AM
( 9:36 AM ) The Rat
Next to the wound, what women make best is the bandage.
—Jules-Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:36 AM
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
( 8:39 PM ) The Rat
13 MOST CREATIVE TOASTERS. The notepad toaster would be great for a bit of epistolary passive-aggression over breakfast (or perhaps in a sandwich packed for lunch?).
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:39 PM
( 6:17 PM ) The Rat
PRIVATE JETS TO GO ON SHOW AT BRIGHTON PHOTOGRAPHY BIENNIAL. And they all seem to have been designed for Liberace...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:17 PM
( 6:14 PM ) The Rat
TECHNOLOGY LEADS MORE PARK VISITORS INTO TROUBLE. I think the other term for this is "thinning the herd."
As an ever more wired and interconnected public visits the parks in rising numbers—July was a record month for visitors at Yellowstone—rangers say that technology often figures into such mishaps.
People with cellphones call rangers from mountaintops to request refreshments or a guide; in Jackson Hole, Wyo., one lost hiker even asked for hot chocolate.
A French teenager was injured after plunging 75 feet this month from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon when he backed up while taking pictures. And last fall, a group of hikers in the canyon called in rescue helicopters three times by pressing the emergency button on their satellite location device. When rangers arrived the second time, the hikers explained that their water supply "tasted salty."
"Because of having that electronic device, people have an expectation that they can do something stupid and be rescued," said Jackie Skaggs, spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.
"Every once in a while we get a call from someone who has gone to the top of a peak, the weather has turned and they are confused about how to get down and they want someone to personally escort them," Ms. Skaggs said. "The answer is that you are up there for the night"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:14 PM
( 6:00 PM ) The Rat
BEGGING FOR A LOLCAPTION.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:00 PM
( 4:55 PM ) The Rat
GRILLED CHEESE ACADEMY. But who would ever want to graduate?
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:55 PM
( 2:18 PM ) The Rat
"I saw a happy man whose cherished dream was so obviously fulfilled, who had attained his object in life, who had gained what he wanted, who was satisfied with his fate and himself. There is always, for some reason, an element of sadness mingled with my thoughts of human happiness, and, on this occasion, at the sight of a happy man I was overcome by an oppressive feeling that was close upon despair. It was particularly oppressive at night. A bed was made up for me in the room next to my brother's bedroom, and I could hear that he was awake, and that he kept getting up and going to the plate of gooseberries and taking one. I reflected how many satisfied, happy people there really are! What a suffocating force it is! You look at life: the insolence and idleness of the strong, the ignorance and brutishness of the weak, incredible poverty all about us, overcrowding, degeneration, drunkenness, hypocrisy, lying.... Yet all is calm and stillness in the houses and in the streets; of the fifty thousand living in a town, there is not one who would cry out, who would give vent to his indignation aloud. We see the people going to market for provisions, eating by day, sleeping by night, talking their silly nonsense, getting married, growing old, serenely escorting their dead to the cemetery; but we do not see and we do not hear those who suffer, and what is terrible in life goes on somewhere behind the scenes.... Everything is quiet and peaceful, and nothing protests but mute statistics: so many people gone out of their minds, so many gallons of vodka drunk, so many children dead from malnutrition.... And this order of things is evidently necessary; evidently the happy man only feels at ease because the unhappy bear their burdens in silence, and without that silence happiness would be impossible. It's a case of general hypnotism. There ought to be behind the door of every happy, contented man some one standing with a hammer continually reminding him with a tap that there are unhappy people; that however happy he may be, life will show him her laws sooner or later, trouble will come for him—disease, poverty, losses, and no one will see or hear, just as now he neither sees nor hears others. But there is no man with a hammer; the happy man lives at his ease, and trivial daily cares faintly agitate him like the wind in the aspen-tree—and all goes well."
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:18 PM
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
( 6:31 PM ) The Rat
TIME ANNOUNCES NEW VERSION OF MAGAZINE AIMED AT ADULTS, via the Onion. I thought my favorite thing in this was the subhed "New magazine to be geared toward readers already aware of where Pakistan is," but that was before I saw "Analysts expect similar move from competitor Newsweek, the news magazine for the illiterate."
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:31 PM
( 6:01 PM ) The Rat
THOSE SWEDES... Here is a clip of Swedish baritone Peter Mattei impersonating Daniel Westling on the eve of his marriage to Crown Princess Victoria, to sing an aria from Don Giovanni.
"Deh, vieni alla finestra" (trans. here) was PM's strongest aria when I saw him as the Don during the Met's '08-09 season (he was adequate in that part, not great—his real Mozart role is so obviously Almaviva); here's a "straight" interpretation he did of it at Aix-en-Provence in 2002. Mr. Westling seems, in the clip, quite good-natured about PM's impression of him; personally, I'd be much more nervous about having anybody with a voice like that sing to my fiancée!
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:01 PM
( 3:33 PM ) The Rat
COUPLE SUES REAL ESTATE AGENT FOR SEX IN HOUSE, via Consumerist.
CBB spent more than $7,000 to clean the home, fix the damage and replace the furniture. The couple, however, said that even after the cleaning they have found incense and lubricants around the house and soiled and "sticky substances" and no longer feel safe there.
Skar was fired and denies any wrong doing.
The company is included in the lawsuit because of "negligent hiring" and the fact that Skar was allegedly hired even though he had a criminal history. The lawsuit states that CBB had received a complaint that Skar was involved in drug dealing and male prostitution, but they didn't investigate it...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:33 PM
( 11:38 AM ) The Rat
LONDON UNDERCOVER'S AWESOME UMBRELLAS—the best is the English Breakfast—are now available Stateside at the Ace Hotel. (Other retail locations here.) But if you're giving one as a gift, have the recipient give you back a dollar or something, as umbrellas are considered an unlucky present in some cultures.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:38 AM
( 10:10 AM ) The Rat
Andrei Yefimych lay there with bated breath: he waited in terror to be hit again. It was as if someone had taken a sickle, plunged it into him, and twisted it several times in his chest and guts. He bit his pillow in pain and clenched his teeth, and suddenly, amidst the chaos, a dreadful, unbearable thought flashed clearly in his head, that exactly the same pain must have been felt day after day, for years, by those people who now looked like black shadows in the moonlight. How could it happen that in the course of more than twenty years he had not known and had not wanted to know it? He had not known, he had had no notion of pain, and therefore was not to blame, but his conscience, as rough and intractable as Nikita, made him go cold from head to foot.
—"Ward No. 6"
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:10 AM
( 9:42 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:42 AM
( 12:56 AM ) The Rat
THE LAST WORD: ADVICE FROM 'AMERICA'S WORST MOM.'
And suddenly, weirdly, I found myself in that place you always hear about: the center of a media storm. It was kind of fun, but also kind of terrifying—because everyone was weighing in on my parenting skills. Reporters queried from China, Israel, Australia, Malta. The English wanted to know, "Are we wrapping our children in cotton wool?" To which I boldly replied, "What the heck is cotton wool?" (Turns out to be the kind of cotton in cotton balls.)
The media dubbed me "America's Worst Mom." (Go ahead—Google it.) But that's not what I am.
I really think I'm a parent who is afraid of some things (bears, cars) and less afraid of others (subways, strangers). But mostly I'm afraid that I, too, have been swept up in the impossible obsession of our era: total safety for our children every second of every day. The idea that we should provide it and actually could provide it. It's as if we don't believe in fate anymore, or good luck or bad luck. No, it's all up to us.
Childhood really has changed since today's parents were kids, and not just in the United States. Australian children get stared at when they ride the bus alone. Canadian kids stay inside playing video games. After I started a blog called Free Range Kids, I heard from a dad in Ireland who lets his 11-year-old play in the local park, unsupervised, and now a mom down the street won't let her son go to their house. She thinks the dad is reckless.
What has changed in the English-speaking world that has made childhood independence taboo? The ground has not gradually gotten harder under the jungle gym. The bus stops have not crept farther from home. Crime is actually lower than it was when most of us were growing up. So there is no reality-based reason that children today should be treated as more helpless and vulnerable than we were when we were young.
If parents all around us are clutching their children close, it’s easy to understand why: It's what pop culture is telling us to do. Stories of kidnappings swamp the news. Go online, and you can find a map of local sex offenders as easily as the local Victoria's Secret (possibly in the same place). Meantime, if you do summon the courage to put your kids on a bus or a bench or a bike, other parents keep butting in: An unwatched child is a tragedy waiting to happen...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:56 AM
( 12:55 AM ) The Rat
HOW SNOOKI GOT HER GUCCI, via EG. Ratty greatly admires Hermès, not least because of this book; still, the last sentence below made her laugh really hard...
Allegedly, the anxious folks at these various luxury houses are all aggressively gifting our gal Snookums with free bags. No surprise, right? But here's the shocker: They are not sending her their own bags. They are sending her each other's bags! Competitors' bags!
Call it what you will—"preemptive product placement"? "unbranding"?—either way, it's brilliant, and it makes total sense. As much as one might adore Miss Snickerdoodle, her ability to inspire dress-alikes among her fans is questionable. The bottom line? Nobody in fashion wants to co-brand with Snooki.
As the Snookstress odyssey continues, it will be interesting to watch her bag evolution. Will Gucci send her a truckload of Goyard? Will Goyard then deluge her with Valextra? (If Snookie starts carrying a Valextra bag, it is inevitable that she will malaprop the name into "Valtrex," the herpes medication. This will doubtless accelerate the inevitable preemptive strike by Casa Valextra.)
Snooki's meteoric and lucrative ascent means that she will soon be able to sidestep the whole issue and buy her own Birkin, thereby precipitating a mass Jonestown suicide over at Maison Hermès...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:55 AM
Monday, August 23, 2010
( 9:52 AM ) The Rat
PIZZA SOULMATES, via 1000 Awesome Things.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:52 AM
( 9:20 AM ) The Rat
If we ask a vague question, such as, What is poetry?, we expect a vague answer, such as, Poetry is the music of words, or Poetry is the linguistic correction of disorder.
—A.R. Ammons, "A Poem Is a Walk"
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:20 AM
( 9:15 AM ) The Rat
All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:15 AM
Sunday, August 22, 2010
( 4:10 PM ) The Rat
WHAT IS IT ABOUT 20-SOMETHINGS? This week's NYTM cover looks a bit onanistic to me, but I did find this part (on p. 4) interesting.
Some scientists would argue that this ambivalence reflects what is going on in the brain, which is also both grown-up and not-quite-grown-up. Neuroscientists once thought the brain stops growing shortly after puberty, but now they know it keeps maturing well into the 20s. This new understanding comes largely from a longitudinal study of brain development sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, which started following nearly 5,000 children at ages 3 to 16 (the average age at enrollment was about 10). The scientists found the children’s brains were not fully mature until at least 25. "In retrospect I wouldn’t call it shocking, but it was at the time," Jay Giedd, the director of the study, told me. "The only people who got this right were the car-rental companies."
When the N.I.M.H. study began in 1991, Giedd said he and his colleagues expected to stop when the subjects turned 16. "We figured that by 16 their bodies were pretty big physically," he said. But every time the children returned, their brains were found still to be changing. The scientists extended the end date of the study to age 18, then 20, then 22. The subjects’ brains were still changing even then. Tellingly, the most significant changes took place in the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum, the regions involved in emotional control and higher-order cognitive function...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:10 PM
( 9:59 AM ) The Rat
ARTHUR DE GREEF plays the "Wedding-Day at Troldhaugen."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:59 AM
( 4:36 AM ) The Rat
When the bus stopped suddenly
to avoid damaging
a mother and child in the road,
the younglady in the green hat sitting opposite,
was thrown across me,
and not being one to miss an opportunity
I started to make love.
At first, she resisted,
saying that it was too early in the morning,
and too soon after breakfast,
and anyway, she found me repulsive.
But when I explained
that this being a nuclearage
the world was going to end at lunchtime,
she took off her green hat,
put her busticket into her pocket
and joined in the exercise.
and there were many of them,
But when the word got around
that the world was going to end at lunchtime,
they put their pride in their pockets
with their bustickets
and made love one with the other.
And even the busconductor,
feeling left out,
climbed into the cab,
and struck up some sort of relationship with the driver.
on the bus coming home,
we were all a little embarrassed.
Especially me and the younglady in the green hat.
And we all started to say
in different ways
how hasty and foolish we had been.
But then, always having been a bitofalad,
I stood up and said it was a pity
that the world didnt nearly end every lunchtime,
and that we could always pretend.
And then it happened...
Quick asa crash
we all changed partners,
and soon the bus was aquiver
with white, mothball bodies doing naughty things.
And the next day
that the world was coming to an end at lunchtime.
It still hasnt.
Although in a way it has.
—Roger McGough, "At Lunchtime"*
*Fun though it is, Ratty would likely have passed this poem by entirely if she hadn't happened to hear it read most fetchingly (in London in '08) by the incomparable Simon Russell Beale.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:36 AM
( 4:32 AM ) The Rat
A VERY HISTORIC FAIL.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:32 AM
( 4:30 AM ) The Rat
"CLIMB EV'RY MOUNTAIN..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:30 AM
( 12:36 AM ) The Rat
Passions are merely ideas in their initial stage.
—A Hero of Our Time
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:36 AM
Saturday, August 21, 2010
( 9:55 PM ) The Rat
EVENTUALLY, THE ONION is going to get around to covering every emotional state I've ever experienced. This Wednesday, they pretty much nailed what it was like showing JS around New York, back in the year ('01-'02) I was renting a room from a permanently stoned (and yet—inexplicably—also permanently resentful!) married couple in order to make ends (barely) meet on my entry-level journalist's salary...
On a related (but cheerier) note, two real-estate-themed passages I've always liked from The Devil Wears Prada:
—Claire McMillan: not so much. Her apartment was dark and depressing and in the middle of Hell's Kitchen, and there was a junkie propped up on the doorstep when I arrived. The others weren't much better. There was a couple looking to rent out an extra room in their apartment who made indirect references to putting up with their constant and loud lovemaking; an artist in her early thirties with four cats and a fervent desire for more; a bedroom at the end of a long, dark hallway, with no windows or closets; a twenty-year-old gay guy in his self-proclaimed 'slutty stage'...
—[My mother] looked like she was trying to find the most tactful way of saying something. 'Yes, for New York, it's a great apartment. It's just hard to imagine paying so much and getting so little. You know your sister and Kyle only pay fourteen hundred a month total for their condo, and they have central air, marble bathrooms, brand-new dishwasher and washer-dryer, and three bedrooms and two bathrooms?' she pointed out, as if she were the first to make this realization. For $2,280 you could get a beachfront townhouse in L.A., a three-story condo on a tree-lined street in Chicago, a four-bedroom split-level in Miami, or a goddamn castle with a moat in Cleveland. Yes, we knew this.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:55 PM
( 4:15 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:15 PM
( 2:26 PM ) The Rat
"FOR ME, MUSIC IS ALWAYS THE LANGUAGE WHICH PERMITS ONE TO CONVERSE WITH THE BEYOND." Don't know where/when he said that, but you can definitely hear some of that conversation in the Piano Concerto (soloist: Dinu Lipatti, with the Philharmonia Orchestra, cond. von Karajan). Continues in several parts, here, here, and here. The third (Allegro vivace)—played here and here by Emil Gilels—is Ratty's favorite movement; for whatever reason, the arpeggi beginning around 2m41s in the first part, and again at 1m21s in the second part (or 2m29s, and again at 6m50s, in the Lipatti) have always turned her to jelly.
(N.B. Ratty had never seen what Gilels looks like playing... the flock-of-seagulls hair definitely adds something. See also Riccardo Muti, among many, many others!)
Nineteenth-century/"Romantic"-era music isn't generally Ratty's favorite, but speaking of Schumann, the op. 7 Toccata (played here by Horowitz—yes, believe me, you have time for this) has been one of her absolute favorite compositions ever since she stumbled upon it by accident (it was performed as an encore) at a recital at the August 1990 SYMF. There's a little about it (with YouTube clips of several other pianists' versions) here, though perhaps the comment by "petie32," on the Horowitz clip above, says it best: "D'ya think Schumann had issues with Clara; this S.O.B. is a bitch to play."
When I first heard the Toccata twenty years ago (played, btw, by a soloist whose interpretation I liked so much that I smuggled a recording device into a repeat performance he gave of it a few days later... and I still have the tape), it seemed to me to reflect my own personality better than any other musical work I'd yet encountered. Not absolutely sure I'd stand by that now—and anyway I'm not nearly as cool as it is!—but I do still identify pretty strongly with this piece. My rather more (or do I mean "even more"...?) emo 14-year-old self felt the spirit of this composition was thoroughly embodied in the single adjective "ardent"; at 34 I would add to that: "...and (arguably) pointlessly difficult." So, yeah, we're still alike.
When the work was completed in 1836, Schumann believed it was the "hardest piece ever written." It may well have been at the time as the final version of Liszt's Transcendental Etudes was not completed until 16 years later. Chopin's Opus 10 Etudes were published in 1833 but they are so pianistic that while many are extremely difficult, for the most part they tend to fall more naturally under very well trained fingers and hands.
Do not be deceived by the lack of apparent bravura of what you hear. The opening passages are right hand breakers, the stretches are uncomfortable and relentless, and unless you have tried playing this piece, you can't imagine the pain. I secretly believe playing this piece is really what done him in...
Further (brief) exegesis on the Toccata at this page, which, while noting that it "offers little relief for the pianist" and "finally fades away, as though from exhaustion," nevertheless also finds it "playful." (Hmm...) There's also a longer discussion thread—with more clips—here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:26 PM
( 10:41 AM ) The Rat
THE RIGHT KIND OF SPORTS BRA. This story clearly needs some streaming video.
Many women have long wondered whether breast movement, especially a lot of it, can affect running form. This was the first experiment to formally put that question to a practical test. What the researchers found was that breast sway did, in fact, have a significant effect on the women's running. When the runners were braless, their strides changed; they landed more heavily, with more of the impact force moving through the inside of their feet. This alteration in stride seemed to be related to "significantly higher amounts of breast movement in that direction," said Jenny White, a doctoral candidate at the University of Portsmouth and the study's lead author. As the breasts swung from side to side, so, in effect, the researchers hypothesized, did the women's body weights. The implications of this finding are disquieting. "Higher forces exerted by the foot when running indicate a higher intensity of stress for a runner," Ms. White said, "which has potential to increase physiological demand." The extra forces also, over time, can “lead to the development of stress-related injuries." Jiggle may make running both more difficult and injurious than it needs to be.
For years, scientists (most of them women) studying breast movement during sports have struggled for respect. A 2007 report about the work being done in the field of breast biomechanics at the University of Portsmouth was titled, rather defensively, "Bouncing Breasts: A Credible Area of Scientific Research." Some people (a.k.a. men) may have considered breasts to be simple things, not requiring such high-tech attention. But a raft of new studies has established, convincingly, that breasts are more mobile and less manageable than most people once believed.
Researchers at the Portsmouth lab, for instance, recently completed a series of experiments that delineate just how breasts move during activity. Instead of merely bouncing up and down, it turns out that breasts arc through a complicated figure-8 pattern when a woman runs or walks. Few sports bras are designed to accommodate breasts' side-to-side or lateral sway...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:41 AM
( 10:36 AM ) The Rat
CHURCHGOERS REACH OUT TO STRIPPERS AFTER SERVICE, BUT ALL IS NOT RESOLVED.
Donewald and Brown, who know each other but minister separately to women in adult entertainment, went to the Foxhole on Friday and Saturday to meet the strippers.
"Two girls accepted Jesus in their hearts," Brown told the congregation, eliciting affirmations and applause.
The two strippers confirmed that, but they said they won't be leaving their jobs anytime soon. "Our hearts are with Jesus, but our bodies are at the Foxhole," Gina Hughes said.
She and the three other strippers protesting today outside the church turned down seats offered to them at the service, saying their participation would be misconstrued as a victory for the church. But their criticism was cut short when something happened that surprised even club owner George.
One by one, women from the church began filing into the street, hugging the strippers and apologizing to them, leaving both sides brimming with emotion.
"The girls inside really had an impact," New Beginnings member Kim Johnson said of the sermon by Brown and Donewald. "They made me realize I need to be more compassionate"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:36 AM
( 10:35 AM ) The Rat
ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT REVEALS HOW ANCIENT GREEK STATUES REALLY LOOKED.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:35 AM
( 10:34 AM ) The Rat
Something tore past his vision, and he was a mile away before he thought how strange it was that he should have noticed it, because it had been only a clump of weeds by the road; a mile later he realized that it was stranger still: the weeds were green. Not in the middle of winter, he thought, and then he understood, surprised, that it was not winter any longer. He had been very busy in the last few weeks; he had not had time to notice. Now he saw it, hanging over the fields around him, a hint of green, like a whisper. He heard three statements in his mind, in precise succession, like interlocking gears: It's spring—I wonder if I have many left to see—I am fifty-five years old.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:34 AM
Friday, August 20, 2010
( 6:10 PM ) The Rat
RED VELVET FRIED CHICKEN. (Edited to add: Red Velvet Balls.)
Also via Consumerist: Here's ketchup and a statin with your burger, and How much would you tip this dedicated Domino's driver?
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:10 PM
( 4:50 PM ) The Rat
OLD JAPANESE POSTCARDS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:50 PM
( 4:16 PM ) The Rat
RUSSIA IN COLOR, A CENTURY AGO. Astonishing photographs via the Boston Globe (by way of IKM). Also see these vintage photographs of Europe ca. 1906.
The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time—when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Collected here are a few of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:16 PM
( 4:11 PM ) The Rat
It is the word pejorative that hurts.
My old boat goes round on a crutch
And doesn't get under way.
It's the time of the year
And the time of the day.
Perhaps it's the lunch that we had
Or the lunch that we should have had.
But I am, in any case,
A most inappropriate man
In a most unpropitious place.
Mon Dieu, hear the poet's prayer.
The romantic should be here.
The romantic should be there.
It ought to be everywhere.
But the romantic must never remain,
Mon Dieu, and must never again return.
This heavy historical sail
Through the mustiest blue of the lake
In a really vertiginous boat
Is wholly the vapidest fake....
It is least what one ever sees.
It is only the way one feels, to say
Where my spirit is I am
To say the light wind worries the sail,
To say the water is swift today,
To expunge all people and be a pupil
Of the gorgeous wheel and so to give
That slight transcendence to the dirty sail,
By light, the way one feels, sharp white,
And then rush brightly through the summer air.
—"Sailing After Lunch"
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:11 PM
( 4:06 PM ) The Rat
"What is that line from Jeremy Taylor... 'The autumn with its fruits provides disorders for us [...] and the spring brings flowers to strew our hearse.' [Pause; then, cheerfully:] Isn't that awful?"
—H. to Ratty this afternoon
*Full quote, from "Holy Living and Holy Dying": "The autumn with its fruits provides disorders for us, and the winter's cold turns them into sharp diseases, and the spring brings flowers to strew our hearse, and the summer gives green turf and brambles to bind upon our graves."
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:06 PM
( 8:33 AM ) The Rat
THIS pretty well sums up Ratty's personality.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:33 AM
( 8:27 AM ) The Rat
WE NEED a fan page for this.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:27 AM
( 8:25 AM ) The Rat
ACCEPTING THAT GOOD PARENTS MAY PLANT BAD SEEDS.
But there was one small problem with these explanations: this supposedly suboptimal couple had managed to raise two other well-adjusted and perfectly nice boys. How could they have pulled that off if they were such bad parents?
To be sure, they had a fundamentally different relationship with their difficult child. My patient would be the first to admit that she was often angry with him, something she rarely experienced with his brothers.
But that left open a fundamental question: If the young man did not suffer from any demonstrable psychiatric disorder, just what was his problem?
My answer may sound heretical, coming from a psychiatrist. After all, our bent is to see misbehavior as psychopathology that needs treatment; there is no such thing as a bad person, just a sick one.
But maybe this young man was just not a nice person...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:25 AM
( 8:21 AM ) The Rat
I dwell in Possibility—
A fairer House than Prose—
More numerous of Windows—
Of Chambers as the Cedars—
Impregnable of Eye—
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky—
Of Visitors—the fairest—
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise—
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:21 AM
Thursday, August 19, 2010
( 7:48 PM ) The Rat
"TOO BAD YOU'RE CRAZY." Best love song ever! Via ET.
And while you're over there, you might as well re-watch Cox and Combes's "Washington," because it is made of awesome.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:48 PM
( 7:10 PM ) The Rat
FOR SOME FOODS, YOU JUST HAD TO BE THERE. So true. For more on the Hatch Chile Festival, go here. Also, don't miss the closing paras. of this article!
Sometimes the traveler—like my father—is an emissary not for himself but for a hungry loved one. Josh Alexander, 27, a Defense Department analyst, lives and works in Washington. But his home state is New Mexico, where at certain times of the year the air is perfumed by the roasting of mild green chili peppers. In the late summer, the chilies are cooked at roadside stands and even in front of supermarkets, tumbling over a propane flame in a wire drum cranked by hand.
Mr. Alexander loves this signature food of his home state, and he introduces his Washington friends to it on his barbecued burgers and steaks. But, like Mr. Spivack, he will not order them via the Internet. "The thought has never really crossed my mind because it is part of home," he said of the chilies, "and to have some anonymous person deliver a piece of home isn't the same."
Instead, Mr. Alexander said, "I've used my mom as a mule." Each time she visits him she stuffs her carry-on with Ziploc bags of chilies, which Mr. Alexander freezes, or passes on to his brother in New York or to other New Mexico expatriates.
"We do a little chili exchange," he said. "It's kind of the secret New Mexico handshake."
Similarly, Molly Dunn-Hardy, 22, a Boston native who lives and attends college in Vancouver, British Columbia, is an ardent fan of the Key lime ("There's something weirdly richer than a regular lime about it," she said) and will brook no regular limes in her lime pie. So, when her father takes her grandmother from Boston to her winter residence in Florida every year, she instructs him to send her some bottles of Nellie & Joe's Famous Lime Juice. Each year, she needs three bottles or so to keep her kitchen in stock. She uses the fruit not just in pies—her father's favorite birthday treat—but in salad dressing and poultry marinade.
No Internet for Ms. Dunn-Hardy, either. With her grandmother's winter home in Florida, the state means family to her. To have her father serve as her lime courier underscores the link...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:10 PM
( 7:06 PM ) The Rat
WATERMELONS GET SMALL. Via IKM, who knows how I am about watermelons.
But in this part of Arkansas, where the soil is sandy and the summer hot enough at just the right time so the watermelons grow particularly sweet and big, that kind of change comes hard. Growing up here meant 40-pound watermelons, and even those were considered on the small side. You ate the first of them on the Fourth of July and spit your last seeds on Labor Day, when you were just about sick of watermelon anyway.
And for fun, you went and looked at the giant watermelons. They've been grown in Hope, like a sporting event, since the 1920s. The biggest compete for local honors and are still auctioned off at the annual watermelon festival here, held last weekend. The lesser ones supply the watermelon-eating and seed-spitting contests.
Hope dominates the international stage as well. The world's biggest watermelon on record, all 268 pounds and 8 ounces of it, was produced here in 2005. The man who grew it is Lloyd Bright, 67. Six world champions have come from his fields.
"When I was growing up, the guys were always talking big melons," said Mr. Bright, a retired biology teacher and school administrator who got into the big-melon game in 1973.
These giant watermelons, called Carolina Cross, grow so fast that a day or two after one shows up on the vine, it's the size of a small loaf of bread...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:06 PM
( 3:52 PM ) The Rat
STUDY: COUGAR-CUB DATING CRAZE IS A MYTH.
After examining the age preferences expressed in 22,400 singles ads on popular dating websites in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan, [Dunn] found no sizable cohort of women seeking younger men. To the contrary, the share of lionesses wanted men their own age or older. Nor did he find evidence for the proliferation of cubs: the overwhelming majority of men displayed their eons-old preference for younger women. "I do believe the cougar phenomenon is a myth and, yes, a media construct," Dunn, who specializes in human evolutionary psychology and mating behavior, told the Australian Associated Press.
But faster than Madonna can pick up a 21-year-old male model, self-identified cougars and their supporters are striking back. "I get angered by this silliness," says Valerie Gibson, the British-born, Toronto-based journalist whose best-selling 2001 book, Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men, is considered the first to identify the wave that Dunn wants to debunk. Gibson, a self-described cougar who is over 40 but won't reveal just how much over, sees in studies by investigators like Dunn—who last year presented research that men who drive expensive cars really are more attractive to women—an anti-cougar bias. "Society has always told us that the older woman who is still sexual isn't supposed to exist," she says. "We should be wrapped in a shawl baking cookies for our grandchildren and all that crap."
What's more, a 2003 study by AARP found that while a not-surprising two-thirds of American men over 40 were dating younger women, an unexpected 34% of 40-and-older women were dating younger men. And 35% said they preferred that over dating same-age or older men. That study offers a more valid picture than Dunn's, Gibson insists, because it reflects the actual dating lives of older women, as opposed to what they're socially conditioned to tell dating websites...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:52 PM
( 7:46 AM ) The Rat
NATURE: A PATHWAY TO CLEARER THINKING?
Richtel accompanied a flotilla of 5 neuroscientists during a week-long river trip on the San Juan River in southern Utah's Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in an effort to gauge how advances in information technology affect our thinking and behavior, and how nature might offer an antidote.
While no definitive conclusions were reached during the trip's short time frame, Richtel reports the participants found the experience illuminating. "Even without knowing exactly how the trip affected their brains," Richtel writes, "the scientists are prepared to recommend a little downtime as a path to uncluttered thinking."
Richtel references a University of Michigan study, released in late 2008, "that showed people can better learn after walking in the woods than after walking a busy street." As detailed in a Boston Globe report, that study reinforces past research that shows "hospital patients recover more quickly when they can see trees from their windows, and women living in public housing are better able to focus when their apartment overlooks a grassy courtyard."
States the lead author of the Michigan study, psychologist Marc Berman: "The mind is a limited machine, and we're beginning to understand the different ways that a city can exceed those limitations"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:46 AM
( 7:29 AM ) The Rat
WHAT THE GREAT RECESSION HAS DONE TO FAMILY LIFE.
This glass-half-full narrative, the popular trope that the Great Recession will ennoble us by purging us of our excesses, has, as its reference point, the Great Depression—or a certain idea of the Great Depression. After all, we've been told countless times, the Depression put an end to the libertine individualism of the flapper age: families stayed home and played Monopoly, finding strength and sustenance with one another. Missing from this rosy picture, however, historians point out, is the fact that, as Steven Mintz, a Columbia University historian puts it, "they had no choice." The atmosphere was often pretty rotten in those times of togetherness, he says, and many kids reacted by getting away from their parents as quickly as possible: "Teenagers who were unhappy with their families created a separate culture, a teenage culture, for the first time. Their family lives were unpleasant—their fathers were depressed—these kids separated themselves."
Our nostalgia for the Depression speaks volumes about how we feel not just about the past but also about our lives today. A craving for a simpler, slower, more centered life, one less consumed by the soul-emptying crush of getting and spending, runs deep within our culture right now. It was born of the boom, and not just because of the materialism of that era but also because of the work it took then to keep a family afloat, at a time of rising home prices and health care costs, frozen real wages and the pressures of an ever-widening income gap. As the recent Rockefeller report showed, for most families the miseries of the Great Recession don't represent a break from the recent past, just a significant worsening of the stresses they've been under for years and years.
That the Great Recession could then bring hope for a major recalibration—a resetting of all the clocks—is not surprising. Unfortunately, though, it's not happening in any meaningful way. The poor are getting poorer, and the rich, despite stock-market setbacks, are still comparatively rich. The most devastating losses in household wealth over the past two years have been suffered by the middle class. And families are fraying at the seams. The Pew poll showed nearly half of people who had been unemployed for more than six months saying their family relationships had become strained, and a New York Times/CBS poll of unemployed adults last winter found about 40 percent saying they believed their joblessness was causing behavioral change in their children...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:29 AM
( 7:28 AM ) The Rat
SIR FRANK KERMODE has died.
Frank was educated at Douglas High School, where he overcame undiagnosed short-sightedness and a nervous breakdown brought on by parental expectations. At Liverpool University he was convinced that he was less intellectually developed than his peers, a belief that prompted him to write his first book at 20. This was a study of Aaron Hill, the 18th-century theatre manager who introduced castrato singing to England.
On graduating in 1940, Kermode joined the Navy, spending much of the war making ever more futile attempts to lay booms off the stormy coast of Iceland. He also served as secretary to an increasingly lunatic series of superannuated captains.
One of Kermode's commanding officers attended the funeral of his first officer while drunk. He assured the widow that her husband was not really dead, otherwise he, the captain, would have been informed of the fact by the Admiralty...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:28 AM
( 7:19 AM ) The Rat
"CZECHOSLOVAKIA HAS NEVER EXISTED." Via IKM, the newest Beloit College Mindset List.
Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation. The Mindset List website at www.beloit.edu/mindset, the Mediasite webcast and its Facebook page receive more than 400,000 hits annually.
The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and five hundred cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Since "digital" has always been in the cultural DNA, they've never written in cursive and with cell phones to tell them the time, there is no need for a wrist watch. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:19 AM
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
( 1:16 PM ) The Rat
HOW AN IRISH SOLDIER SAVED HITLER'S LIFE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:16 PM
( 12:48 PM ) The Rat
HOT PROFESSORS 'HATE' THE ATTENTION--MEN, WELCOME TO LIFE AS A WOMAN.
[L]ast week, the Chronicle for Higher Education published "Professors: Hot at Their Own Risk," a story featuring many of these same male members of academe complaining that the honor we bestowed on them made it hard to be taken seriously by their colleagues.
And we quote: "Research shows that attractive people do better in life. They are treated better by teachers, doctors, even strangers, and are more likely to be hired and promoted than those who are less attractive. But in academe, being hot has a downside: Professors who are considered too good-looking can be cast by their peers as lightweights, known less for their productivity than for their pulchritude."
To that we say, with a politely raised hand, "Excuse me, professor... have you ever considered that this is what most women face every day?"
After all, as any woman knows, being pretty in the workplace is a delicate tightrope walk, one that's particularly precarious if you do it atop a nice pair of legs. You risk being underestimated if you're a babe, overlooked if you're not a looker, or—as Hillary Clinton knows—being labeled a "bitch" if you stand your ground in gender-neutral pantsuits...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:48 PM
( 7:56 AM ) The Rat
"A CROSS BETWEEN ANTHONY BOURDAIN AND MACGYVER." Man tries living on coupons for a year. This guy sounds like fun. (Link again via IKM.)
CNN. What's the most enjoyable activity you've done?
Stevens. I got a plane ride over Louisville. While we were up in the air, the pilot asked if I want to fly. He gave me a few tips on how to do it and we flew up there for 10 minutes or so. I also got to drive 20 miles in a late-model stock car. I really enjoyed the sailing lessons in Boston. The same day, I did the Segway tour of Boston...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:56 AM
( 7:52 AM ) The Rat
7 WAYS TO GET THE BEST SLEEP EVER. Via IKM.
[L]ack of shut-eye doesn't just leave you foggy the next day: Chronic, long-term insufficient sleep ups your odds of diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, even weight gain...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:52 AM
( 7:36 AM ) The Rat
"IT'S LIKE A WINDOW TO MY FUTURE REGRET." The Wait Wait staff takes on the Lady's Brunch Burger.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:36 AM
( 1:36 AM ) The Rat
BAD LISTENERS HAPPEN TO GOOD WOMEN. Via a friend. Edited to add: Here, of course, is the joke version of this phenomenon.
We walked by a man in jogging clothes who smiled at my girlfriend as if he knew her, and though she said she didn't recognize him, she felt unsettled and admitted that he reminded her of another man.
Then she told me a very painful story about something that happened to her in college. She was drinking with a group of friends, and she ended up going to bed with a man she'd only thought of as a friend prior to that night, someone she played soccer with, whom she had never considered sexually. They kissed, and then, before taking any measured steps toward intimacy, they were naked and in the middle of sudden, undiscussed sex. And it was only then that she realized that was not what she wanted.
While she talked, she held my arm and stroked it and even leaned up against me. I had my hands stuffed down into the pockets of my jeans.
I found myself walking faster, looking up toward where I thought the museum was. "We'd better hurry," I said. "Or there are going to be lines."
"What?" she said. And I said it again, about the lines and how we ought to start walking more quickly. She went cold.
I realized my mistake, and I quickly said some awkward, lukewarm things about the difficulties of being drunk in college, about how hard it is to be young and excited and at the same time understand anything about your intentions. But by then it was too late.
When we arrived at the main entrance to the museum, we didn't go inside. Instead we walked into the park and sat down on a green bench. I still had my hands in my pockets. I was looking away from her, toward the gray stone walls of the museum, which I could see through the tree branches.
She said, "If you can't listen to me, if you can't hear what I'm saying, then I don't want to be with you."
She was right. I couldn't really hear what she was saying. I didn't want to. Her story was painful and scary. It was destroying the image I had of her as a smart, thoughtful, driven woman I wanted to marry...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:36 AM
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
( 8:40 AM ) The Rat
He took her hand. "I'm sorry. I just... I get so sick of the We People."
"The We People. They never say I. They say 'We're going to Hawaii after Christmas' or 'We're taking the dog to get his shots.' They wallow in the first person plural, because they remember how shitty it was to be a first person singular."
—Tales of the City
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:40 AM
Monday, August 16, 2010
( 1:34 AM ) The Rat
What matters in literature in the end is surely the idiosyncratic, the individual, the flavor or the color of a particular human suffering.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:34 AM
Sunday, August 15, 2010
( 5:52 PM ) The Rat
I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring.
—last words, attrib. Richard Feynman
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:52 PM
( 5:45 PM ) The Rat
Did I say love? Wash my mouth out with soap. Dean said this great thing last night, we were talking about drama, and Dean quotes this line, it goes, men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love. And I'm like, absolutely. It's from Shakespeare, a girl called Rosalind says it. Dean says I remind him of Rosalind, says she's a great character. So maybe I'll check out this play, see if it's got a monologue I can use.
Anyway... I wonder sometimes if it would have lasted with Alex if he hadn't fucked me over. Then I say—what are you, soft in the head? It never lasts. I haven't seen one example yet. But there's still this ideal in your head, you know, like a vision of a place you've never visited, but that you've dreamed about or seen in a movie you've forgotten the title of, and you know you'd recognize it immediately if you ever saw it in real life. It would be like going home, tired and whipped after a really long time on the road, if home was like it's supposed to be, instead of the disaster area it actually is.
—Story of My Life
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:45 PM
( 3:43 PM ) The Rat
JETBLUE FLIGHT ATTENDANT WANTS HIS OLD JOB BACK. Via IKM.
Whether Slater can regain his wings was unclear. "We're conducting an internal investigation regarding his status as an employee at JetBlue," said airline spokeswoman Jenny Dervin, who added that Slater has been removed from duty pending the outcome of that internal inquiry.
She described Slater's behavior as unlike that of the New York-based airline's other 2,300 flight attendants. "I would say this is highly unique," she said.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:43 PM
Saturday, August 14, 2010
( 12:55 PM ) The Rat
We can read as far into it as our age and understanding allow.
—Roger Shattuck, of the Recherche
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:55 PM
( 4:59 AM ) The Rat
TWO OF RATTY'S FAVORITE POSTERS from "Art for All: British Posters for Transport," showing at the British Art Center through Sunday: Ernest Michael Dinkel's Visit the Empire and Dorrit Dekk's We Londoners.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:59 AM
( 4:56 AM ) The Rat
"TEST TRAVELING ON YOUR OWN. BEFORE YOU TAKE A BIG TRIP SOLO, DRIVE 20 MILES OUTSIDE YOUR HOME ZONE AND GO HAVE LUNCH OR SEE A MOVIE." This is kind of a hilariously bizarre read, and reminded me of those condescending/chauvinist ads from the '50s and '60s (e.g., this one, for all I'm otherwise a fan of Doyle Dane Bernach's historic VW campaign... which btw is still going strong). Though in the case of this article, I can't really blame the author so much as what's evidently a prevailing cultural assumption, if the figures given about attitudes to solo travel are correct—and given how disbelievingly some people look at you when you assure them that yes, you did indeed go on that trip alone, meaning without a companion, meaning all by yourself (and also given how often one sees "Tips for First-Time Solo Travelers"-type articles), I'm sure they are. Not that traveling with a companion isn't enjoyable too, but there are pleasures to traveling by yourself that simply can't be had if you're with someone—or as LT observed to me years ago: When you travel accompanied, the trip is about your relationship to the other person; it's only when you travel alone that you can actually see the place.
Felt similarly disconcerted a few days earlier, for the same reason, reading this list. But then I was, at most, eight the first time I flew alone internationally (with layovers in third-country cities—which, when you're eight, is awesome... you might just be finding your way to an ice-cream soda at Narita but it will feel as much of an adventure as if you'd been trekking through the remotest jungles of Borneo), and had just turned 13 the first time I flew solo to somewhere I'd never been before at all (and found my way from the airport to my destination [about 60 miles] without resorting to the expensive option of getting a cab or shuttle); in my family, neither thing was felt to be a big deal. Yes, of course parents should make sure their children are safe (and mine did—none of the places I was in were dangerous for a child with common sense) and look out for them—but so many people take that way too far... which may explain, e.g., the acquaintance of mine who left a backpack in a cab in D.C. in his 20s and whose parents, IN UPSTATE NEW YORK, freaked out and tried to find it for him. Among the hundreds, if not thousands, of things I'll never understand about non-first-generation Americans, this insistence on teaching children the opposite of self-reliance is at or near the top of the list. Which came first—the needy, entitled children or their helicopter parents? You tell me.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:56 AM
( 4:55 AM ) The Rat
FLIGHT ATTENDANT JOINS IN MID-AIR PILLOW FIGHT, via JM. Worth it principally for this sentence:
A Lufthansa spokeswoman told AOL Travel News: "It's an example of passengers enjoying themselves in economy class. And it shows we still offer pillows to our passengers in economy class."
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:55 AM
( 4:54 AM ) The Rat
Then he discovered that Shama had made preparations for him as well. His clothes had been washed and darned; and he was moved, though not surprised, to find on the kitchen shelf little squares of shop-paper on which, in her Mission-school script that always deteriorated after the first two or three lines, Shama had pencilled recipes for the simplest meals, writing with a disregard for grammar and punctuation which he found touching. How quaint, too, to find phrases he had only heard her speak committed to paper in this handwriting! In her instructions for the boiling of rice, for example, she told him to "throw in just a little pinch of salt"—he could see her bunching her long fingers—and to use "the blue enamel pot without the handle." How often, crouched before the chulha fire, she had said to him, "Just hand me the blue pot without the handle."
—A House for Mr. Biswas
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:54 AM
Friday, August 13, 2010
( 9:25 AM ) The Rat
TERRIFIC FIRST READER COMMENT on this Consumerist thread.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:25 AM
Thursday, August 12, 2010
( 11:08 AM ) The Rat
CONSUMERS FIND WAYS TO SPEND LESS AND FIND HAPPINESS.
Inspired by books and blog entries about living simply, Ms. Strobel and her husband, Logan Smith, both 31, began donating some of their belongings to charity. As the months passed, out went stacks of sweaters, shoes, books, pots and pans, even the television after a trial separation during which it was relegated to a closet. Eventually, they got rid of their cars, too. Emboldened by a Web site that challenges consumers to live with just 100 personal items, Ms. Strobel winnowed down her wardrobe and toiletries to precisely that number.
Her mother called her crazy.
Today, three years after Ms. Strobel and Mr. Smith began downsizing, they live in Portland, Ore., in a spare, 400-square-foot studio with a nice-sized kitchen. Mr. Smith is completing a doctorate in physiology; Ms. Strobel happily works from home as a Web designer and freelance writer. She owns four plates, three pairs of shoes and two pots. With Mr. Smith in his final weeks of school, Ms. Strobel's income of about $24,000 a year covers their bills. They are still car-free but have bikes. One other thing they no longer have: $30,000 of debt.
Ms. Strobel's mother is impressed. Now the couple have money to travel and to contribute to the education funds of nieces and nephews. And because their debt is paid off, Ms. Strobel works fewer hours, giving her time to be outdoors, and to volunteer. [...]
Current research suggests that, unlike consumption of material goods, spending on leisure and services typically strengthens social bonds, which in turn helps amplify happiness. [...] One reason that paying for experiences gives us longer-lasting happiness is that we can reminisce about them, researchers say. That’s true for even the most middling of experiences. That trip to Rome during which you waited in endless lines, broke your camera and argued with your spouse will typically be airbrushed with "rosy recollection," says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:08 AM
( 11:06 AM ) The Rat
SOME DAYS, I f---in' love this country.
For the last four years, the pastor at New Beginnings has led a protest outside the Foxhole every weekend. Beyond just voicing their disapproval of the strip joint, the church members also videotape the license plates of the bar's patrons and then post the info online.
So the crew at the Foxhole decided to give the churchgoers a taste of their own medicine, sitting outside the church in skimpy outfits and cooling each other down with Super Soakers as they grilled up burgers...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:06 AM
( 8:26 AM ) The Rat
EVERY DAY IS METAPHOR DAY. From a note from EB last night: "I was supposed to go watch a meteor shower tonight for a friend's birthday (yes, we are big dorks), but it got sort of clouded/rained out. But another friend just texted me to ask how it was, and he wrote: 'How was the metaphor shower?'"
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:26 AM
( 8:16 AM ) The Rat
I WANT A MONSTER TO BE MY FRIEND, via ET. My only regret about watching the unbelievable awesomeness that is this video is that it's made me somewhat homesick for old times drinking with TA (a.k.a. Gossamer).
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:16 AM
( 8:00 AM ) The Rat
No soldiers in the scenery,
No thoughts of people now dead,
As they were fifty years ago,
Young and living in a pure air,
Young and walking in the sunshine,
Bending in blue dresses to touch something,
Today the mind is not part of the weather.
Today the air is clear of everything.
It has no knowledge except of nothingness
And it flows over us without meanings,
As if none of us had ever been here before
And are not now: in this shallow spectacle,
This invisible activity, this sense.
—"A Clear Day and No Memories" (1954)
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:00 AM
( 7:58 AM ) The Rat
Even if the husband lives two hundred fucking years, he's never going to be able to discover his wife's real nature. I mean, l... I might be able to comprehend the universe, but—I'll never discover the truth about you. Never.
—Last Tango in Paris*
*Currently either tied or slightly ahead of this as Ratty's favorite movie. Yeah... apparently I'm into love stories.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:58 AM
( 7:56 AM ) The Rat
She was the first person to whom he opened his lips after receiving the news of his father's death.
"It has killed him!" he said.
He had walked straight out of town with the news, straight out before him in the noonday sun on the white road, and his feet had brought him face to face with her in the hall of the ruined palazzo, a room magnificent and naked, with here and there a long strip of damask, black with damp and age, hanging down on a bare panel of the wall. It was furnished with exactly one gilt armchair, with a broken back, and an octagon columnar stand bearing a heavy marble vase ornamented with sculptured masks and garlands of flowers, and cracked from top to bottom. Charles Gould was dusty with the white dust of the road lying on his boots, on his shoulders, on his cap with two peaks. Water dripped from under it all over his face, and he grasped a thick oaken cudgel in his bare right hand.
She went very pale under the roses of her big straw hat, gloved, swinging a clear sunshade, caught just as she was going out to meet him at the bottom of the hill, where three poplars stand near the wall of a vineyard.
"It has killed him!" he repeated. "He ought to have had many years yet. We are a long-lived family."
She was too startled to say anything; he was contemplating with a penetrating and motionless stare the cracked marble urn as though he had resolved to fix its shape for ever in his memory. It was only when, turning suddenly to her, he blurted out twice, "I've come to you—I've come straight to you—," without being able to finish his phrase, that the great pitifulness of that lonely and tormented death in Costaguana came to her with the full force of its misery. He caught hold of her hand, raised it to his lips, and at that she dropped her parasol to pat him on the cheek, murmured "Poor boy," and began to dry her eyes under the downward curve of her hat-brim, very small in her simple, white frock, almost like a lost child crying in the degraded grandeur of the noble hall, while he stood by her, again perfectly motionless in the contemplation of the marble urn.
Afterwards they went out for a long walk, which was silent till he exclaimed suddenly—
"Yes. But if he had only grappled with it in a proper way!"
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:56 AM
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
( 7:15 PM ) The Rat
"THE PRIMACY OF AMERICA'S MOST POPULAR THREESOME, TWO DUDES AND AN XBOX, IS SAFE." The Big Lies People Tell in Online Dating = hysterical.
These bold colors contain a subtle message: if you're a young guy and don't make much money, cool. If you're 23 or older and don't make much money, go die in a fire.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:15 PM
( 6:59 PM ) The Rat
THIS is fun (for "Jenny"'s identity, go here).
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 PM
( 3:48 PM ) The Rat
VIA MLY (from this).
In 1883, the year time was standardized, Keith conceived "continuous vaudeville." Imagine a meringue pie smashing a human face—forever.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:48 PM
( 3:25 PM ) The Rat
HEH! Via IKM, of course.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:25 PM
( 3:04 PM ) The Rat
ADDICTIVE INTERNET USE TIED TO DEPRESSION IN TEENS. Then again, how accurate is a study about pathological behavior going to be if the subjects are all Chinese?
Since the 1990s, uncontrolled or unreasonable Internet use has been identified as a problem with signs similar to other addictions, researchers say. Pathological Internet use has been linked with relationship problems, health problems, aggressive behavior and other psychiatric symptoms, they added.
"Parents should be vigilant about their children's online behavior," said lead researcher Lawrence T. Lam, from the School of Medicine, Sydney, and the University of Notre Dame Australia. "Should there be any concern about young people involving problematic Internet-use behavior, professional help should be sought immediately."
This sort of behavior may be a manifestation of some underlying problems that are more insidious, Lam said.
"Given the results obtained from the study, even mentally healthy young people may succumb to depression after a long exposure of problematic use of the Internet. The mental health consequences of problematic Internet use for those who have already had a history of psychological or psychiatric problems would be more damaging," he said...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:04 PM
( 10:58 AM ) The Rat
THE END OF FORGETTING, from a recent-ish NYTM.
In practice, however, self-governing communities like Wikipedia—or algorithmically self-correcting systems like Google—often leave people feeling misrepresented and burned. Those who think that their online reputations have been unfairly tarnished by an isolated incident or two now have a practical option: consulting a firm like ReputationDefender, which promises to clean up your online image. ReputationDefender was founded by Michael Fertik, a Harvard Law School graduate who was troubled by the idea of young people being forever tainted online by their youthful indiscretions. "I was seeing articles about the 'Lord of the Flies' behavior that all of us engage in at that age," he told me, "and it felt un-American that when the conduct was online, it could have permanent effects on the speaker and the victim. The right to new beginnings and the right to self-definition have always been among the most beautiful American ideals."
ReputationDefender, which has customers in more than 100 countries, is the most successful of the handful of reputation-related start-ups that have been growing rapidly after the privacy concerns raised by Facebook and Google. (ReputationDefender recently raised $15 million in new venture capital.) For a fee, the company will monitor your online reputation, contacting Web sites individually and asking them to take down offending items. In addition, with the help of the kind of search-optimization technology that businesses use to raise their Google profiles, ReputationDefender can bombard the Web with positive or neutral information about its customers, either creating new Web pages or by multiplying links to existing ones to ensure they show up at the top of any Google search. (Services begin from $10 a month to $1,000 a year; for challenging cases, the price can rise into the tens of thousands.) By automatically raising the Google ranks of the positive links, ReputationDefender pushes the negative links to the back pages of a Google search, where they're harder to find. "We're hearing stories of employers increasingly asking candidates to open up Facebook pages in front of them during job interviews," Fertik told me. "Our customers include parents whose kids have talked about them on the Internet—'Mom didn't get the raise'; 'Dad got fired'; 'Mom and Dad are fighting a lot, and I'm worried they'll get a divorce'"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:58 AM
( 10:57 AM ) The Rat
By temperament, which is the real law of God, many men are goats and can't help committing adultery when they get a chance; whereas there are numbers of men who, by temperament, can keep their purity and let an opportunity go by if the woman lacks in attractiveness.
—Twain, Letters from the Earth
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:57 AM
( 2:20 AM ) The Rat
"THERE IS SOMETHING VAGUELY OBSCENE ABOUT THAT. I'LL HAVE A DOZEN." Donut Frank, via This Is Why You're Fat.
Also see the Tornado Potato, the Meat Tank, and the Sexy S'more.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:20 AM
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
( 10:14 PM ) The Rat
HUMAN BRAINS HAVE 'LIFE OF BRIAN' MECHANISM.
Shihui Han of Peking University, China, found activity in brain regions that normally deal with negative emotions and self-awareness are dampened when we process ideas about death...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:14 PM
( 9:49 PM ) The Rat
HIDING FILES IN FLICKR PICS WILL FOOL WEB CENSORS.
Life is about to become more difficult for countries trying to censor access to foreign websites. A system dubbed Collage will allow users in these countries to download stories from blocked sites while visiting seemingly uncontroversial sites such as Flickr.
Collage relies on a well-established technique known as digital steganography, in which an image file is changed to encode the hidden message without obviously affecting the appearance of the image...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:49 PM
( 8:40 PM ) The Rat
"JOY STARTED WITH A BULL AND A HEIFER SHE NAMED BOND AND MONEYPENNY... Serious Eats on yak testicles, via ET. Ratty once consumed a largeish portion of Rocky Mountain oysters, in part because she didn't think the people serving them had actually been serious when they explained what they were. (Also, by the time she realized they were serious, it seemed unsporting not to finish, the more so as Ratty had herself gelded and branded a few calves just a few days earlier.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:40 PM
( 3:11 PM ) The Rat
THEY'RE DOING COSÌ AT COVENT GARDEN next month—with the incomparable Sir Thomas Allen as Don Alfonso—and I am very much not in London. Weeping seems an eminently legitimate response to this news.
There's a nifty 2009 Times profile of Sir Thomas (which I may have posted before) here.
Allen has been cited by the playwright Lee Hall (though they’ve never met) as the inspiration for Billy Elliot. He was delighted. "I thought, I've really made it now.” Allen's family background is quite unlike Billy's, but they did live in a pit village, and the very idea that an opera singer should emerge from Seaham Harbour was as remarkable as that of a lad leaping out of the collieries to dance Swan Lake.
"I did get a bit of stick for singing in the church choir, from boys from the other side of the tracks. But it wasn't as bad as for Billy. The great thing about my school was that you could play rugby" (full back and on the right wing) "and sing in the choir as well." He took organ lessons, and listening to Evensong in Durham Cathedral was a Damascene moment.
"Get away from here," the headmaster of the Robert Richardson Grammar School at Ryhope advised, steering his bright pupils away from Durham University (now known as Chelsea-on-Wear) and urging them farther afield. Allen was in the science stream and was set to go to St Andrews to read medicine, but a different future materialised after he sang Simon the Cellarer in a school concert. His physics master, Denis Weatherley, who ran the choir, coached him towards a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in 1964.
Specialising in lieder and oratorio, Allen's aim was to be Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Peter Pears spotted his potential in a 1966 BBC competition in York; he was invited to do a masterclass on TV, and went to Benjamin Britten and Pears’s North London house, near Pentonville prison, "to work on some Bach." Later they worked on Albert Herring, shortly before Britten died.
Allen's Covent Garden debut was in 1971, as Donald in Billy Budd. His next role will be his 50th there: he plays Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier for the first time...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:11 PM
( 3:10 PM ) The Rat
METEOR SHOWER GUIDE FOR 2010.
The 2010 Perseid meteor shower—August's famous 'shooting stars'—will peak in this coming week, on the mornings of August 12 and 13...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:10 PM
( 10:21 AM ) The Rat
Not that Dean is exactly the hairy barbarian himself. I mean, it seems like his idea of wild is argyle socks. But it's okay, I like straight guys, I'd never go out with anybody who's as irresponsible as me. Most of the guys I know have really high-powered jobs and make up for lost time when they're not in the office. The Berserk After Work Club. I seem to attract them in a big way, all these boys in Paul Stuart suits with six-figure salaries and hellfire on a dimmer switch in their eyes.
—Story of My Life
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:21 AM