The Rat
Monday, May 31, 2010
      ( 4:43 PM ) The Rat  
THE GEOTAGGERS' WORLD ATLAS ON FLICKR (found via A Daily Dose of Architecture). Wish these were labeled so you didn't have to work through the whole slideshow... That said, I clicked on a thumbnail at random and it happened to be Taipei!

Also check out the ubercool Scene to be Believed: California as the World, over at Strange Maps.

Venice, Italy is adequately rendered by the area not too far from Venice, California. Holland, incredibly, is located a bit more to LA's south, while the Channel Islands have stood in the South Sea Islands' stead. Further south are Long Island Sound, the Malay Coast and, just north of San Diego, again, Spain...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:43 PM

      ( 4:33 PM ) The Rat  

The 11th century Château de Vitré showcases fairy tale towers and has historically proven to be one of the most powerful castles in history having not been occupied during the Hundred Years War...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:33 PM

      ( 4:27 PM ) The Rat  
BTW, YES, I would like to think the sender of that "cat on LSD on YouTube" text was at some level referencing Ivan in "The Grand Inquisitor"...

"There is, for example, one little monastery poem (from the Greek, of course): 'The Mother of God visits the Torments'... The Mother of God visits hell and the Archangel Michael guides her through 'the torments.' She sees sinners and their sufferings. Among them, by the way, she sees a most amusing class of sinners in a burning lake: some of them sink so far down into the lake that they can no longer come up again, and 'these God forgets'—an expression of extraordinary depth and force. And so the Mother of God, shocked and weeping, falls before the throne of God and asks pardon for everyone in hell, everyone she has seen there, without distinction. Her conversation with God is immensely interesting. She pleads, she won't go away, and when God points out to her the nail-pierced hands and feet of her Son, and asks: 'How can I forgive His tormentors?' she bids all the saints, all the martyrs, all the angels and archangels to fall down together with her and plead for the pardon of all without discrimination..."

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:27 PM

      ( 9:49 AM ) The Rat  

Yeah the sex got weird after I said "who's your daddy?" and she actually moaned her dads name.

giving him head while hes talking to his fiancee on the phone about inviting me to their wedding.... im invited. should i go or would that be wrong?

My own mom unfriended me on Facebook.

i woke up to 115 texts from him all saying "do you love me??"

I was the only open register tonight and I just sold condoms and chocolate frosting to the ex..

please come get me his dick is out. i'm sitting on his couch and his dick is out. come now

Is it standard protocol to defriend someone after they give you chlamydia?

When I got to his place, he served wine and cheese and made me sit on the balcony while he read his poetry to me. He cockblocked himself

so i was sitting on this guys lap, and we were flirting and everything right.. well his phone kept ringing, turns out it was his pregnant wife... she had gone into labor..

wtf he couldnt undo my bra, i asked him if it was his first time and he said "with a girl? yeah"

How many times do you have to sleep with a guy before you get him to kiss you???

Honestly dude, i think you should ignore the restraining order if you really love her.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:49 AM

      ( 9:47 AM ) The Rat  
"I FELL OFF THE BED IN THE MIDDLE OF IT, AND HE YELLED '5 SECOND RULE' AND KEPT FUCKING ME. I THINK IM IN LOVE." Spent way too much time yesterday reading the "Best Nights of all Time" section from Texts from Last Night (directed to the site by ET, of course).

you came home covered in oatmeal wearing a tutu holding a stolen wrotting pumpkin and "its a girl" balloons tied around your neck. you were whispering the lyrics to aaron carters 'aarons party'. i think the real question was what DIDNT you drink last night

Last night, my friend changed all my contacts in my phone. I have been texted by Batman, Donatello, and Hermione Granger. I have no idea who they are, and it doesn't upset me at all.

Going to spend my cab money on more shots and just take the ambulance home

Yep you got cut off last night after a stripper bent over in front of you and you screamed very loudly 'I can see your soul from here'

It was at that point the crowd that gathered realized i wasn't getting arrested, and passed the sobriety tests. I got a standing ovation from 25 strangers

I want to do you till i cant cum anymore. Till all i get is a little flag that says "bang".

After you pregamed and were plastered you saw the cop was parked illegally so you gave him a citizens arrest

Maybe we should try and tone it down a notch. The neighbors changed the name of their wifi network to "i can hear you having sex".

Just found out I slapped a vegan in the face with meat last night.

Fantastic night. drank beer from a wine bottle, danced on a van, chased a llama, and fell from a fence

Instead of having sex, we spent the entire night making pillow forts and have sword fights. I think I'm in love

Dude im not sure whos apartment i woke up in but i just showered here and their shampoo in phenomenal

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:47 AM

      ( 9:39 AM ) The Rat  

There's a lot more that we don't know, but makes for a fascinating Mad Lib: Why? (Fun!); Where does it go? (To a terror dungeon!); When will it be finished? (In time for the rest of the world to fall into unimaginable chaos and destruction!); What will the cars look like? (The heads of defunct Disney Characters!)

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:39 AM

      ( 9:38 AM ) The Rat  

Previous research suggests that our problem-solving abilities change depending on our states of mind and that love—a broad, long-term emotion—triggers global brain processing, a state in which we see the big picture, make broad associations and connect disparate ideas. Sex, on the other hand—more specific and here and now—initiates more local processing, in which the brain zooms in and focuses on details. Researchers at the University of Amsterdam, University of Groningen and Jacobs University Bremen wondered whether thinking about love might actually help people perform better on creative tasks, whereas imagining sex might prime people to do better on tasks requiring analytical thinking...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:38 AM

      ( 9:25 AM ) The Rat  
10 CONTROVERSIAL BILLBOARDS. While I'm not a fan of the others, the Bergemann & Sons one is quite clever—though perhaps not the most effective exercise in brand-imaging...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:25 AM

      ( 9:21 AM ) The Rat  
IN E-MAIL AGE, STILL NOTHING LIKE A HANDWRITTEN LETTER. Uncontroversial, but one or two good anecdotes in here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:21 AM

      ( 9:19 AM ) The Rat  
I'm tired and nervous and I'm in America. Here you don't know that you live.
—Greta Garbo

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:19 AM

Sunday, May 30, 2010
      ( 11:07 AM ) The Rat  
BAGPIPES SCARE OFF SEWER RATS. Heard about this via Wait Wait.

The Third Man tours—which walk the sewers made famous in Orson Welles's cult film—were closed down after health and safety chiefs said the risk of rat bites was too great.

Now they're back on after organisers proved how the squeal of Scottish bagpipes from a kilted piper send the rats scurrying for cover...

From the same source: German robbers miscalculate explosive charge and level local bank.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:07 AM

      ( 11:05 AM ) The Rat  
THIS FAILBOOK POST (whether it's real or not) instantly recalled Richardson's "writing to the moment" (scroll down to "Epistolary")—which was actually kind of heartening, inasmuch as it would seem to suggest that maybe Ratty actually is supposed to be in grad school...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:05 AM

      ( 9:15 AM ) The Rat  
6 PEOPLE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF WHO PROBABLY SAVED YOUR LIFE. Via Cracked. Nos. 5 and 3, both extremely awesome, were new to me; no. 1 wasn't, but remains awesome anyway.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:15 AM

      ( 8:57 AM ) The Rat  
C'MON HOUDINI. From back in March; not sure how I could have missed it.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:57 AM

      ( 8:53 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:53 AM

      ( 8:51 AM ) The Rat  
25 HORRIBLY SEXIST VINTAGE ADS. Again via Consumerist, but so good it really deserved its own listing. "Sabrina" is definitely my favorite, with the Palmolive one perhaps second.

Edited to add: I'd thought they already knew about Freud in 1968?!

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:51 AM

      ( 8:31 AM ) The Rat  
"BECAUSE THERE IS AN OFF CHANCE THAT YOU MAY BE A MORON." On why you should buy generic drugs.

Also via Consumerist: Poor people spend 9% of income on lottery tickets and A 26-page brownie recipe? Only at the Pentagon.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:31 AM

      ( 8:09 AM ) The Rat  

WD-40 is an industrial lubricant and isn't meant to be used on skin. It contains chemicals and you could burn or badly irritate the skin on your penis by masturbating with WD-40.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:09 AM

      ( 8:07 AM ) The Rat  
As I lay down I turned on the radio set standing on the wine crate beside the bed. The names of cities and radio stations with which I used to link the most exotic ideas of my childhood appeared on its round illuminated dial—Monte Ceneri, Rome, Ljubljana, Stockholm, Beromunster, Hilversum, Prague, and others besides. I turned the volume down very low and listened to a language I did not understand drifting in the air from a great distance: a female voice, which was sometimes lost in the ether, but then emerged again and mingled with the performance of two careful hands moving in some place unknown to me, over the keyboard of a Bosendorfer or Pleyel and playing certain musical passages, I think from the Well Tempered Clavier, which accompanied me far into the realms of slumber. When I woke in the morning only a faint crackle and hiss was coming from the narrow brass mesh over the loudspeaker. Soon afterwards, when I mentioned the mysterious radio at breakfast, Austerlitz told me he had always imagined that the voices moving through the air after the onset of darkness, only a few of which we could catch, had a life of their own, like bats, and shunned the light of day...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:07 AM

Saturday, May 29, 2010
      ( 7:34 PM ) The Rat  

At 2:30 a.m. Monday, the alarm sounded at Farber's station house, causing the despondent firefighter to emerge from a deep malaise and, though still absorbed by the sense of dread that has preoccupied him since youth, respond promptly to the request for assistance at the home of Stanley and Joyce Morgenstern.

According to department officials, Farber, a 13-year veteran of Ladder Company 8, climbed through a kitchen window and, despite carrying with him a heavy burden of alienation, managed to see all three members of the family to safety...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:34 PM

      ( 9:26 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:26 AM

      ( 9:23 AM ) The Rat  
SECRET SOCIETY FOR CREATIVE PHILANTHROPY, from February. Much of this is, you know, yawn, but I liked the playground idea.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:23 AM

      ( 9:19 AM ) The Rat  
GREAT LITERATURE RETITLED TO BOOST WEBSITE TRAFFIC, via ET. As with so much from McSweeney's, this is better in concept than in execution. That said, the last one is pretty good.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:19 AM

      ( 9:17 AM ) The Rat  
TODAY'S COLLEGE STUDENTS LACK EMPATHY. Hmm. (Wish they'd had more on the methodology used in this.)

[T]oday's students scored 40 percent lower on a measure of empathy than their elders did.

The findings are based on a review of 72 studies of 14,000 American college students overall conducted between 1979 and 2009.

"We found the biggest drop in empathy after the year 2000," said Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The study was presented this week at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Boston...

Also check out Skin color affects ability to empathize with pain, via IKM. (Admittedly, Ratty is a sucker for anything to do with mirror neurons.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:17 AM

      ( 9:11 AM ) The Rat  
Pink is the navy blue of India.
Diana Vreeland

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:11 AM

Friday, May 28, 2010
      ( 2:01 PM ) The Rat  
BUT WHERE WOULD I PUT THE REST OF MY BOOKS? (Also, Ratty clearly wouldn't need design features to keep the deer away... just her old M16.) This and the bacteria link are both via Treehugger.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:01 PM

      ( 1:53 PM ) The Rat  

The Viennese ranked number one among 221 cities surveyed by Mercer, a London-based investment services company owned by Marsh and McLennan Cos. Vienna was followed closely by two Swiss cities: Zurich and Geneva.

The survey considered such matters as political stability, crime, economy, personal freedom, health services, sewage, air pollution, schools, public utilities, transportation, housing and climate. It also took into account the cities' restaurants, theaters, sports, availability of consumer goods and record of natural disasters...

But seriously, how could the city that contains this rank anywhere else??

Mysterious thing, acoustics. Despite decades of scientific research and the development of arcane mathematical models to determine how to produce the best-sounding space for live classical music, no one can really predict how a new concert hall will sound in the flesh. But here in Vienna, I think I've found an answer: instead of hard scientific data, what you need is about 50 life-size, gilded, topless female sculptures. [...]

All of this decoration you might think incidental to the job of music-making for which the hall was designed. But it's not. Acousticians have proved that this riot of detailing is a key part of the Musikverein's brilliance. Because the sound bounces off so many different planes and angles, from the curve of a golden breast to the sweep of an alabaster swan's-neck, it becomes warmer and richer, creating the hall's sonic radiance. Wolfram Christ, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra's principal viola, told me that the hall itself is an instrument, an extension of the resonating chamber of his viola.

What was architectural fluke in 1870—Hansen was no scientist—has become acoustical hard fact. When you visit many recent halls, including Kings Place in London, you'll notice that the modernist austerity of their wooden or plaster interiors is flecked with micro-detailing, patterns of lumps and bumps that help diffuse the sound. The 19th century's sensual sculptures have become the 21st century's abstract forms.

That's a transformation that reveals the ideals that we think a concert hall should project today: we don't want anything to distract from a quasi-religious focus on the music and the performers. I'm not sure though. In Vienna, they keep the lights up the whole way through the concert, as if the interior of the hall were part of the performance. It works, as well: not only does the heightened aesthetic of the Goldener Saal imprint itself on your imagination, there's nothing like a bit of neoclassical nudity to help you through the longueurs of a late-romantic symphony.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:53 PM

      ( 1:51 PM ) The Rat  

Exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behavior according to research presented today at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:51 PM

      ( 1:43 PM ) The Rat  
The black dress seemed excessively revealing—because it was astonishing to discover that the lines of her shoulder were fragile and beautiful, and that the diamond band on the wrist of her naked arm gave her the most feminine of all aspects: the look of being chained.
Atlas Shrugged (perh. the only line Rand ever wrote that I still like, two decades on?)

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:43 PM

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
      ( 1:16 PM ) The Rat  

[C]hildren with autism named objects without shadows slightly faster than neurotypical children, but were more than 10 per cent slower at naming objects with shadows. "The presence of shadows dramatically affects the ability of autistic individuals to recognise visual objects," says Castiello.

Children without autism link objects and their shadows in a way that improves object recognition, says Castiello. When they were shown pictures with shadows that didn't match the objects, for example a round vase with a triangular shadow, it took them 30 milliseconds longer to name the object.

For children with autism, however, it made little difference whether the shadows matched the objects or not; object recognition was 40 milliseconds slower for any kind of shadow. Castiello concludes that shadows appear to autistic children as nothing more than "noisy" distractions.

Uta Frith, a developmental psychologist specialising in autism at University College London, calls the results "striking." She says that they support a theory that people with autism don't use an object's context—in this case its shadow—to help interpret raw visual data...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:16 PM

      ( 1:14 PM ) The Rat  

Nectocaris pteryx was thought to be either an arthropod or a chordate, but its strange body meant no one could be sure...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:14 PM

      ( 1:08 PM ) The Rat  

The Pac-Man game Google put on its home page gobbled up almost five million hours of work time, suggests a study...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:08 PM

      ( 1:04 PM ) The Rat  

The Rat Lamp, as the name suggests, is a cluster of rats (stuffed, thankfully) clawing fiendishly to a bulb as if it were the Pied Piper of Hamelin. It's probably the sickest and oddly, one of the prettiest, objects to debut at New York Design Week...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:04 PM

      ( 1:03 PM ) The Rat  

It has survived West Bengal's monsoons, being rammed by a barge and a daily flow of some 60,000 vehicles. Now the engineers who maintain the historic Howrah bridge over the Hooghly river in Kolkata say a new enemy has appeared: the half-chewed mouthfuls of betel leaf, areca nut and slaked lime spat out by pedestrians.

Key struts that support the girders of the bridge—one of the biggest such cantilever structures in the world—have already lost half their protective metal casing to the acids contained in paan, as the mixture is known, engineers say...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:03 PM

Monday, May 24, 2010
      ( 12:24 PM ) The Rat  
IT'S THINGS LIKE THIS that make me rather doubt the South will even rise again after lunch, let alone in the general scheme of things.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:24 PM

      ( 12:19 PM ) The Rat  
SO YOU KNOW that video that went viral last week, with the scantily-clad female performing CPR on another, equally-scantily-clad female? Turns out it was a lingerie ad*. Who knew (or—let's be honest—cared)?? (Though I must say, "Canadian lingerie" just isn't a phrase that exactly trips off the tongue.)

Prepare yourself. Another video... Super Sexy Abdominal Thrusts, is coming out in June!

*Probably about as SFW as the description above suggests.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:19 PM

      ( 11:45 AM ) The Rat  
STARBUCKS SPONSORS CONTEST TO CREATE GREEN COFFEE CUPS. Greenwashing at its finest, no doubt, but Ratty's a sucker for attempts to find design solutions to reduce waste. (It's really the main reason I read Treehugger.)

Go here and scroll down for some of the concepts that have been submitted so far.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:45 AM

      ( 11:44 AM ) The Rat  
"IF TEARS COULD BE HEARD, THEY WOULD SOUND LIKE THESE PRELUDES" (attrib. Herman Finck). One of life's little luxuries = listening to sad* music when you're happy. Here's Horowitz playing the Op. 28, No. 15 ("Raindrop") prelude (not necessarily my favorite Chopin, but hard to forget).

*Okay, granted this is way too simplistic an adjective for that piece... but work with me here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:44 AM

      ( 2:02 AM ) The Rat  
BOOKS IN HOME AS IMPORTANT AS PARENTS' EDUCATION IN DETERMINING CHILDREN'S EDUCATION LEVEL, once again via ScienceDaily. If Ratty ever has children, they are clearly never getting out of school. (Here is a group in Germany that seems to be doing good work in this area. Also, RIF appear to still be in business—the days they came to my school were always red-letter days.)

Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics.

For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.

Being a sociologist, Evans was particularly interested to find that children of lesser-educated parents benefit the most from having books in the home. She has been looking for ways to help Nevada's rural communities, in terms of economic development and education.

"What kinds of investments should we be making to help these kids get ahead?" she asked. "The results of this study indicate that getting some books into their homes is an inexpensive way that we can help these children succeed"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:02 AM

      ( 1:48 AM ) The Rat  
TONS OF COOL STUFF over at ScienceDaily.

What Makes Music Sound So Sweet: "The University of Minnesota team, including collaborators Andriana Lehr and Andrew Oxenham, was able to independently manipulate both the harmonic frequency relations of the sounds and another quality known as beating. (Harmonic frequencies are all multiples of the same fundamental frequency, McDermott explains. For example, notes at frequencies of 200, 300, and 400 hertz are all multiples of 100. Beating occurs when two sounds are close but not identical in frequency. Over time, the frequencies shift in and out of phase with each other, causing the sound to wax and wane in amplitude and producing an audible 'wobbling' quality.) The researchers' results show that musical chords sound good or bad mostly depending on whether the notes being played produce frequencies that are harmonically related or not. Beating didn't turn out to be as important. Surprisingly, the preference for harmonic frequencies was stronger in people with experience playing musical instruments. In other words, learning plays a role—perhaps even a primary one..."

Why the Key to Finding Music You Like Is Rhythm, Not Genre: "So close and yet so wrong—you might love heavy metal like Metallica but your music platform suggests you should also like the Sixties sound of The Doors, simply because both bands are classified as rock. New research published May 20, in New Journal of Physics (co-owned by the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society), shows that searching for the temporal aspects of songs—their rhythm—might be better to find music you like than using current automatic genre classifications..."

Multivitamins can add sparkle for healthy young people: "In a randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study, 215 men in full-time employment aged between 30 and 55 were given either a proprietary multivitamin or a placebo for a period of 33 days. [...] Prior to treatment, there were no significant differences between the placebo and multi-vitamin/minerals groups in performance or ratings for any of the study outcomes. However, after 33 days supplementation the multivitamin/minerals group reported significantly improved ratings of general mental health, reduced subjective stress and increased ratings of 'vigour,' with a strong trend towards an overall improvement in mood. Task performance, in terms of the number of correct serial-3 subtractions throughout the six repetitions of the cognitive tasks, and serial-7s during the first repetition, was also improved. This was accompanied by reduced ratings of 'mental tiredness' before and after the intense mental processing and a trend towards reduced 'mental fatigue.' The placebo group showed no significant changes."

And lastly: Hubble Finds a Star Eating a Planet ("The doomed planet is being eaten by its parent star, according to observations made by a new instrument on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph..."), which I would contrive to turn into a metaphor for me and JB if I weren't kind of sleepy at the moment.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:48 AM

      ( 1:47 AM ) The Rat  
There is no one who would have me—I can't cook.
—Greta Garbo

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:47 AM

Sunday, May 23, 2010
      ( 2:18 PM ) The Rat  
DANGEROUS LIAISONS: MS. SKANK. It would seem those porn-flick plots are really just art imitating life... (Also: No word on whether she exchanged phone numbers with any interested students?)

As a substitute teacher here at Briggs High School, Dina McNelis, of West Haven, allegedly threw herself at an all-male class, bar-skank style.

McNelis, 49, reportedly massaged the backs of nervous students, tried to exchange phone numbers, did a naughty dance around the classroom and peeled off a sweatshirt to reveal a rhinestone-studded tank top, the straps of which she allowed to dangle off her shoulders.

Really. Not making this up.

According to an affidavit, nine students came to Briggs social workers on April 1 to report the "bizarre behavior of the previous [day's] substitute." The students said the sub, identified as McNelis, "was rubbing their backs and whispering in [their] ears and even danced around the class room [sic] in a provocative manner." She also whipped out her drivers license to show "how well she looked for her age" and also "admitted her attraction to black men" (repeatedly).

McNelis "even bent over to pick something up from the floor and [put] her rear end into the face of a student," according to the affidavit. The students also said she complained about how hot it was in the classroom and "unzipped her hooded sweatshirt revealing an orange tank top," the affidavit continues. "[T]he straps of this tank top" reportedly "kept slipping off her shoulders along with her bra straps." She's also accused of trying to exchange phone numbers with at least two uninterested students...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:18 PM

      ( 12:50 PM ) The Rat  
16 ITEMS THEY ONLY SELL AT CHINESE WALMARTS. Hard to pick a favorite here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:50 PM

      ( 10:39 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:39 AM

      ( 10:35 AM ) The Rat  
CAN BLOCKING A FROWN KEEP BAD FEELINGS AT BAY? It's been known for some time that Botox might have antidepressant effects, but the connection to language comprehension is fascinating. (Report is from this January.)

To test how blocking a frown might affect comprehension of language related to emotions, Havas asked the patients to read written statements, before and then two weeks after the Botox treatment. The statements were angry ("The pushy telemarketer won't let you return to your dinner"); sad ("You open your email in-box on your birthday to find no new emails"); or happy ("The water park is refreshing on the hot summer day.")

Havas gauged the ability to understand these sentences according to how quickly the subject pressed a button to indicate they had finished reading it. "We periodically checked that the readers were understanding the sentences, not just pressing the button," says Havas.

The results showed no change in the time needed to understand the happy sentences. But after Botox treatment, the subjects took more time to read the angry and sad sentences. Although the time difference was small, it was significant, he adds. Moreover, the changes in reading time couldn't be attributed to changes in participants' mood. [...]

"Language has traditionally been seen as a very high level, abstract process that is divorced from more primitive processes like action, perception and emotion," Havas says. "This study shows that far from being divorced from emotion, language understanding can be hindered when those peripheral bodily mechanism are interrupted."

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:35 AM

      ( 10:33 AM ) The Rat  

Sure, it's invasive, unfair, perverted, etc., but enough about that. Where do you sign up for that job?

How fascinating it must be, to size a person up and guess what sort of demented debauchery they're into, maybe make a few sidebets with your coworkers, then go hunting for the embarrassing answers...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:33 AM

      ( 10:18 AM ) The Rat  
Paves managed to slyly duck out of other required areas of cosmetology study to spend more time on hairstyling. "I would run over and do a roller set for another student, and she would go to my station and do the color for me," he says. "I did everyone's hair, even my teachers', Miss Alicia and Miss Tina. I gave them puffy bangs, because that was the style then. One day, Miss Alicia and I got into a spat, and I walked over and cut her puffy bangs right off. And then she stomped over and cut mine right off. I don't even remember what the fight was about. Hair, probably."
—"Cutting Class," Allure, June 2010

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:18 AM

      ( 5:22 AM ) The Rat  

The new train is being presented as a cut—and at a price—above the others. It was built from scratch at a cost of £9 million and, as well as televisions and DVD players, its compartments have individually adjustable air-conditioning. Rates start at $800 (£535) per person per day—a good $200 above those on the Indian Maharaja—and rise to $2,500 (£1,670) per person per day for the presidential suite. That is a carriage on its own, complete with sitting room, two bedrooms—one with twin beds and one with a double—two showers and even a bath...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:22 AM

      ( 4:14 AM ) The Rat  
But even more than at the diary, Shimamura was surprised at her statement that she had carefully catalogued every novel and short story she had read since she was fifteen or sixteen. The record already filled ten notebooks.

"You write down your criticisms, do you?"

"I could never do anything like that. I just write down the author and the characters and how they are related to each other. That is about all."

"But what good does it do?"

"None at all."

"A waste of effort."

"A complete waste of effort," she answered brightly, as though the admission meant little to her. She gazed solemnly at Shimamura, however.

A complete waste of effort. For some reason Shimamura wanted to stress the point. But, drawn to her at that moment, he felt a quiet like the voice of the rain flow over him. He knew well enough that for her it was in fact no waste of effort, but somehow the final determination that it was had the effect of distilling and purifying the woman's existence.

Snow Country

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:14 AM

Saturday, May 22, 2010
      ( 9:59 PM ) The Rat  
PSYCHEDELIC FROGFISH, AND OTHER NEW SPECIES. I love how no. 7, the "Phallus drewesii," is specified as having been named (in honor of herpetologist Robert C. Drewes) "with permission."

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:59 PM

      ( 5:17 PM ) The Rat  
YOUR JOKE(S) HERE. From the June Allure.

YOU'RE SO MONEY. When the man in your life says you look like a million bucks, believe him. A new study on brain imagine from Duke University Medical Center found that a man analyzes a woman's beauty two ways: in terms of how pleasurable it is to look at her and how much money he would pay to see her again.

The Telegraph has a somewhat less romanticized report on the same study here. (Mmm, curry.)

According to the study men take the same pleasure out of looking at an attractive female form as they do from having a curry or making money whereas women do not take any significant reward from looking at pictures of men.

The survey published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B said that brain scan studies show that "reward centres" are triggered in men when they gaze at a woman's face or body whereas they are not in females. [...]

Previous research has identified several core characteristics of rewards. Economists have shown that people tend to be impulsive, meaning they prefer rewards sooner than later, and that they are less impulsive when rewards are bigger.

This study shows that photos follow the same principles, and that more attractive photos act like larger rewards, said Dr Hayden. Rewards also offer incentives to work harder and they can be traded for other kinds of rewards, which is why men exchange money for pictures of naked women...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:17 PM

      ( 11:26 AM ) The Rat  
NANCY HASS has a piece in the June Vogue, "When Mommy and Daddy Met Lindsay..." that's very much worth your time if you have any interest in surrogacy/fertility issues. The article is principally about Hass's trepidation as her daughter (conceived with her husband's sperm, and the egg of a "traditional" surrogate—that is, not a donor egg from a fourth party) grows older and becomes more curious about where she came from. Hass does plan to tell her (and seems to be approaching it about as maturely/intelligently as anyone possibly could, under the circumstances), but Lindsay is, at the moment, old enough to ask only some of the questions but not all of them. The article's not available online, unfortunately.

I knew that most couples who choose surrogacy these days—there are about 2,000 a year in the United States—use both an egg donor and a gestational carrier instead of a traditional surrogate to avoid the legal and emotional ramifications of having the surrogate be the gentic mother as well as the one who gives birth. By using an egg donor, they also think they can better control the genetics of their child. Most egg donors are college graduates, many with Ivy League degrees.

The logic was unassailable, but as I lay awake at night running through scenarios in my head, I was uneasy. IVF had made me hate the medicalization of fertility, the cold metal of the clinic, the scores of people involved, which would only be more oppressive once there was an egg-donor agency as well as the gestational carrier, not to mention lawyers, psychologists, and insurance companies. I wanted to try something simpler, to capture the naturalness of birth as best I could. It meant I wouldn't have a "designer" baby, but I had written about genetics, and I knew it was a crapshoot no matter what.

Besides, there was a part of me that believed that couples who chose to separate the gestational process from the genetic one did so so there would be no "real" mother to compete with. I knew from my research that many women lied about their surrogacies as they did with donor-egg IVFs, claiming the egg was their own. Keeping such a secret seemed a total violation of trust to me. Using a donor egg and a gestational carrier wouldn't bring me any closer to being the genetic mother of my child, and I doubted that that narrative would be any easier for a child to swallow...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:26 AM

      ( 10:26 AM ) The Rat  
13-YEAR-OLD BECOMES YOUNGEST TO TOP MOUNT EVEREST. Well, thank goodness this isn't going to set an unhealthy precedent or anything.

Ratty heard a BBC interview with Romero's mother a few weeks back that was absolutely appalling—on being asked whether she wasn't worried, for instance, she would just keep repeating that her son had lots of climbing experience, and added (and this really appalled me more than anything else) that anyway, it would be "the number-one priority" of everyone on the expedition to ensure that her son came back alive. Um, hello?—summiting Everest is a highly dangerous activity (though it actually has a lower fatality rate than does climbing e.g. Annapurna or K2). Not only can it not possibly be true that Jordan's survival was the "number-one priority" of everyone on the expedition—but even if it had been, that would be wrong. No one has any right to ask that of his (or her) support team. In wartime? Maybe. But mountaineering is a sport.

(There have already been plenty of op-eds about the younger Romero's climb—you might have a look at this one, by Colby Cosh, if you haven't already seen it [I posted it already in this space in early April; thanks to ET for the link].)

Don't get me wrong—I'm glad Romero made it. But even in the coverage of his successful ascent, one gets the line: "Jordan, from Big Bear, California, was climbing Everest with his father, his father's girlfriend and three Sherpa guides..." I actually hadn't realized, when I heard that BBC interview with the mother, that his parents are divorced—and of course, for all I know it was an amicable parting, etc., etc. But still—this whole story would have been sketchy enough if the 13-year-old in question had been a child of still-married parents. That he's a child of divorce just makes it (and that interview!) sketchier still.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:26 AM

      ( 1:50 AM ) The Rat  
GENTRIFICATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS, via The Atlantic. Don't miss the second-to-last para.

Inevitably, behind cries of decline is a conception, conscious or not, of a time and situation that was better—when the city had a soul. In her invocations of laundries and shoe-repair and hardware stores, Zukin betrays a vague nostalgia, shared by many chronicles of New York (Robert Caro’s The Power Broker, Ric Burns's documentary New York, Pete Hamill's memoirs), for the Old Neighborhoods characteristic of what was once an overwhelmingly working-class city. As late as 1950, New York was by far the world's largest industrial center, and even Manhattan was predominantly and the Village largely a center for labor. There were sewing rooms and small-scale manufacturing lofts in the east-central Village, SoHo, and Tribeca (where, in the late 1970s, I worked in a belt-and-handbag factory); the far West Village had a working waterfront (New York's port was easily the world’s largest, employing 200,000 people) and a brewery (New York made one-fifth of the world's beer). Even if Zukin and Sorkin bemoan the city's deindustrialization and are wistful for the higgledy-piggledy way manufacturing was scattered throughout New York (diversity! mixed use!), they're compelled to make clear that they don’t miss the sweatshops and the exploitative, horrible life that went with them. And recall that the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, in the heart of the Village on a block fronting Washington Square, burned in the second decade of the 20th century—only 25 years before Mary McCarthy, 35 years before the Abstract Expressionists and the Beats, and 45 years before NYU student Woody Allen would all be strolling the square. Which means that even hazy melancholy for the New York of regular Joes with lunch pails returning after a good day’s work to their neighborhoods of kids playing stickball and corner drugstores dispensing egg creams can only evoke scenes pretty much limited to the years of the LaGuardia administration...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:50 AM

      ( 1:40 AM ) The Rat  
...SO I AM A VIRGIN, via Failbook. (Someone claiming to be the OP posts in the reader comments, so this might actually be real, yikes.) My favorite exchange from the comments:

May 20, 2010 at 5:30 am
WIN. Too bad though, I could cut out a few that way.

May 20, 2010 at 5:55 am
Seriously. Couldn’t we all?

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:40 AM

      ( 1:36 AM ) The Rat  
12 RELATIONSHIP RED FLAGS. The usual sort of list, though a little funnier than most. (Note to JB: No, I did not find this because I was Googling "relationship red flags"...)

Ketchup on eggs. If one of those first dates is brunch, and your new friend reaches for the ketchup to put on her eggs, RED FLAG! I realize this may seem arbitrary or fussy. Or perhaps you think I'm making a class judgment here. Well, maybe I am! What's wrong with that? All I know is: Nothing good ever comes of ketchup on eggs. And it's really gross.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:36 AM

      ( 1:34 AM ) The Rat  
MAN ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING 15 POUNDS OF COCAINE IN CANDY. IKM, who sent this to me: "What a waste of perfectly good candy."

According the to the complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York federal court, a customs officer found a gift package in the suitcase containing several boxes of chocolates and bags of pistachios. The bag seemed a little heavy for only candies and nuts.

Instead of their usual fate of being devoured, officials say, the Ferrero Rocher chocolates were poked and prodded until it was determined that they were filled with cocaine, as were the pistachio shells. Had these treats reached the streets, they could have brought close to $500,000...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:34 AM

      ( 1:30 AM ) The Rat  
In 2007 the president and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, was walking around Chelsea in Manhattan, saw a long line of customers at Café Grumpy, waited his turn, drank a cup of coffee from the Clover, thought it the best he'd ever tasted, and subsequently bought the Clover company. Now, even if I had the money, I couldn't buy a new Clover, because Starbucks has a monopoly, and if I bought a used Clover on eBay, who would fix the thing when I inevitably broke it? Starbucks has (reportedly) improved the Clover, especially the electronics; has installed one in a (reportedly) stunning model coffee bar in Seattle; and will continue producing Clovers but for its own use alone. Why isn't there a law against that? Maybe there is. How different is it from what the Orson Welles character in The Third Man did in cornering the penicillin market in postwar Vienna? I, for one, depend more on coffee than on penicillin.
Jeffrey Steingarten, "Brewed Awakening," Vogue, June 2010

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:30 AM

Friday, May 21, 2010
      ( 2:42 PM ) The Rat  
HACKING VENDING MACHINES FOR SOCIAL GOOD. The seed-bomb ones were new to me, but I'm puzzled by that "'reverse' vending machine"—isn't that just a recycling machine? We still have those here in Connecticut.

Sadly, it sounds like rumors of the Smart Car vending machine (I like the story on it here, just for the way they titled it) were greatly exaggerated.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:42 PM

      ( 2:40 PM ) The Rat  
MARKETING HORRORS: SHREK TWINKIES. Saw these in the store the other day. Clearer pic (...uh, not that it's clear why you'd want one) here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:40 PM

      ( 8:30 AM ) The Rat  
IF MOVIE UNIVERSES HAD PROPAGANDA POSTERS. These are a mixed bag, but ET (who sent them to me) was of course right in guessing I'd like the winner. (Hey, can I help it that I'm just really complex and unpredictable when it comes to this subject??)

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:30 AM

      ( 8:08 AM ) The Rat  
WHILE WE'RE ON THE GARDEN THEME, check out World's smallest water lily saved from extinction at Kew (indirectly via a Paula Poundstone tweet, viz.: "My daughter is supposed to summarize a current events article. She chose one about the water lily's extinction. Her finger's on the pulse"). I blushed a little for my species at this detail in the story...

The discovery of how to propagate the plant came just in the nick of time, as the species had not only vanished from its only known site in the wild but one of two last remaining plants in Bonn was eaten by a rat...

As I've doubtless said before in this space, Kew is absolutely worth a visit anytime you're in London (even ET, whom I dragged there in '02, admitted as much). There's more on their conservation work, including the Millennium Seed Bank project, here.

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world. Our focus is on global plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future. The seeds we save are conserved outside their native habitat.

Working with our network of partners across 50 countries, we have successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species. With your help, we are going to save 25% by 2020...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:08 AM

      ( 7:59 AM ) The Rat  
RATTY WAS OFFLINE YESTERDAY, but IKM kept her briefed on rodent-related news by passing along this story, which Drudge had given top billing under the heading: "OBAMA DOESN'T TAKE QUESTIONS FROM THE RAT, EITHER."

Once [the president] was safely inside the Oval Office, a fierce debate erupted among the photographers and reporters who'd witnessed the dash. Was it a rat or a mouse? Or maybe a mole, or a vole, or some other kind of related creature.

In fact, this wasn't the first time a rodent's been spied in the White House, or even the Rose Garden. Just last week, as camera crews set up for an Obama statement on the Gulf oil spill, what's believed to have been the same rodent made a dash across the famous garden...

Coincidentally, part of this Rat's time offline was in fact spent finding new reasons to like rose gardens—which she'd previously distrusted for fear of cliché, though like everybody else she does like roses, and for some reason its choice as the national flower has never bothered her at all—during her first-ever visit to this one. (Okay, part of the issue is that out at the Huntington, the Desert Garden is seriously way cooler than the Rose Garden... or any of the other gardens for that matter.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:59 AM

      ( 7:56 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:56 AM

      ( 7:50 AM ) The Rat  
MEN ARE BIGGER LIARS, ACCORDING TO BRITISH STUDY, via a friend. Don't miss the sidebar "top 10" lists!

Men lie the most and feel less guilty about it—but women are the better liars, a British survey has found.

The most common fib for men is denying that they've had too much to drink.

For women? "Nothing's wrong; I'm fine"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:50 AM

      ( 7:48 AM ) The Rat  

A college professor accused of organizing a swingers club and holding private orgies in China was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison, officials said, in a case that touched off national debate about sexual freedom.

Ma Yaohai, 53, was convicted and sentenced on charges of group licentiousness for participating in group sex parties, said an official from the Qinhuai District Court in southeastern Nanjing. The official, who declined to give his name, refused to answer further questions.

Ma, along with 21 other people, was arrested and charged last year—the first time anyone has been charged under a 1997 law in a case that has snagged huge public interest with its titillating details. It also generated debate about sexual freedom in a nation trying to reshape its own modern morality...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:48 AM

      ( 7:43 AM ) The Rat  
REGIONAL FLAVORS MAY BE A CLICK AWAY, via IKM. Sort of an American/commercial spin on the whole Proustian madeleine thing. (This movie also has a wonderful little allusion that way, as MY pointed out while listing reasons I needed to see it.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:43 AM

      ( 7:38 AM ) The Rat  
"I never imagined you actually typed your books yourself," said Rhoda. "I thought you'd have a secretary."

"I did have a secretary and I used to try and dictate to her but she was so competent that it used to depress me. I felt she knew so much more about English and grammar and full stops and semicolons than I did, that it gave me a kind of inferiority complex. Then I tried having a thoroughly incompetent secretary but, of course, that didn't answer very well either."

Cards on the Table

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:38 AM

Thursday, May 20, 2010
      ( 11:22 PM ) The Rat  
FLY TO MULTIPLE CITIES IN ASIA WITH THE ALL ASIA PASS. Thank God Ratty is chronically short of both time and money... (But she did forward this to KD, just to serve as enabler for his newfound real-Chinese-food fixation.)

Cathay Pacific's All Asia Pass allows travelers to fly round-trip from the U.S. to Hong Kong and visit up to four other destinations in Asia starting at $1,599. Airfare taxes and fees are extra.

Considering that separately purchased flights between these destinations could easily cost you several thousand dollars, the All Asia Pass can be a tremendous value. You may also add on other cities in China, India, Nepal, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, or extend your travel period to up to 90 days (and add more destinations) for an extra charge.

The All Asia Pass includes round-trip airfare between Los Angeles, New York (JFK), or San Francisco and Hong Kong, plus 21 consecutive days available for travel between Hong Kong and up to four of the 42 offered destinations, including Bali, Bangkok, Phuket, Manila, Osaka, Sapporo, Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Karachi, Phnom Penh, Seoul, Singapore, and Taipei just to name a few...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:22 PM

      ( 11:20 PM ) The Rat  
RISE TO POWER FAIL, via FailBlog. My favorite entry here is definitely "Irony," though there are several other good ones.

Meanwhile, from FailBook, It Is Indeed.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:20 PM

      ( 11:15 PM ) The Rat  
WALK THIS WAY, NYERS. Reminds me irresistibly of an old City Desk column in which Rick Brookhiser wanted to know, of those tourist families that try to hold hands as they negotiate Manhattan sidewalks: "What are they doing—seine fishing?"

Someone has finally come up with a way to keep New Yorkers from being driven mad by slow-moving tourists who get in their way—dividing the sidewalk into separate lanes for residents and out-of-towners.

A white line mysteriously showed up in the center of the Fifth Avenue sidewalk between East 22nd and 23rd streets.

One side—clearly the fast lane—is marked "New Yorkers."

And camera-toting out-of-towners can amble along in the "Tourists" lane without being trampled when they stop to take pictures of the big buildings.

"When I came in Saturday morning, it was fresh," said Luis Ramos, who works at a store in the Flatiron Building...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:15 PM

Wednesday, May 19, 2010
      ( 9:25 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:25 PM

      ( 8:30 PM ) The Rat  
WHY YOU CAN'T GET A DATE (HERE'S THE MATH). (Unintentionally) hilarious attempt to apply the findings from "Recognizing the Maximum of a Sequence" to the problem of finding a mate in a large city.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:30 PM

      ( 8:28 PM ) The Rat  
MEASURING FACIAL PERFECTION: THE GOLDEN RATIO. I confess my first thought, on reading this, was of this classic joke about statisticians. (The physicist one at the bottom of that page is also fun.)

Dr. Kendra Schmid, an assistant professor of biostatistics, uses the golden ratio and 29 other measurements to study facial sex appeal. These measurements are calculated to determine a person's beauty on a scale of 1 to 10...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:28 PM

      ( 8:26 PM ) The Rat  
ALSO FROM TIME, Hong Kong: What's Changed, What Hasn't.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:26 PM

      ( 8:25 PM ) The Rat  

It's cramped and stale in what Lau Chi-lok calls home: a 20-square-foot portion of an apartment that he shares with 21 other men. For $167 a month, Lau gets the top bunk in what the government euphemistically calls a "bed space," or cubicle dwelling—a tiny rectangular area, partitioned by thin wooden slabs or steel mesh wire to safeguard the resident's belongings, barely large enough for a mattress.

At least there's air-conditioning, turned on at 9 p.m. every summer night. For most people in Hong Kong, the lives of Lau and his roommates are a world apart, hidden behind gated doors and dark stairways. But this is home to thousands of Hong Kong's urban slum dwellers, who are barely making ends meet and—in this year's downturn—putting off dreams of a better life. Across Victoria Harbour from Hong Kong's central business district, in a neighborhood of bright neon signs and bustling vendors, 33-year-old Lai Man-law has been looking for a job for the past year while living in a mesh-wire 18-square-foot cage. "It's dirty and hot. There are cockroaches and bedbugs, and the air-conditioning doesn't work," he says.

Every major metropolis has its share of slums; the U.N. estimates that one-third of the developing world's urban population lives in them, with nearly 40% of East Asian urban dwellers living in slum conditions. In Hong Kong, the worst of those are the cages, a notorious feature of this metropolis. Throughout the city, pockets of grimy, small, privately owned apartments are partitioned into about 10 cubicle dwellings, many with a shared toilet and shower in the corner. Most residents are the working poor, others are mentally ill, elderly, children and the occasional drug addict. Beyond the dwellings' crushingly small size, residents must battle poor hygiene, exposure to electrical wires and heat during the extremely humid summer months. It's difficult to pinpoint an accurate number of people living in conditions like Lau's because many live in private tenements, but social workers estimate at least 100,000 people live in inadequate housing, a category that includes cubicle, cage, rooftop and partitioned dwellings...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:25 PM

      ( 8:47 AM ) The Rat  
In povertà mia lieta
scialo da gran signore
rime ed inni d’amore.
Per sogni e per chimere
e per castelli in aria,
l’anima ho milionaria...

'Che gelida manina'*

*For the record, I still hate admitting I could like anything from this opera. But this was just such a lovely discovery to make, the more so on a grey/rainy weekday morning.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:47 AM

      ( 7:42 AM ) The Rat  
DEVILED META-EGGS, just because I'm a sucker for any kind of meta-food. (It makes me genuinely sad that it seems unlikely anyone will ever top the Meta-Cannoli.) The Breakfast Cabin is also worth a look, just for the bacon curtains.

Also, could anybody really face these Red Velvet Pancakes at as early an hour as one typically has breakfast?

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:42 AM

      ( 7:27 AM ) The Rat  
"SOMETIMES I THINK MEN MISTAKE WOMEN FOR NATURE." CNN pc. (originally sent to me by a friend) by Heather Sellers, who went on 100 coffee dates to snap herself out of a post-divorce dating rut. This article's an old favorite—there are, perhaps inevitably, moments of overwriting, but there are also some wonderfully snarky lines.

I feel so bad for them all. The man with a part in a play who could talk of nothing but the play. The play is his life. Both will start soon. The man in white knee socks and black sneakers who chose a coffee shop across from the mental institution. It was very distracting. The whole time he talked, I kept trying not to think he'd come from across the street on a pass. Then, when I talked, at the end, I felt I was the one on the pass.

The chef/Hemingway aficionado/sea captain (age 53, two kids at home, blue eyes) who said he would be divorced but the economy was really bad and he couldn't do that to his wife just yet. She had a boyfriend. He was excited about dating.

It's like going to the pound and I am a nice dog from some other pound.

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:27 AM

      ( 7:25 AM ) The Rat  
Your actions are my dreams...
The Winter's Tale

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:25 AM

      ( 7:24 AM ) The Rat  
COOL PIGGY BANKS. But what about those of us for whom being awake isn't necessarily worth 1¢? (Also, Ratty's thinking maybe the makers of Clocky should develop a piggy bank that runs away once it's full, so you can't take money out of it.)

The Banclock claims to be a devious combination of Bank and Alarm Clock. It performs a dual function by acting as a clock and sounding its alarm whenever you set it to go (should be a good thing to get you out of bed). You can only shut it up by feeding it a coin...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:24 AM

      ( 7:19 AM ) The Rat  

How much will it cost you to fly from Atlanta to Las Vegas? Don't bother checking; by the time you do, the price will have already changed. According to a new study from Yapta, the fare for flights between those two cities has changed 2,472,916 times so far this year, or once every six seconds...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:19 AM

      ( 7:15 AM ) The Rat  

The arrival of the dining room marked a change not only in where the food was served, but in how it was eaten and when. For one thing, forks were now suddenly becoming common. Originally an agricultural implement, "fork" didn't take on a food sense until the mid-15th century, and then it described a large implement used to pin down a bird or joint for carving. The person credited with introducing the eating fork to England was Thomas Coryate, an author and traveller from the time of Shakespeare who was famous for walking huge distances—to India and back on one occasion—and who also introduced English readers to a new device called the umbrella.

Eating forks were thought comically dainty and unmanly—and dangerous, too, come to that. Since they had only two sharp tines, the scope for spearing one's lip or tongue was great, particularly if one's aim was impaired by wine and jollity. Manufacturers experimented with additional numbers of tines—sometimes as many as six—before settling, late in the 19th century, on four as the number with which people seemed most comfortable. Why four should induce the optimum sense of security isn't easy to say, but it does seem to be a fundamental fact of flatware psychology...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:15 AM

      ( 7:07 AM ) The Rat  
AMTRAK has lowered some fares on the Northeast Regional by "up to 25 percent."

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:07 AM

      ( 6:59 AM ) The Rat  

Also via Serious Eats, a very large cinnamon stick. I want one! And I love how happy M. Vongerichten looks—not that one could blame him. (This pic really reminds me of that old Garfield strip about "the land of giant breakfasts.")

And, finally: Beyond Guacamole: 5 Ways to Use Avocados. Good to know that my nephew—whose fondness for avocados is such that, if anything, "guzzle" is probably too weak a word—is normal.

5. Have a Baby. Seriously? Babies and little kids guzzle avocados like there's no tomorrow, and all those good fats do wonders for their developing brains. It's win-win. At least until you have to start paying for college...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 AM

      ( 6:49 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:49 AM

      ( 1:29 AM ) The Rat  
I have carried only a few ideas out of life's storm—and not one feeling.
A Hero of Our Time

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:29 AM

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
      ( 7:41 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:41 PM

      ( 3:59 PM ) The Rat  
SHIBAZAKURA SEASON at Hitsujiyama Park. Pretty intense. Another gorgeous pic (from last year) of shibazakura at the foot of Mt. Fuji, here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:59 PM

      ( 3:53 PM ) The Rat  
FURTHER NOTES FROM RATTY'S HOMELAND. I know it's only a typo, but I do like how the photo to the right is captioned "A weeding ceremony."

A Taiwanese court has convicted a runaway groom of fraud after he accepted jewellery from the woman he promised to marry, only to call off the wedding citing a "family taboo," a report said Tuesday.

The man, identified by his family name Lai, said he could not tie the knot because of a family taboo against marrying anyone surnamed Lin, the TVBS news channel reported.

"His mother claimed that the woman will go crazy and the man will be beheaded if a Lin and a Lai were to get married," the woman told TVBS...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:53 PM

      ( 1:42 PM ) The Rat  
EMERGENCY COCKTAIL STATION. The Ledge also looks interesting.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:42 PM

      ( 1:32 PM ) The Rat  
TORONTO WOMAN SUES ROGERS FOR EXPOSING HER AFFAIR. Single best line: "'I lost everything,' she says. 'I want others to know what a big corporation has done.'"

[T]he woman, whose husband walked out, is suing the communications giant for $600,000 for alleged invasion of privacy and breach of contract, the results of which she says have ruined her life.

In 2007, Gabriella Nagy had a cellphone account with Rogers which sent the monthly bill to her home address in her maiden name. Her husband was the account holder for the family's cable TV service at the same address. Around June 4, 2007, he called Rogers to add internet and home phone.

The following month, Rogers mailed a "global" invoice for all of its services to the matrimonial home that included an itemized bill for Nagy's cellular service, according to the statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

When Nagy's husband opened the Rogers invoice, he saw several hour-long phone calls to a single phone number...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:32 PM

      ( 1:27 PM ) The Rat  
MODERNITY VS. TRADITION IN OBERAMMERGAU. This and the last link are both via A&LD.

Stückl also has Judas, who is normally considered a traitor, making a futile attempt to bring Jesus and the Jewish elite together for a political negotiation. When Jesus is crucified, Judas can no longer live with the guilt. Peter, however, who renounces Jesus three times, puts his trust in the mercy of his Lord. And even though he too is a traitor, like Judas, he becomes the leader of the new Christian church.

This is the play that has Oberammergau in turmoil: Jesus as a committed Jew, Pilate as a tyrant, Judas as a disappointed disciple and Peter as a failure.

Other new elements include a text from the Jewish Shema Yisrael, a group of committed supporters of Jesus among the crowd on stage, the appearance of two camels on stage, the resurrection of Jesus late in the evening and the role of Claudia, Pilate's wife. The scenery and the material and colors of the costumes are also new.

Korbinian Freier, who plays the apostle Philip as someone hoping impatiently for a better world, is enthusiastic about Stückl's approach. The 29-year-old doctoral student now believes that Jesus was the only credible revolutionary. "He doesn't just talk, he acts. The idealism he exudes is unbelievable."

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:27 PM

      ( 10:42 AM ) The Rat  
THE PLAYBOY AND HIS WESTERN WORLD. Forgettable Commentary commentary on Hugh Hefner, which alas doesn't cite my own favorite line apropos of Hefner*... but which was worth reading just for the quotes from Martin Amis, particularly this one:

Three points need to be made about Hefner’s oft-repeated contention that Playboy is like a family. First, it is a family in which Poppa Bear gets to go to bed with his daughters. Secondly, it is a family in which the turnover in daughters is high. Thirdly, it is a family in which no tensions, resentments or power-struggles are admitted to or tolerated: at Playboy, everyone is happy all the time.

*(David Mamet:) "I was raised on James Bond and Hugh Hefner's Playboy Philosophy. Bond went through life impressing people with his gun, and Hefner went through life in a bathrobe; and the capper was that, of the two of them, Hefner was the one who actually existed."

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:42 AM

      ( 1:21 AM ) The Rat  
NOM. Dr. Strangelove is currently on Hulu (should you have an hour and a half or so to kill), as is Charade.

That said, they also have Killer Condom ("A professor blackmails a student of his into having sex with him. But when the professor puts on a condom, the carnivorous condom bites off his penis and disappears")... I mean, depends what you're in the mood for, right?

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:21 AM

      ( 1:01 AM ) The Rat  
MALE VILLAIN SEEKING FEMALE ARCH-ENEMY, via Best of Craigslist. "Costumes are a plus and bring a group if you want, but no more than 3 because there's a difference between losing a battle and just straight up getting jumped."

Also check out Take a few pictures for cash (female).

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:01 AM

      ( 12:59 AM ) The Rat  

Prahlad Jani, 83, who says he has not had a bite to eat for 70 years, was put under constant surveillance to test his astonishing claims by a team of 30 military medical staff.

During a 15 day stay in a hospital in the city of Ahmedabad, India—he astounded doctors by not eating, drinking or going to the bathroom.

"We still do not know how he survives," neurologist Sudhir Shah said at the end of the experiment. "It is still a mystery what kind of phenomenon this is."

The yogi was sealed in a ward for the study initiated by India's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

The DRDO hopes that findings from the experiments could help soldiers survive without food and drink, assist astronauts or even save the lives of people trapped in natural disasters...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:59 AM

      ( 12:51 AM ) The Rat  
"Much more sensible—the things we wear nowadays," said Miss Brewster.

"Why, yes, M. Poirot," said Mrs. Gardener. "I do think, you know, that our girls and boys nowadays lead a much more natural healthy life. They just romp about together and they—well, they—" Mrs. Gardener blushed slightly for she had a nice mind—"they just think nothing of it, if you know what I mean?"

"I do know," said Hercule Poirot. "It is deplorable!"

"Deplorable?" squeaked Mrs. Gardener.

"To remove all the romance—all the mystery! Today everything is standardized!" He waved a hand towards the recumbent figures. "That reminds me very much of the Morgue in Paris."

"M. Poirot!" Mrs. Gardener was scandalized.

"Bodies—arranged on slabs—like butcher's meat!"

"But M. Poirot, isn't that too far-fetched for words?"

Hercule Poirot admitted: "It may be, yes."

"All the same," Mrs. Gardener knitted with energy, "I'm inclined to agree with you on one point. These girls that lie out like that in the sun will grow hair on their legs and arms. I've said so to Irene—that's my daughter, M. Poirot. Irene, I said to her, if you lie out like that in the sun, you'll have hair all over you, hair on your arms and hair on your legs and hair on your bosom, and what will you look like then? I said to her. Didn't I, Odell?"

"Yes, darling," said Mr. Gardener.

Every one was silent, perhaps making a mental picture of Irene when the worst had happened.

Evil Under the Sun

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:51 AM

Monday, May 17, 2010
      ( 5:44 PM ) The Rat  
SOME OF THE WINNERS (plus previous entries) from this year's Design Within Reach champagne-chairs contest.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:44 PM

      ( 5:42 PM ) The Rat  
WHAT REALLY MAKES THIS is that bit about "wish[ing] her a nice evening."

Also, don't miss the reader comment by "Jules" at 7.49 AM. You may never read that story the same way again.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:42 PM

      ( 8:18 AM ) The Rat  

Automatenverlag is hoping that locals won't be able to kick the habit of buying books on the go once they start. The publisher has refurbished and repurposed old cigarette automats for the purpose of selling books, focusing on the neighborhood surrounding the University of Hamburg...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:18 AM

      ( 8:08 AM ) The Rat  
PLAZA ATHÉNÉE'S BARBIE ROOMS (larger photo here). That's the one in Paris's 8ème, by the way, not the one in New York—which by my calculations makes this at least twice as wrong.

Family package includes one Barbie room and one Deluxe room for the parents (adjoining rooms) from 1,600 € or one Barbie room and one Deluxe suite from 2,500 €...

Just to counter that a bit, here's something else pink.

Edited to add: This Mad Men Barbie collection actually does look pretty cool.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:08 AM

      ( 8:04 AM ) The Rat  

According to this map, there is a remarkable degree of correlation between certain types of given names, and certain regions in the Netherlands...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:04 AM

      ( 1:08 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:08 AM

      ( 12:33 AM ) The Rat  

When Joseph Velardo, 28, was arrested in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in April after shoplifting items from a Staples store, he for some reason expressed relief that the charges would prevent him from being accepted by law schools. He explained that, since the value of the goods was over the $300 line that separates a mere misdemeanor from a 3rd-degree felony, law schools, thankfully, could no longer accept him. While officers were busy being puzzled about all that, the Staples manager told the police that the actual value of Velardo's take was $276.88. [WPTV (West Palm Beach), 4-7-10]

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:33 AM

      ( 12:22 AM ) The Rat  
"Oh, don't be cross with me, Mark. I think it's a very good thing really, and I'm delighted. She's really very nice."

"Who's nice?"

"Hermia Redcliffe, of course. You seem to think I know nothing about anything. I've seen it coming on for ages. And she really is just the person for you—good-looking and clever; absolutely suitable."

"That," I said, "is one of the cattiest things you could say about anyone."

Rhoda looked at me.

"It is, rather," she said.

The Pale Horse

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:22 AM

Sunday, May 16, 2010
      ( 11:40 PM ) The Rat  
STATELY DUTCH MILF MAGNET, via Best of Craigslist.

I am selling this bicycle because my therapist suggested I need to come to terms with my attraction to african-american women. No sister is going to date a 34 year old systems administrator riding a european grocery bike. However, when I would cruise slowly down Park Slope's fifth avenue, panties would literally fly off of every white or asian woman with a stroller and a master's degree...

Also on the MILF theme, check out To the redheaded MILF jogging in the park Sunday morning, apologies.

I hope you realize that my perving was directed at you and only you, and absolutely no part of it was meant for your young daughter (niece? juvenile jogging companion?). As implied, I enjoy the perks of jogging at Audubon, and one of those is a bit of ogling on the sly. It helps me forget that it's been too long since I was jogging regularly, and I usually wear sunglasses to keep my baser proclivities to myself. You are stacked, I like redheads, my sunglasses were missing... you see where this is going.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:40 PM

      ( 5:32 PM ) The Rat  
NEW DAVID SIMON PROJECT TO INVESTIGATE HAPPY, UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS STREETS OF WILMETTE, IL. Not really that well done, esp. compared to that Onion classic, This American Life Completes Documentation of Liberal, Upper-Middle-Class Existence (which remains, to this day, one of my top two or three favorite Onion articles ever—the more so now that I've actually listened to one or two episodes of This American Life). Still, fans of The Wire might appreciate this paragraph:

The Township will feature an ensemble cast, including actors Wendell Pierce and Dominic West from The Wire as a pair of successful, well-adjusted real estate agents who occasionally grab one quick drink after work before returning home to the families they love...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:32 PM

      ( 2:03 AM ) The Rat  
RADIOLOGY ART: X-RAY ART. Predictably, the food section is my favorite. (ET, when I described this site to her: "Wow! It's like if Man Ray were in the I Can Has Cheezburger era!")

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:03 AM

      ( 1:50 AM ) The Rat  
GOLDFISH CRACKER ANATOMY. Seriously, the only thing on this that made me do a double-take was when I saw that one line in the left-hand drawing and thought, "They put actual cheddar cheese in those?!"

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:50 AM

      ( 1:48 AM ) The Rat  
I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED this Peanuts strip.

Also rather wonder if this one didn't exercise at least some degree of formative influence...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:48 AM

      ( 1:42 AM ) The Rat  
"Chloe, we don't have time for your personality disorder!"
—some early season or other of 24 (S3, I think)

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:42 AM

Saturday, May 15, 2010
      ( 8:54 PM ) The Rat  
MUGABE ORDERS 'ARK' OF WILDLIFE AS GIFT TO N. KOREA. Because the only thing better than a story about a batshit-crazy, power-mad regime is a story about two batshit-crazy, power-mad regimes... (For a very short clip about North Korea and the Fifth Brigade, go here.)

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is often accused of suffering from a god delusion, and the dictator's latest decree certainly seems to be inspired by the spirit of the Old Testament: He's ordered his militia to round up animals, two-by-two, at a national park—not to protect the wildlife from an imminent flood, but as an unusual present for an old ally in North Korea.

According to conservationists, Mugabe intends to gift fellow dictator Kim Jong-Il a modern-day ark, containing pairs of baby elephants, nearly extinct rhinos, zebras, giraffes and other wild animals. The unfortunate beasts will be put on display at a zoo in Pyongyang.

Wildlife experts warn that many of the animals will either die during the 7,000-mile airlift to North Korea, or fall sick soon after their arrival. Conservationists are especially worried about the fate of two 18-month-old elephant calves. Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told The Associated Press that the young pachyderms will almost certainly perish if removed from their mothers...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:54 PM

      ( 8:00 PM ) The Rat  
PLAYBOY 3D: CENTERFOLD HOPE DWORACZYK WILL JUMP OFF THE PAGE. This and the last link were both referenced on this week's Wait Wait.

3-D may be all the rage, but Hefner said he first thought of using it when he launched his magazine in the 1950s.

"I actually signed a photographer to shoot two nude women in 3-D in Chicago," he said. But he scrapped the idea when he discovered how expensive it would be to include the glasses.

So, do the glasses work? Well, it does kind of look like Dworaczyk is handing you the wine glass she's holding. And she says the photograph makes everything a little, well, bigger.

"It's kind of like it says on the rearview mirror," Dworaczyk joked. "Things may appear larger."

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:00 PM

      ( 6:12 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:12 PM

      ( 5:04 PM ) The Rat  

Also via Serious Eats, "Freakish" find shocks Southland woman.

Southland woman Wendy McMahon reckons she will never look at canned pears the same way.

The latest can she opened contained a demonic face carved into one of its contents...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:04 PM

      ( 5:02 PM ) The Rat  

One out of 3 married women (33%) say their pets are better listeners than their husbands. Diane Demaske, a Petside Facebook fan, says her pets "can read my emotions better than my husband." Overall, 25% of pet owners feel their pet is a better listener than their spouse, and the battle between cats and dogs continues—dog owners are more likely to declare their dog as the better listener than cat owners (25% vs. 14%).

About 1 in 10 pet owners (8%) claim they often talk about their personal problems to their pets. Women (10%), single men (9%), and people earning under $50K (12%) are most likely to do the talking. Only 5% of men, 4% of married men, and 5% of those earning more than $50K tell their problems to their pets...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:02 PM

      ( 12:25 PM ) The Rat  
AND, FOR ANOTHER HEIGHT-THEMED ITEM that's also very much the sort of thing I'd blog, I present: Sexy, Spiky Stilettos Make Practical Cacti Planters.

If your dancing shoes have made it one-too-many times around the stripper pole, consider upcycling them; in 3 simple steps worn shoes will emerge anew as spiky planters...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:25 PM

      ( 12:24 PM ) The Rat  
TALL GIRLS, MORE CATTLE. As JB notes, "This seemed like the type of story you'd blog."

Reporting from Juba, Sudan—The man in the orange sunglasses and a fur hat with earflaps seemed more like a jazz musician on a cigarette break than a tribal chief, but as soon as he spoke, village men gathered for a lesson on brides, poor boys and cattle.

The shade was just right. John Modi Jubek crossed his legs, striking as regal a pose as a chief can when he's sitting in a plastic chair. It was odd to him that a stranger didn't know the Mundari tribe smiles more upon tall women than on short ones. A father may love his diminutive daughters, but affection does not bring longhorns and riches.

"Tall girls fetch more cattle because their daughters will quickly grow and can be married off to fetch even more cattle," said the chief, shooing a stubborn fly. "A tall girl can command 60 to 100 cattle from a suitor. A short girl may get 20 head, and, sometimes, short girls overstay their welcome in the father's home and end up fetching only five cattle. By then, a tall girl has already borne five children"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:24 PM

      ( 11:54 AM ) The Rat  
WHEN IT'S 3 O'CLOCK IN NEW YORK, IT'S STILL 1938 IN ENGLAND. This seems of a piece with the same atavistic tendency that made David Kynaston's Austerity Britain a surprise best-seller in the U.K. during the worst of the recession—even though it was meant to be a work of cultural history rather than, you know, a how-to manual.

Shoppers have developed a taste for old-fashioned "wartime" food since the recession, figures show.

Sales of powdered milk, sandwich paste and corned beef have increased over the last two years, according to

Data from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Ocado shows sales of powdered custard is up 117%, powdered milk has increased by 36%, fish paste is up 18% and corned beef is up 16%...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:54 AM

      ( 11:50 AM ) The Rat  
AMERICA'S DIRTIEST CITIES. Fun slideshow from Travel + Leisure. Questionable methodology, though—for starters (and perhaps most obviously), the cleanest city isn't necessarily going to be the most environmentally-friendly one. The fact that a city's residents are tidy enough to get their trash into trash cans doesn't actually tell you whether they're generating unnecessarily large amounts of trash in the first place. As someone-or-other* has put it, "There is no away."

Semi-relatedly, check out Crazy iPhone App Maps Every Tree in New York City. Though I don't know whether it's been updated to reflect the 20,000 new trees just planted on April 24.

*Not sure who coined this phrase, but I have seen it attributed to William McDonough and Michael Braungart, who IMO have rather more interesting ideas than the standard-issue "environmentalists" (not that that's a high bar... but seriously, Cradle to Cradle really is worth reading, even if, as I tend to suspect, it's at least somewhat overoptimistic.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:50 AM

      ( 11:48 AM ) The Rat  

Richard Préfontaine and his wife, Lynne Charbonneau, were watching a playoff hockey game with their two daughters on Monday night when the ground beneath their house gave way suddenly and without warning.

The house’s bright green metal roof was all that was visible the next day in a vast mud crater near the village of St. Jude, Quebec, about 50 miles northeast of Montreal. The landslide created a hole 100 feet deep, 300 yards wide and a third of a mile long.

The family’s remains were found huddled together on a couch by the television, with rescuers discovering only their golden retriever, tied to a tree, alive.

On Wednesday, officials allowed residents of several nearby houses to return home. But the family’s shocking demise was a stark reminder of a hidden menace under many parts of Quebec, one that dates back 10,000 years to an ancient inland sea...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:48 AM

      ( 11:44 AM ) The Rat  
"Dreams? If only they had been! But I don't need dreams, Doctor, that's why I hardly have them—because I have this life instead. With me it all happens in broad daylight!"
Portnoy's Complaint

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:44 AM

Friday, May 14, 2010
      ( 11:23 PM ) The Rat  
THE BEEB really have, at one point or another, made a documentary about absolutely everything.

P.S. I swear I found this by accident. Also, the lineup of BBC America Reveals documentaries really looks pretty awesomely trashy. Compare with the two radio documentaries I listened to most recently on the real BBC: The Lonely Funeral (about how funerals are arranged for the—on average—15-20 people who die completely alone each year in Amsterdam) and Would you kill the big guy? (about trolley problems).

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:23 PM

      ( 11:21 PM ) The Rat  
A man who tried sneaking through a JFK Airport screening checkpoint was arrested by a rifle-toting National Guardsman yesterday after announcing, "I'm here to party! I'm here to fall in love!" sources said.
New York Post, May 14, 2010

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:21 PM

Thursday, May 13, 2010
      ( 11:00 PM ) The Rat  
STILL ON THE SUBJECT OF NATURE DOCUMENTARIES, only much sillier: Wildlife documentaries invade animal privacy rights, claims leading academic.

Dr Brett Mills believes programmes such as the BBC's Nature's Great Events, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, are "unethical" for capturing animals' most intimate secrets on camera without their consent.

The senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia said it was wrong for broadcasters to treat all creatures as "fair game" and to fail to consider their right to privacy before recording.

Animals just like humans have a basic right not to have their most intimate moments—such as mating, giving birth and dying—broadcast to an audience of millions, he said.

He compared putting pinhole cameras in birds' nests to intrusive Big Brother-style CCTV...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:00 PM

      ( 10:56 PM ) The Rat  

Some psychologists and sociologists who have studied usage habits on Twitter, Facebook and popular dating sites say there's little correlation between how people act on the Internet and how they are in person...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:56 PM

      ( 3:39 PM ) The Rat  

Your participation allows the success of a cease-fire agreement between three of the largest and most notorious gangs in L.A. history. This agreement will allow young people and children safe passage (gun fire free safety zones). It will provide the framework to create a peaceful environment conducive to their physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. With your help together we will save lives and create sustainable change...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:39 PM

      ( 3:35 PM ) The Rat  
STRANGE SIGNS FROM ABROAD. Sent in by NYT readers, but fairly awesome nonetheless.

Edited to add: No. 70 isn't actually an error—Coram's Fields is a park for children, and that sign is something of a landmark. Even Wikipedia knows this; I can't actually tell whether the NYT does. (I never actually entered Coram's Fields during my summer there, despite living nearby, as I didn't have a child handy.)

My favorite entry in this slideshow may be no. 108, as it's a reference to one of my favorite Shakespeare plays (also arguably to a minor Somerset Maugham novel, but Shakespeare clearly owns the phrase).

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:35 PM

      ( 10:41 AM ) The Rat  
TETRAHEDRA! God, sometimes I think the math dork in me will never die. Which would be fine, except that she's an even worse source of income than the literature dork.

If physicists ran candy stores, gumball machines might be filled with pyramids instead of spheres. It seems that tetrahedra, with their four triangular faces, are the most efficient shape for filling a container randomly, as opposed to carefully stacking objects within it.

Graduate student Alexander Jaoshvili of New York University and his colleagues filled and shook containers of tetrahedral game dice. They found that the tetrahedra were packed tightly enough to occupy 76 per cent of their containers. In comparison, randomly packed spheres fill up to 64 per cent of space, while the figure for squashed spheres, or ellipsoids, can be as high as 74 per cent.

The work is sure to rock the confectionery world, but it has implications for developing stronger materials as well. That's because MRI studies by the team show that a tetrahedral die can be locked into place by its immediate neighbours alone, making it harder to nudge out of place. Jumbled collections of spheres, by contrast, are less rigid because any sphere can be moved by objects as far away as six diameters...

From the same source, check out Weed resistance could mean herbicide is futile.

The world's most popular herbicide is losing its knockout punch. More and more weeds are evolving resistance to glyphosate—originally marketed by Monsanto as Roundup—but the problem could have been forestalled by farming practices enriched by a better understanding of evolution.

This is a serious problem. "Glyphosate is as important to world food production as penicillin is to human health," says Stephen Powles, a plant scientist at the University of Western Australia in Perth...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:41 AM

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

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