Tuesday, May 31, 2011
( 10:47 PM ) The Rat
THE WORLD'S TALLEST SANDCASTLE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:47 PM
( 9:51 PM ) The Rat
DYSFUNCTIONAL SINGLES FIND EACH OTHER.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:51 PM
( 1:39 PM ) The Rat
NINETY GAFFES IN NINETY YEARS, courtesy of JWB and ET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:39 PM
( 12:33 PM ) The Rat
ANGRY BIRDS VEGAN PIZZAS. If I ever dress up for Halloween again, I kind of want to be an Angry Bird. (Besides, talk about a costume that's forgiving even if you've had a few too many donuts.)
For everyday wear, there's always the hat (yellow model here—also black and blue). A pig hat also available, though I don't know why you'd want to be one of those bastards.
From the same site, this watermelon frosty/margarita looks tasty.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:33 PM
( 11:17 AM ) The Rat
Steven. We live in Arizona, right?—and there's not a ton of water, it's desert. But there are some kind of cool-water areas, especially near the Grand Canyon... So for part of our tenth-year anniversary, Jessica and I went to this cliff-jumping place.
Anthony. Just you and Jessica?
Steven. Yeah—just me and Jessica.
Steven. And I don't know what came over us. But we were feeling like—ten years, this has been a... you know, that's kind of a big risk, right?
Steven. Sticking with each other for ten years...
Anthony. Maybe more on her part.
—"Two Gomers' Life Lessons"
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:17 AM
( 9:32 AM ) The Rat
MUSTACHE BAKING MOLD.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:32 AM
( 8:43 AM ) The Rat
GESTATIONAL DIABETES PREDICTABLE BEFORE PREGNANCY, EXPERTS SAY.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:43 AM
( 8:40 AM ) The Rat
BUTTERFLIES CLOSE WINGS TO AVOID SEX.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:40 AM
( 1:20 AM ) The Rat
ADOPTIVE MOM HELPS 'GIVE BIRTH' TO 43 FAMILIES.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:20 AM
Monday, May 30, 2011
( 6:29 PM ) The Rat
We'd had lunch before I left his house. Al had seemed in surprisingly high spirits for a man who'd just been questioned about which psychopathic traits most applied to him. As we ate, he told me funny stories about firing people...
—"King of the Forest," from "The Psychopath Test," TAL
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:29 PM
( 3:26 PM ) The Rat
GOOD STUFF OVER AT DISCOBLOG: some icky findings about vuvuzelas, and a study on national anthems and suicide.
In a sample of 18 European nations, suicide rates were positively associated with the proportion of low notes in the national anthems and, albeit less strongly, with students' ratings of how gloomy and how sad the anthems sounded, supporting a hypothesis proposed by Rihmer...
Also: No sh*t, Sherlock: weight loss edition.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:26 PM
( 1:21 PM ) The Rat
"POP A CAP IN YOUR GLASS!"
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:21 PM
( 1:04 PM ) The Rat
"I'M GOING TO WORK SO THAT IT'S A PURE GUTS RACE AT THE END, AND IF IT IS, I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN WIN IT." On this day in 1975, running legend Steve Prefontaine was killed in a car crash. At the time of his death, at age 24, Pre held every American record from 2,000 to 10,000 meters—so hey, there must've been something to that whole "The only good race pace is suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die" strategy. How about honoring his legacy by doing something completely insane?
N.B. Wednesday is National Running Day, and you can cash in on some nice fee discounts for the Rock 'n' Roll road race series ($26 off a marathon, $13 off a half, and so on) if you register on that day (12:00 AM PST-11:59 PM PST).
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:04 PM
( 9:19 AM ) The Rat
"APPARENTLY I SAVED MYSELF A MEMO LAST NIGHT..." via TFLN.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:19 AM
( 9:02 AM ) The Rat
12 THINGS YOU'LL WISH YOU'D NEVER SEEN UNDER A MICROSCOPE, another keeper from John Cheese, from last November. Don't even click on this if you're not ready for some pretty gnarly photographs... though I actually find a "Not a sparrow falls" sort of comfort in knowing that in all the vastness of the universe, even the tiniest things are so elaborate/detailed.
Yes, that's real. These are all real. That's an entry in Nikon's photomicroscopy contest, taken by Tomas Pais de Azevedo of Lisbon, Portugal, and it won first place in the "GET THAT SHIT OUT OF HERE, TOMAS. JESUS" category...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:02 AM
( 9:01 AM ) The Rat
DAIRY PRINCESS IS LACTOSE INTOLERANT, via Wait Wait.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:01 AM
( 9:00 AM ) The Rat
WEBCAM OF THE CIHU SCULPTURE MEMORIAL PARK, which Ratty's dad took her to in '09. Yes, it's at least that weird experienced in person too.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:00 AM
Sunday, May 29, 2011
( 5:29 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:29 PM
( 12:48 PM ) The Rat
YOU WOULD REALLY THINK the prices were reversed on the dresses in this photo...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:48 PM
( 11:30 AM ) The Rat
MAN UNABLE TO EXPLAIN CONTEMPT HE FEELS FOR GROUP OF PEOPLE ENJOYING ONE ANOTHER'S COMPANY.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:30 AM
( 11:24 AM ) The Rat
Glass. Doug tells me about all of the cases they get where a husband gets separated from his wife in the mall, and then comes to security for help finding her.
Doug. "That's when the descriptions don't match anything they say... [Laughing.] They don't know what their wives look like! They don't know what kinda hair they got, haircut... You can say, Is it down to their shoulders, or is it up high? What color is it? How tall is she? And don't ask 'em what they've got on...
Interviewer. They could just say, 'She's wearing a blue coat.'
Doug. And then they'll be wrong! They'll be wrong about that.
—"Scenes from a Mall," TAL
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:24 AM
( 10:58 AM ) The Rat
MMM, BEER-CAN CHICKEN. Also see Uzbek Beer-Can Chicken.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:58 AM
( 12:30 AM ) The Rat
WHAT KIND OF ACTION MOVIE SINGLE DAD ARE YOU? via Cracked.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:30 AM
Friday, May 27, 2011
( 6:50 PM ) The Rat
But Ha, in the ten years they've been apart, has become this powerhouse businesswoman in Korea. She owns three gyms, trains people on the Korean Olympic Team, has a house full of medals—she's gotten used to being single. So Mark works on her... for another seven years. He calls; he writes letters; and every six months they meet up, have a great time, and he asks her to marry him again...
—from "Isn't It Slow-mantic," an extraordinary love story from the same TAL episode
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:50 PM
( 6:25 PM ) The Rat
STALKING THE BOGEYMAN. David Holthouse's 2004 article about confronting, over 20 years later, the man who'd raped him when he was seven. This story forms part of "Slow to React," a TAL episode that aired earlier this year. The reader comments are, as you might expect, pretty intense.
The memory of being raped when I was seven was never repressed. It was not recovered under hypnosis. It has always been with me, festering. When I was a teenager, I began researching how being raped as a child might affect the development of my personality, and I recoiled in horror. Every study I read supported the "vicious cycle" theory that victims of pedophilia are more likely to become pedophiles themselves. I felt like a werewolf had bitten me and it was only a matter of time before the full moon rose. Throughout my early adolescence, I was constantly, torturously checking myself for evil impulses. I made a blood oath with myself that if I started feeling the desire to rape children, I would kill myself and make it look like a mountaineering accident. I was already in the habit of solo climbing in Alaska—no partners, no ropes—despite my parents' repeated warnings against such a dangerous activity. Had I thrown myself down a mountain, they would have believed it, and better a son who died climbing than one who lived and raped kids...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:25 PM
( 4:09 PM ) The Rat
CHEWBACCA BENTO BOX, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:09 PM
( 3:27 PM ) The Rat
"AND TILAPIA MAY BE THE MERYL STREEP OF SEAFOOD." Thanks for the image, NYT!
Policing the seafood industry has historically been challenging because even the most experienced fishmongers are hard pressed to distinguish certain steaks or fillets without the benefit of scales or fins. And many arrive in supermarkets frozen and topped with an obscuring sauce...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:27 PM
( 10:38 AM ) The Rat
I have often noticed that we are inclined to endow our friends with the stability of type that literary characters acquire in the reader's mind. No matter how many times we reopen 'King Lear,' never shall we find the good king banging his tankard in high revelry, all woes forgotten, at a jolly reunion with all three daughters and their lapdogs. Never will Emma rally, revived by the sympathetic salts in Flaubert's father's timely tear. Whatever evolution this or that popular character has gone through between the book covers, his fate is fixed in our minds, and, similarly, we expect our friends to follow this or that logical and conventional pattern we have fixed for them. Thus X will never compose the immortal music that would clash with the second-rate symphonies he has accustomed us to. Y will never commit murder. Under no circumstances can Z ever betray us. We have it all arranged in our minds, and the less often we see a particular person, the more satisfying it is to check how obediently he conforms to our notion of him every time we hear of him. Any deviation in the fates we have ordained would strike us as not only anomalous but unethical. We could prefer not to have known at all our neighbor, the retired hot-dog stand operator, if it turns out he has just produced the greatest book of poetry his age has seen.
—Lolita [a passage that came to mind while I was checking Facebook]
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:38 AM
( 10:36 AM ) The Rat
SOCIAL MEDIA CREATES NEW TEEN AILMENT—'FACEBOOK DEPRESSION,' via IKM. Onion-esque.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:36 AM
( 9:46 AM ) The Rat
WHO SAID IT: TRUMP OR GANDHI? Hilarious.
Donald Trump and Mahatma Gandhi: the ultimate polar opposites, right? One spent his life in service to others, helping the people of India through nonviolence and quiet protest. The other spends his life gobbling up real estate, bedding models and basically making his name synonymous with "vulgar excess." But you might be surprised to find out that The Donald has a softer side. And Gandhi sometimes had to get tough. Can you guess who said what?
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:46 AM
( 9:35 AM ) The Rat
THE NASTY GERMS FOUND AT STARBUCKS CONDIMENT COUNTERS. Unsurprising of course, but a fun read nonetheless.
One specimen, taken from a counter top at a Starbucks near Times Square, had the most bacteria...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:35 AM
Thursday, May 26, 2011
( 9:47 PM ) The Rat
ONE NATION, UNDER ME. From 2008; h/t today's new SYSK, "How do I start my own country?"
The Republic of Molossia isn't on any road map, but if you get lost along the way, you can always ring the president, who is happy to give directions. "Take Route 341 over the mountains, and make a left on Six Mile Canyon Road," explained His Excellency Kevin Baugh. "And be careful of the speed trap as you're coming into Virginia City."
Not every dictator gives travel tips to the tourists. But Molossia isn't any run-of-the-mill country. It's a micronation, a teeny republic that consists of—well, to be honest—Baugh's three-bedroom house and 1.3-acre yard.
Baugh, a 45-year-old father of two, is a micronationalist, one of a wacky band of do-it-yourself nation builders who raise flags over their front yards and declare their property to be, as Baugh puts it, "the kingdom of me"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:47 PM
( 5:22 PM ) The Rat
OBSOLETE ELECTRONICS CONTAINER GARDENS, via Treehugger. Though the tin can container garden's the prettiest.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:22 PM
( 5:18 PM ) The Rat
ADJUSTING TO NEW FAMILY MEMBERS, via Miss Manners.
My much-beloved sister-in-law passed away suddenly. As sad as we were at her passing, we were all thrilled for my husband's brother when he found a new wife who makes him happy. The trouble is, adjusting to this new wife has been difficult for all involved, as our late sister-in-law was a very relaxed and warm person, while my new sister-in-law is somewhat rigid and controlling...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:18 PM
( 3:14 PM ) The Rat
"YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU HAVE THIS MINT TO KEEP YOU COMPANY." Pretentious Instagram Photos Get a Funny Makeover, via ET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:14 PM
( 2:47 PM ) The Rat
SHRIMP ON TREADMILLS! (Ibid.) But no word on whether they outperform penguins on treadmills.
In one instance NSF employees, in their spare time, engaged in a Jell-O wrestling contest at the agency's McMurdo research station at the South Pole. In another case, the agency paid $559,681 to test sick shrimp's metabolism, which one researcher said was "the first time that shrimp have been exercised on a treadmill."
Mr. Coburn’s report noted that the researchers found sick shrimp "did not perform as well and did not recover as well from exercise as healthy shrimp"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 PM
( 2:46 PM ) The Rat
CHEAPER SUNSCREENS BETTER THAN EXPENSIVE ONES, via JM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:46 PM
( 2:44 PM ) The Rat
He did not attempt to go to sleep; he did not even unbutton the top button of his tunic. He sat in a chair and mused. Formerly, in solitude and in silence, he had been used to think clearly and sometimes even profoundly, seeing life outside the flattering optical delusion of everlasting hope, of conventional self-deceptions, of an ever-expected happiness. But now he was troubled; a light veil seemed to hang before his mental vision; the awakening of a tenderness, indistinct and confused as yet, towards an unknown woman.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:44 PM
( 12:12 PM ) The Rat
"A GOLDEN RETRIEVER IS CUTE BUT CAN BE A LITTLE GAY, AND IT'S A FAMILY DOG, SO YOU HAVE TO LOOK FOR THE WEDDING BAND." Tools of Attraction: Dogs.
Also via Nerve, Taking Off Our Costumes.
I empathized. Anyone with a chronic, incurable illness—particularly anyone who acquired it young—will tell you, you can approach your health with fortitude, humor and perspective. And yet, there's inevitably a moment when you tell someone the facts in an even-keeled way and—kapow!—they freak the fuck out and you end up having to assuage their fractured sense of mortality. Because illness is death's calling card and you've just reminded them they might not live to 105 and die in their sleep. That if it could happen to you, it could happen to them...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:12 PM
( 12:06 PM ) The Rat
"MEAT GLUE": not as fun as it sounds.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:06 PM
( 11:52 AM ) The Rat
COMFORT FAIL, via Failbook; also, Reading Between the Lines. As for Men..., my own immediate reaction was, "Hey, at least he said 'please.'"
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:52 AM
( 11:26 AM ) The Rat
"CONCLUSION: PEOPLE ARE NUTS." Smiling for Men Is Chick Repellent, via L.A. Weekly.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:26 AM
( 11:17 AM ) The Rat
SURVIVAL STRATEGIES FOR ORCHESTRAS.
In "Music Makes a City" the narrator says that Mayor Farnsley believed in the Confucian principle that high culture would attract wealth and power, an idea borne out when General Electric cited the cultural attractions of Louisville in its decision to move there in the 1950s. And the arts still attract business: Paula Angelo, a spokeswoman for Nissan, said in a telephone interview that Nashville's "robust cultural environment" was a factor in the company's decision to relocate its headquarters there from Los Angeles in 2006...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:17 AM
( 10:15 AM ) The Rat
"I WAS A PODCASTER IN THE MING DYNASTY." SYSK: "Who Said It?" quiz.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:15 AM
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
( 8:45 PM ) The Rat
Peter. Last night, like some sort of idiot, I had sex with this woman who I barely even know. Uh... I used a condom, but... I'm really scared that I have an STD, Doc.
Dr. Rosenbaum. Peter, I'm a pediatrician. Have you noticed you're sitting on a fire truck?
—Forgetting Sarah Marshall
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:45 PM
( 8:14 PM ) The Rat
POPE SHUTS DOWN 'PARTYING' MONASTERY.
The basilica had become a hub for the "Friends of Santa Croce," an aristocratic group, and had been criticised for some unorthodox practices including dances in which nuns pranced around the altar.
One of the nuns who performed at the church, a former disco dancer, can be seen in a YouTube video performing a modern dance with a crucifix.
The basilica's longtime abbot, Simone Fioraso, a flamboyant former Milan fashion designer, was already moved out of the basilica two years ago...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:14 PM
( 7:55 PM ) The Rat
"MEN BECOME MORE WARY OF SEXY WOMEN AND THEY LIKE WHOLESOME WOMEN MORE." Your culture may influence your perception of death.
Ma-Kellams recruited both European-Americans and Asian-Americans for the study. Each person was told to either write down thoughts that come to mind when thinking about their own death—or to write down their thoughts about dental pain. (Those people were the control group.) Then they were asked to decide what bail should be set for a prostitute and given a survey on their attitudes toward prostitution. As other research has found, European-American people who had thought about death were much harsher towards the prostitute than those in the control group. But Asian-Americans who thought about death were much kinder toward the prostitute—even though they started out more conservative.
In a second experiment, participants were presented with a less extreme case, a story about a university employee who'd been injured in an accident through no fault of his own. The same result was found; European-Americans were more likely to blame him if they'd contemplated their own mortality, while Asian-Americans were less likely to blame him...
Also via ScienceDaily: Vitamin D Increases Speed of Sperm Cells, Researchers Discover.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:55 PM
( 7:29 PM ) The Rat
NYT CORRECTS 112-YEAR-OLD ERROR IN OBITUARY.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:29 PM
( 5:19 PM ) The Rat
ADELE'S EX-BOYFRIEND WANTS MONEY FOR INSPIRING ALBUM. Mentioned on a recent Wait Wait.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:19 PM
( 1:17 PM ) The Rat
DE-BARBING STINGRAYS in Ratty's hometown.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:17 PM
( 9:28 AM ) The Rat
LITERARY TATTOOS. Yeah, no comment. Site via a SYSK tweet; book via JWB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:28 AM
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
( 11:37 PM ) The Rat
TULIPS! via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:37 PM
( 9:37 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:37 PM
( 9:06 PM ) The Rat
WHITES BELIEVE THEY ARE VICTIMS OF RACISM MORE OFTEN THAN BLACKS, STUDY SUGGESTS.
Also from ScienceDaily: Cultural activities are good for your health, Norwegian study finds.
[B]eing involved in either receptive cultural activities (such as attending a theatre performance or viewing an art show) or creative culture activities (where participants themselves are active in the creative process) was found to be related not only to good health, but to satisfaction with life, and low levels of anxiety and depression.
"Up to now physical activity has been recognized as a measure that promotes good health. But our study shows that other daily life activities may promote good health from a holistic point of view," the NTNU researchers said. "The results suggest that the use of cultural activities in health promotion and health care may be justified."
And finally: Is science finally starting to catch up to Proust?
Reviewing the literature in his field and the experimental models that have come in and gone out of fashion over the last half-century, Hintzman concludes that these simple experimental tasks, observed in isolation from one another, yield theories that are so oversimplified as to fundamentally misrepresent the nature of memory.
For instance, he says, these word-list tasks make it look as if we only remember when we intentionally put our minds to it—yet we all experience spontaneous memories, many times every day...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:06 PM
( 8:40 PM ) The Rat
"AN UNEXPECTED TWIST." Rueful, extremely funny, extremely well-told story (by Andy Borowitz) about life, marriage, and colon surgery.
But finally a guy comes in with the CT scan results, and he is a surgical resident. Now, the only word that's worse than 'triage' is 'surgical,' because you know that something bad is about to happen. And he says, 'Well, we have good news, in a way, which is that we know what's wrong with you.' And I say, 'Well, what is it?' And he says, 'Your colon is twisted.' And this is something called a sigmoid volvulus—I mean, I know a lot of you already know what that means, since this is scientists and all, but, uh—basically what it means is that the colon has formed a knot... and nothin's going in, and nothin's coming out. It's like—midtown.
Mike Daisey's "What Was Learned in London" is also terrific. (Listened to three Moth stories during this evening's run, of which two were outstanding and the third, while not as outstanding, still quite good. This is definitely becoming a regular listen.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:40 PM
( 1:07 PM ) The Rat
"BABY STEPS." Nine-minute segment, about a new father (who's blind) taking his four-month-old for their first unaccompanied walk, from a TAL from last year.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:07 PM
( 12:17 PM ) The Rat
Perhaps you're a parent and you bought this book to learn how to raise an achievement-oriented, drug-free, adult virgin. You'll find that, too. The essential ingredients, I can tell you up front, are a strong father figure, bad skin, and a child-sized colonial-lady outfit.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:17 PM
( 11:22 AM ) The Rat
A MACHINE ENCOURAGES KIDS TO RECYCLE WITH CANDY BRIBES. These would probably work on adults too...
Also from Treehugger: What can I say, the English are just better at gardens than we are. Pics of the Wonkavator here, and more on its reception here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:22 AM
( 9:13 AM ) The Rat
MMM... (Link via WC.) These are so good—especially my mom's. And perfect for picnics, hikes, etc., since they come in a biodegradable wrapper!
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:13 AM
( 1:15 AM ) The Rat
THE 6 WORST PARTS OF BEING CHINESE (NOT IN THE STEREOTYPES), via ET.
In California in particular, there are pretty big swaths of Chinese-dom where a Chinese person can spend their entire life without having contact with any of the lesser races. There are Chinese strip malls anchored by Chinese supermarkets, with Chinese restaurants, delis, bookstores, Charles Schwabs, insurance companies, banks and after-school tutoring programs (because seven hours is for lazy Americans). All the Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants in these areas are also Chinese, because who's gonna tell...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:15 AM
Monday, May 23, 2011
( 9:22 PM ) The Rat
PARENTS KEEP CHILD'S GENDER SECRET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:22 PM
( 9:18 PM ) The Rat
At the reception one of Fern's girlfriends leaned over and whispered something to her husband, prompting the husband to give her a Really? look. The girl nodded and Brooke wondered what they were talking about until the husband materialized next to her chair, held out his arm, and asked Brooke if she'd like to dance. The pity dance. She knew it well, was often guilty of nudging Julian to ask solo women at weddings for a dance, thinking she was doing a good deed. Well, now that she knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of such charity, she swore she'd never do it again.
—Last Night at Chateau Marmont
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:18 PM
( 4:05 PM ) The Rat
CAMELS ARE THE NEW CANE TOADS!
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:05 PM
( 3:20 PM ) The Rat
TERRY MOORE: HOW TO TIE YOUR SHOES.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:20 PM
( 3:00 PM ) The Rat
France says, 'Does anyone want to go swimming?' And her relatively more modest sister says, 'We don't have suits.' And fearless, guileless, Germanic Susan says, 'That's okay with me.' And, uh... a couple of minutes later they're standing on the beach, in panties and bras. Uh—which are very different than, uh, bikinis. France's are chocolate-brown lace, and, uh... her skin is the color of milk. She looks like a profiterole... my favorite dessert.
—James Braly in "Infidelity," This American Life
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:00 PM
( 2:07 PM ) The Rat
HEAD OUT TO THE BIG GAY ICE CREAM TRUCK ANYTIME TUESDAY—they'll be at Broadway and 17th from 2 till 7 PM—and your tip will be donated to Doctors Without Borders.
The brick-and-mortar store opens next month.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:07 PM
( 2:01 PM ) The Rat
RICH AND SORT OF RICH, via the NYT by way of SYSK's Twitter feed.
On a Yahoo message board, a poster named Mason, who lives in Manhattan with two young children, said his household income was $262,000. "I understand the need to raise taxes," he wrote, "but I don't understand why people like us are lumped in with millionaires and billionaires."
On one level, Mason is feeling the effects of inflation; $250,000 isn't what it used to be. If Mr. Obama were really trying to return to Mr. Clinton’s 1993 levels, he would have to adjust the bracket for inflation, moving it up to about $386,075. In fact, in Mr. Clinton’s last year in office, the top bracket had risen to $288,350 from $250,000.
Then there is the problem of keeping up with the Joneses. In 1993, earning $250,000 was a more exclusive club, making it easier to feel like one of the wealthy. Back then, households making more than $200,000 represented about .08 percent of the country.
And today, $250,000 households tend to be clustered on the coasts, where there are often better-paying jobs.
The Fiscal Times, a publication financed by Peter G. Peterson, the very public deficit hawk and former commerce secretary under President Richard Nixon, commissioned BDO, an accounting firm, to look at how households that make $250,000 fared in different parts of the country, mostly in middle- to upper-class neighborhoods.
The takeaway, according to the study: "It's not exactly Easy Street for our $250,000-a-year family, especially when they live in high-tax areas on either coast."
Even when including in its estimates an additional $3,000 from investment income, the report said, families "end up in the red—after taxes, saving for retirement and their children's education, and a middle-of-the-road cost of living—in seven out of the eight communities in the analysis."
There is also an issue of fairness, say some economists and advocates of tax reform. The truly rich—the "millionaires and billionaires"—often pay much less in taxes. The wealthiest 400 Americans in the country paid, on average, a rate of only 16.6 percent, according to the latest report from the I.R.S. that examined returns from 2007...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:01 PM
( 1:57 PM ) The Rat
"THAT EXPLAINS WHY NONE OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS BUILT THEIR HOUSE OUT OF HOT DOGS. THAT AND IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TOTALLY SICK." The Wait Wait crew eat a double dog.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:57 PM
( 1:39 PM ) The Rat
SEVEN YEAR ITCH: WHEN DO PEOPLE GET MARRIED AND DIVORCED? via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:39 PM
( 1:07 PM ) The Rat
TERRIFYINGLY EXTENSIVE FAN PAGE devoted to the '80s ...uh, well Wiki calls it a "satirical police sitcom," Sledge Hammer! Like, with storyboards and everything.
This is probably the worst TV show I've ever loved.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:07 PM
( 12:54 PM ) The Rat
TROLL FEED. Heh!
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:54 PM
( 9:34 AM ) The Rat
CHINA AND TAIWAN: FIRST JOINT DICTIONARY. This would be exciting if the simplified characters used on the mainland weren't absolutely butt-ugly. Also, yes, I find it hilarious (hadn't known it before because I'd never seen the simplified character) that the mainlanders' character for "love" is literally the traditional character for "love" with the character for "heart" taken out of it.
One of the biggest differences is that China, starting in the 1950s, has required its people to use simplified Chinese characters to raise literacy. Taiwan continues to use traditional characters, which have more strokes, insisting they best represent the culture behind the language.
When it comes to speaking, while both sides use Mandarin Chinese as the official dialect, they say even simple words like rice, hot water, and panda differently—"mi fan," "bai kai shui," and "xiong mao" in China, versus "bai fan," "re shui" and "mao xiong" in Taiwan.
These differences might seem slight, but some are not. In China, you refer to your spouse as your "ai ren," but that means your lover in Taiwan.
Some words have been created on one side but not the other because of the influence of local dialects and each side's unique history. For example—"dong xuan" means frozen garlic in China, but in Taiwan it's a slang derived from the widely spoken Minan dialect and means winning an election. [...]
As interaction between China and Taiwan increases, people wonder which side will win out on the language front. Will Taiwan move towards its giant neighbour's way of writing and speaking, or will the small island, which prides itself on being the repository of traditional Chinese culture, have more influence over China?
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:34 AM
Sunday, May 22, 2011
( 9:21 PM ) The Rat
PROMS AS DO-OVERS FOR ADULTS, again via Wait Wait. ET when I showed this to her: "This is a strange country."
These are not reunions of former high school classmates eager to relive the prom night they had together. A vast majority of revelers are in their 20s and 30s, although a few are in their early 60s and are simply excited at the prospect of getting decked out and dancing—and voting for the night's king and queen.
But the adult version, as evidenced here in Green Bay, featured much of the same awkwardness as the high school prom, made only more tolerable with the addition of alcohol. Inside a ballroom, there was the woman wondering aloud all night about where her date had disappeared to. At another table sat the cluster who came for a fun girls' night out but looked rather forlorn. In a corner of the dance floor, a woman had her arms draped around her date’s neck, while his hands wandered down her waist in a way that would surely make a chaperone blush.
Really, nobody seemed to mind. This was their do-over, another shot at perfection. Or perhaps for some the first chance at an American rite of passage. And for a precious few, a night to re-create one of the best times of their lives...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:21 PM
( 8:06 PM ) The Rat
HOW TO AVOID TENTACLE RAPE. Ah, Uncyclopedia...
But the tentacles are too fast and they grab you around your long womanly legs, creamy smooth thighs, lithe voluptuous waist, delicate soft arm, and it tightens around your vulnerable and slender throat, then the monster begins to slowly drag you back despite your terrified moans and futile struggles. "AAAAAAA!!" You scream, "A freakish hobo has grabbed me with slimy paralyzing tentacles! And the tentacles are slowly reaching up my unnecessarily short schoolgirl skirt and touching me in my naughty place!"
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:06 PM
( 8:02 PM ) The Rat
DOES EATING GIVE YOU PLEASURE, OR MAKE YOU ANXIOUS?
In healthy women without an eating disorder, amphetamine-induced release of dopamine was related to feelings of extreme pleasure in a part of the brain known as a "reward" center. However, in people who had anorexia nervosa, amphetamine made them feel anxious, and the part of the brain that was activated was, instead, a part of the brain that worries about consequences.
"This is the first study to demonstrate a biological reason why individuals with anorexia nervosa have a paradoxical response to food," said Kaye. "It's possible that when people with anorexia nervosa eat, the related release of the neurotransmitter dopamine makes them anxious, rather than experiencing a normal feeling of reward. It is understandable why it is so difficult to get people with anorexia nervosa to eat and gain weight, because food generates intensely uncomfortable feelings of anxiety"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:02 PM
( 6:38 PM ) The Rat
DEATH GETS A WEBSITE is back! (Or maybe it never left? I could swear it went away at least temporarily.) I have the poster somewhere in storage. "Death picks a puppy," "Death loses his luggage," "Death does his laundry," etc., are hilarious—but nothing, nothing will ever beat "Death gets a call from his mother."
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:38 PM
( 6:33 PM ) The Rat
GREATER FOOD CULTURE, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:33 PM
( 2:57 PM ) The Rat
OUR BEST LEGAL AND SORT OF LEGAL PICNIC SPOTS. No. 2 seems like a dick move to me (even for the Voice), but am linking this because I do like the caption on the first photo.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:57 PM
( 10:14 AM ) The Rat
TEXAS PASSES BILL TO MAKE SOME FISH TALES A CRIME, via Wait Wait.
A bill that would make it a misdemeanor—and in some cases a felony—to misrepresent the size, weight or provenance of a fish in a fishing tournament arrived on Gov. Rick Perry’s desk on Wednesday, after passing the State Senate in a unanimous vote on Monday...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:14 AM
( 1:56 AM ) The Rat
I'M DYING TO KNOW what was in the mind of the person who got here looking for f.r. leavis + rat.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:56 AM
Friday, May 20, 2011
( 9:38 PM ) The Rat
THIRD OF BERLIN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS CONSIDER SEX WORK.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:38 PM
( 8:59 PM ) The Rat
SRD SAYS: "Teaching cuss words to Swype feels so good!"
Here's the Swype Finger.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:59 PM
( 8:42 PM ) The Rat
♥ ♥ ♥ SWYPE! ♥ ♥ ♥ I hope whoever invented you has faucets that dispense champagne—this is beyond cool. There's a Swype vs. iPhone demo here.
Edited to add: Oh hey—here he is. Of course it's some recovering hippie.
Kushler's path to improving typing on phones was preceded by work on helping the disabled communicate. And before that, dolphins...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:42 PM
( 7:37 PM ) The Rat
POP MUSIC POLICE BLOTTER, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:37 PM
( 7:20 PM ) The Rat
ROUTINE PERIODIC FASTING IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH, AND YOUR HEART, STUDY SUGGESTS.
And, last link from Science Daily: How you think about death may affect how you act.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:20 PM
( 7:18 PM ) The Rat
WHAT'S IN A SIMPLE LINE DRAWING?
Researchers found that viewing a "beach" scene depicted in a line drawing activated nearly the same patterns of brain activity in study participants as did viewing an actual color photograph of a beach. The same was true when people viewed line drawings and photographs of other natural scenes including city streets, forests, highways, mountains and offices...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:18 PM
( 7:09 PM ) The Rat
FAMILY FINDS $45,000 IN NEW HOME. These stories turn up regularly of course, but I'm not sure I've seen one before where the Samaritan in question admitted that there had been any struggle involved in his decision!
Ferrin thought about how such a large sum of money could go a long way, pay bills, buy things he never thought he could afford.
"I'm not perfect, and I wish I could say there was never any doubt in my mind. We knew we had to give it back, but it doesn't mean I didn't think about our car in need of repairs, how we would love to adopt a child and aren't able to do that right now, or fix up our outdated house that we just bought," Ferrin said. "But the money wasn't ours to keep and I don't believe you get a chance very often to do something radically honest, to do something ridiculously awesome for someone else"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:09 PM
( 5:41 PM ) The Rat
FISCALLY I'M A RIGHT-WING NUTJOB, BUT ON SOCIAL ISSUES I'M FUCKING INSANELY LIBERAL, via DB. Reminiscent of that classic New Yorker cartoon caption, "He said that he is socially liberal and fiscally conservative, but what he meant is that he sleeps around and is cheap."
Take finances. It is my opinion that all taxes whatsoever should be abolished, and that everything relating to money in any way should be privatized, including the minting of coinage. Thus, each American should have his own system of currency and his own bank named after him to maintain that currency, and anyone whose personal currency system fails in the unfettered free market should be left to die bleeding and penniless in the street, with his family crying helplessly at his side. Also, corporations should be able to buy whatever and whomever they want, and at the end of every year the richest and most powerful corporation should be allowed to physically demolish 15 other corporations that it wishes to see destroyed, murdering all of the various employees of said corporations in any way it sees fit. I guess you could say I'm a fucking nutcase conservative when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I do believe it's an ideology that has its limits.
For example, when it comes to a social issue like gay rights, my opinion is that gays and lesbians should be afforded extra rights under the law, as I believe they are descended from an immortal race of beings whom we must revere as the ancient Sumerians would have revered their god An. All Americans should spend four hours of every workday erecting elaborate temples in which to worship our omnipotent homosexual overlords...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:41 PM
( 5:40 PM ) The Rat
WHAT YOUR SALUTE SAYS ABOUT YOU, via WC. Reminded me of the grandmother in When Sisterhood Was in Flower: "She communicated with calling cards, turning down the corners this way or that with such Druidic expertise that she could say I am at home on Thursday but will be out of town over the weekend attending a funeral without writing a word."
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:40 PM
( 1:46 PM ) The Rat
"A MACBETH IN A HOTEL." Not sure what to make of this, but friends of a friend saw and loved it.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:46 PM
( 1:23 PM ) The Rat
IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T READ IT, the actual description of this whole Lars von Trier thing is pretty hysterical.
"But it turned out I was not a Jew, but even if I'd been a Jew I would be kind of a second-rate Jew because there is kind of a hierarchy in the Jewish population," he continued, as the stars of "Melancholia," Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who sat beside him, began to look uncomfortable. The comments took the assembled international press by surprise, and quickly swept film blogs and Twitter.
"But anyway, I really wanted to be a Jew, and then I found out I was really a Nazi, you know, because my family was German... which also gave me some pleasure," Mr. Von Trier said. "What can I say? I understand Hitler. I think he did some wrong things, yes absolutely, but I can see him sitting in his bunker in the end.
"I think I understand the man. He's not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him and I sympathize with him a little bit. But come on, I'm not for the Second World War, and I'm not against Jews.
"I am of course very much for Jews. No, not too much because Israel," he said, using a vulgarism, is difficult. "But still, how can I get out of this sentence?"
Mr. von Trier, whose comments were apparently made in jest, Reuters said, and who had joked earlier in the news conference about making a pornographic film with Ms. Dunst and Ms. Gainsbourg, rambled through another answer before closing with: "O.K., I’m a Nazi." ("Oh Lars, that was intense," Ms. Dunst was heard to say afterward.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:23 PM
Thursday, May 19, 2011
( 7:02 AM ) The Rat
TEN PEOPLE WHO ARE FUNNIER ON TWITTER THAN THEY ARE ON TV, via Nerve.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:02 AM
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
( 4:15 PM ) The Rat
The places we have known do not belong solely to the world of space in which we situate them for our greater convenience. They were only a thin slice among contiguous impressions which formed our life at that time; the memory of a certain image is but regret for a certain moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fleeting, alas, as the years.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:15 PM
( 3:46 PM ) The Rat
VANISHING WORDS. Heartbreaking Radiolab episode about sentence analysis and age-related memory loss. Though I will say, I probably first read Elephants Can Remember when I was about 12, and even then it seemed clear to me that the author (whom I adored, then as now) must have been suffering some form of Alzheimer's/dementia—it and, especially, Passenger to Frankfurt really should never have been allowed to be published.
I particularly recommend this (it's not long—about 16 mins.) not only for Christie fans but for anyone interested in linguistics and/or cognitive science. (And/or nuns!)
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:46 PM
( 3:37 PM ) The Rat
PENGUINS ARE ATHLETES, TOO. Well, sure, but—Tevas? What is he, some kind of hippie?
In a press release, Teva president Mike Worley was quoted saying, "...while Lucky's challenge was certainly unique to us, his needs were not dissimilar to those of any world-class kayaker or trail runner." Worley added that the product development team went through many rounds of trial and error "due to the language barrier." Har, har.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:37 PM
( 2:28 PM ) The Rat
RATTY JUST RECEIVED the London Undercover English Breakfast umbrella she's been coveting for three years, and is pretty sure it's already given her $74 worth of pleasure before even being taken outside. (No, really—it's glorious. Admittedly, I'm kind of an umbrella person—for a highly enjoyable chapter on their history, see this book.) Naturally, the rain—which had been going for days—has obligingly stopped dead in time for its arrival.
N.B. Chinese are superstitious about umbrellas (also fans, knives, etc.) given as gifts, so perhaps it's as well nobody caught my copious hints about how much I'd love being given one of these, and that I was forced to buy it myself...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:28 PM
( 1:19 PM ) The Rat
EXPLODING WATERMELONS PUT SPOTLIGHT ON CHINESE FARMING PRACTICES. Yikes.
The flying pips, shattered shells and wet shrapnel still haunt farmer Liu Mingsuo after an effort to chemically boost his fruit crop went spectacularly wrong.
Fields of watermelons exploded when he and other agricultural workers in eastern China mistakenly applied forchlorfenuron, a growth accelerator. The incident has become a focus of a Chinese media drive to expose the lax farming practices, shortcuts and excessive use of fertiliser behind a rash of food safety scandals.
It follows discoveries of the heavy metal cadmium in rice, toxic melamine in milk, arsenic in soy sauce, bleach in mushrooms, and the detergent borax in pork, added to make it resemble beef...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:19 PM
( 1:14 PM ) The Rat
"GREAT IDEA!... BUT CAN I GET A 'KEEP DOGGIE OUT' FENCE AROUND MY TREE?" Reader comment on this article on Martin Azua's Bios Urn.
[The] Bios Urn is a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose and inside it contains the seed of a tree. Once your remains have been placed into the urn, it can be planted and then the seed germinates and begins to grow. You even have the choice to pick the type of plant you would like to become, depending on what kind of planting space you prefer.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:14 PM
( 1:11 PM ) The Rat
THIS TFLN is like my twenties flashing before my eyes...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:11 PM
( 7:30 AM ) The Rat
"I THINK YOU SHOULD DO IT YOURSELF. SHAVE HER YOURSELF." Funnier-than-expected Sex Advice from Nudists, via Nerve. If the standard-issue nudist were as good-looking as these three, Ratty would've gotten in on that racket years ago.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:30 AM
( 7:15 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:15 AM
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
( 9:47 PM ) The Rat
COULD THE INTERNET SPELL THE END OF SNOW DAYS? I just hope the parents are issued riot gear.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:47 PM
( 7:24 PM ) The Rat
CAMEL THORN TREES, NAMIBIA. Super-cool.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:24 PM
( 5:25 PM ) The Rat
"ADMITTEDLY, THE RING ISN'T QUITE APPROPRIATE FOR A LESS-THAN-MATURE AUDIENCE, WHAT WITH ITS MURDERS AND INCEST AND WHANOT." How Do You Introduce Classical Music to Kids? via NPR. Perhaps jelly beans would help?
It was early afternoon on a sunny Saturday. We were stuck in the car in heavy traffic. All three of us were bored and restless. All snacks had already been consumed and endless rounds of 20 Questions had already been played. We'd forgotten our iPods and our phones were running low on batteries. We were nowhere close to our destination.
"Are we there yet?" came a cry from the backseat at closer and closer intervals. In desperation, my husband fiddled with the car radio, and chanced upon the gleaming chords of Das Rheingold. Ah, the Metropolitan Opera broadcast and then, something that stunned us: glorious silence from the peanut gallery. Had we hit upon something that would stave off the impending meltdown?
"What's this about?" finally came the querulous three-year-old's voice. Sensing the possibility of a small reprieve, my brave spouse launched into a more than lightly edited précis of Wagner's first Ring opera: a dwarf, a golden ring, three lovely river sprites, a kingdom full of interesting gods and goddesses.
"I wanna go see it!" she cried. When we gently told her that she might not like the entire story, and that it takes hours and hours and hours anyway, she promptly burst into genuine tears. She was burning to go to the opera and witness this story about the magical ring and all the people who wanted to own it. As adult Ring-lovers, our associations with this music might revolve around Wagner's artistic genius, or, more grimly, about the composer's repellent anti-Jewish writings. For our preschooler, the Ring sounded like a wonderful addition to her greatly beloved stable of princess stories. (Cinderella, Snow White, Brünnhilde...)
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:25 PM
( 5:21 PM ) The Rat
KIDS AND HIKING: WHAT ONE MOM LEARNED THAT WORKS FOR HER. It involves jelly beans.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:21 PM
( 5:20 PM ) The Rat
Two months earlier Brooke wouldn't have believed it if someone told her she'd be having this conversation; now, having already been approached by the principal at Huntley, one of Brooke's old high school classmates, an ex-coworker, and not one but two cousins—all wanting Julian to sing or sign or send something—Brooke wasn't surprised by anything. All that said, this was probably the best one yet. She tried to picture Julian singing an acoustic version of "For the Lost" on the bimah of Temple Beth Shalom to a group of five hundred Jewish mothers and grandmothers, after receiving a kvelling introduction by the rabbi and the president of the board. Afterward, all the women would turn to one another and say things like, "Well, he's no doctor, but at least he makes a living at it," and "I heard he was premed but never pursued it. Such a shame." Then they'd swarm him and, noticing his wedding ring, want to know everything about his wife. Was she a nice Jewish girl too? Did they have children? No, why not? And more important, when do they plan to start trying? They'd cluck that he'd surely be a much better fit with their daughter or niece or friend's daughter. Despite the fact that they lived on the Main Line in Philly and Julian grew up in Manhattan, at least a dozen of the women present would find a connection to Julian's parents or grandparents or both. Julian would return home that evening shell-shocked, a veteran of a war only a few understood, and there would be nothing Brooke could say or do to comfort him.
—Last Night at Chateau Marmont
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:20 PM
( 5:14 PM ) The Rat
"THE WOMAN WHO COULD NOT FORGET," via A&LD. On a new book on Iris Chang's life (and death) by her mother, Ying-Ying Chang.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:14 PM
( 12:54 PM ) The Rat
"IT'LL BE ALL THE STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW YOU'VE GROWN TO KNOW AND LOVE, WITH THE ADDED HILARITY OF TYPOS." SYSK is now available in transcript format for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, as well as for hearing people unclear on the "something you can do without being chained to a glowing rectangle" concept. Here's the announcement (though if the transcripts are online at the site yet, I can't find them).
Edited to add: OK, they are online, here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:54 PM
( 12:30 PM ) The Rat
WHAT YOUR LITERARY TOTE BAG SAYS ABOUT YOU, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:30 PM
( 10:12 AM ) The Rat
"KNITTING IS THE OPPOSITE OF IDOLIZING MONEY." Iceland's Big Thaw, via the NYT.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:12 AM
Monday, May 16, 2011
( 9:42 PM ) The Rat
FIFTEEN MOMENTS WE KNEW WE WERE IN LOVE, via Nerve. Maybe about half of these fell in the meh-to-annoying range, for me, but I liked the other half.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:42 PM
( 9:31 PM ) The Rat
ARE C-SECTIONS FUELING THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC?
The findings do not prove cause-and-effect, Goldani, of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, told Reuters Health in an email. And there could still be other explanations for the finding, she said.
Still, it's possible that C-sections could directly affect the risk of becoming obese later in life, the researchers speculate.
That's because infants born via C-section are not exposed to the beneficial bacteria in the birth canal, and so they might take longer to accumulate Bifidobacteria and other microbes that could influence their metabolism...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:31 PM
( 8:14 PM ) The Rat
"JUST WHEN I'D PICKED UP THIS AWESOME NEW PAIR OF SHOES, TOO. FIGURES." A runner's take on the coming end of the world.
I like "kwstani"'s comment:
Mark, Not to be nit picky, but my understanding was that the rapture was beginning on May 21. And with that, all the really, really good people would be going to heaven. And then the not so good people would be left behind. So, if you start noticing that there are some people missing and you are still here... well, I guess we can figure out what that means...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:14 PM
( 6:47 PM ) The Rat
WHERE A WAITRESS STANDS CHANGES HER TIPS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:47 PM
( 6:38 PM ) The Rat
CHINESE VILLAGERS 'DESCENDED FROM ROMAN SOLDIERS.' Cf. that finding that 1 in 200 men—as in, all over the world, not just in the regions he conquered—are direct descendants of Genghis Khan. I'm not actually clear on how he had any time left for raiding/pillaging/etc.?
Tests found that the DNA of some villagers in Liqian, on the fringes of the Gobi Desert in north-western China, was 56 per cent Caucasian in origin...
Meanwhile, via the L.A. Times by way of A&LD: 87-year-old Nigerian faith healer has 86 wives.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:38 PM
( 6:25 PM ) The Rat
MAGLITE: SHINING THE LIGHT ON MADE IN THE U.S.A. Ratty remains partial to Surefire, which also still manufactures here... but then she's also never had to pay for one.
"Tony will be the first one to tell you that had this been a publicly owned company, they would have fired him," Hawthorn says. "They would have thought he was nuts. Maybe he is for continuing to do it in this country when it's so difficult. But there's a lot of us in this company that are very thankful that he did."
Maglica says people tell him all the time he could make more money if he stopped insisting on making Maglites in the U.S. And he knows they're right. He just doesn't care...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:25 PM
( 6:04 PM ) The Rat
FOR OHIO STUDENTS, BOXING RINGS BECOME REFUGES, from a February NYT. There's a moving segment on the club mentioned here, Bang 'Em or Hang 'Em, in this Americana podcast.
The cuts to the athletic programs in Toledo were among the most severe in the nation. At the beginning of the school year, the district disbanded all sports teams for middle school students and high school freshmen. It also cut high school cross-country, wrestling, golf and boys' tennis teams, along with all intramural activities, including cheerleading and dance teams.
"It wounded us pretty good," said Ed Scrutchins, the Toledo district's athletics director. His budget lost $850,000, leaving Mr. Scrutchins with $1 million to finance what remained.
Some parents said they did not have many alternatives when the sports teams were eliminated. They could send their children to boxing clubs and live with the inevitable bruised foreheads and bloodied lips. Or they could leave them alone after school in neighborhoods that are often troubled by gangs and crime.
"I don't like to watch them fight—I cover my eyes and ask someone else to see if they're O.K.," said Tambria Dixson, 35, a nurse's assistant who pays $90 a month to send her three sons to Bang 'Em or Hang 'Em. "Paying for it is a struggle. But the kids in our neighborhood who aren't involved in athletics are getting involved in gangs. So yes, it's worth it"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:04 PM
( 1:16 PM ) The Rat
"YOUR SERVICE IS SUB-FELICITOUS AND YOUR MUSIC BOX PLAYS ONLY THAT MUSIC WHICH WAS CREATED PRIOR TO THE 1860S," via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:16 PM
( 1:12 PM ) The Rat
"REMEMBER BACK IN HIGH SCHOOL WHEN YOU WERE TALKING TO THAT CUTE GIRL YOU REALLY LIKED, BUT YOU COULDN'T TELL IF SHE LIKED YOU BACK, AND YOUR FEAR OF REJECTION PREVENTED YOU FROM EXPRESSING YOUR FEELINGS IN ANY WAY APART FROM NIGHT AFTER NIGHT OF TEARFUL MASTURBATION? REMEMBER WHEN YOU DID THE SAME THING LAST WEEK?" 6 Intimate Details You Can Tell Just By Looking at Someone, via Cracked.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:12 PM
( 1:05 PM ) The Rat
MAN EATING CASHEW BUTTER CAN'T BELIEVE HE WASTED SO MANY YEARS FUCKING AROUND WITH PEANUT BUTTER.
Also see Load of Mulch Dumped in Kind of Ballsy Location and Genuine Love and Respect Only Thing Holding Area Relationship Together.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:05 PM
( 10:05 AM ) The Rat
SCREEN FIXATION AND A.D.H.D.
It's an assertion I've heard many times when a child has attention problems. Sometimes parents make the same point about television: My child can sit and watch for hours—he can't have A.D.H.D.
In fact, a child's ability to stay focused on a screen, though not anywhere else, is actually characteristic of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There are complex behavioral and neurological connections linking screens and attention, and many experts believe that these children do spend more time playing video games and watching television than their peers...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:05 AM
( 9:45 AM ) The Rat
THE WASHINGTON DIET, via City Journal by way of WO.
The latest nutritional thinking has indeed zeroed in on carbohydrates as a likely cause of heart disease. Easily digestible carbs, in particular—starches like potatoes, white rice, and bread from processed flour, as well as refined sugar—make it hard to burn fat and also increase inflammations that can cause heart attacks, several studies have concluded. A 2007 Dutch study of 15,000 women found that those who ate foods with the highest "glycemic load," a measure of portion sizes and of how easily digestible a food is, had the greatest risk of heart disease.
Looking at such evidence, several top medical scientists have concluded that the government's carb-heavy guidelines may actually have harmed public health...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:45 AM
( 9:26 AM ) The Rat
"YO MOMMA IS SO WELL READ SHE COULD TEACH A COURSE ON LITERATURE AT AN ACCREDITED UNIVERSITY."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:26 AM
( 9:13 AM ) The Rat
GREY/RAINING WHERE YOU ARE? DEPRESSED THAT IT'S MONDAY? Here's a thought that always cheers me up.
Also see this, which I mainly like for no. 5.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:13 AM
( 9:05 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:05 AM
( 8:29 AM ) The Rat
SELF-COMPASSION: THE MOST IMPORTANT LIFE SKILL? Interesting, and will do good if it helps cut through the clutter of Tiger mothering vs. self-esteem-at-all-cost. Because eating disorders are particularly intractable (and seem less likely to have as strong a genetic component as does, say, depression), I'm particularly intrigued by the note toward the end re this training having been found helpful to anorexics—there's a little more about that in this NYT article from February; Google Scholar also turns up some hits.
While Neff, Gilbert and other compassion researchers find fault with Chua's hypercritical approach to parenting, they find common ground when it comes to her critique of the West's tendency to hand out empty compliments, give everyone a trophy and thus artificially inflate self-esteem.
Decades of research, particularly in the 1970s and '80s, suggested having high self-esteem is the cornerstone of happy, successful lives. This spurred an emphasis on self-esteem-building in parenting books, schools and even prisons.
But now scientists are realizing they may have been measuring the wrong thing; all the benefits of having high self-esteem are equally found among the self-compassionate, said psychologist Mark Leary, a researcher at Duke University. And when statistically looking at self-compassion alone, the negative aspects of high self-esteem, such as narcissism, disappear.
Where self-compassion is a way of relating to your self—especially when times are tough—self-esteem is a measure of yourself against others. In order to keep self-esteem high, you have to convince yourself you are better (or, preferably, the best), either by denying your faults and pains or by putting others down, and usually both...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:29 AM
( 7:59 AM ) The Rat
"THIS WAS A GUY RUNNING ON GUTS AND MEMORY." Amby Burfoot's tribute to Sammy Wanjiru, who won the 2008 Olympic marathon (among others). Wanjiru died Sunday at his home in Kenya.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:59 AM
Sunday, May 15, 2011
( 3:56 PM ) The Rat
"PUBLIC URINATION AND SLOPPY BOOZEHOUNDS WERE A RELATIVELY RARE SIGHT..." 100th Bay to Breakers Race Older, Wiser, Less Drunk and Disorderly, via IKM.
The hunky Elvises, the line of salmon that run the half marathon in the opposite direction warning joggers to 'turn around' and of course dozens of runners in the buff all upheld the race's longstanding reputation for being downright wild...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:56 PM
( 3:42 PM ) The Rat
TATIANA NIKOLAEVA plays Liadov's Op. 44 Barcarolle. This has never sounded like gondola music to me—good mood music for a rainy afternoon, though.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:42 PM
( 3:37 PM ) The Rat
UH... From program description for Lincoln Center's upcoming (August 4, 6) "Mostly Mozart" production of Don Giovanni.
In this unusual, dramatic new rendering, the human body takes center stage; the singers, who include the 'vocal Renoir' soprano Laura Aikin (Opernwelt), perform on a stark, black stage alongside 16 young actors, who use their bodies to form the set and the props.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:37 PM
( 1:40 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:40 PM
( 10:27 AM ) The Rat
"I ALSO NEED TO BE HONEST IN SAYING I JUST GOT OUT OF MY MOST INTENSE RELATIONSHIP EVER WHICH IS WHY I FEEL SORT OF GIVES ME THIS NEW FOUND PASSION FOR LIFE AND THE URGE TO FIND SOMEONE MEANINGFUL." (And here's a coordinating e-card!) New Tumblr tells you how to fail at online dating, via Nerve.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:27 AM
( 10:24 AM ) The Rat
GEORGE WASHINGTON'S PERSONAL BEER RECIPE. Truly, an amazing man.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:24 AM
( 8:59 AM ) The Rat
"WHY THE FUCK DOES ALEX HAVE CROCS?"
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:59 AM
( 8:44 AM ) The Rat
HOW BIG ARE BLUE WHALES?
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:44 AM
Saturday, May 14, 2011
( 9:09 PM ) The Rat
"THE REAL SECRET LIFE OF GIRLS."
Also see Goldfish Racing, which I learned about from a different TFLN.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:09 PM
( 6:47 PM ) The Rat
TIME IS MONEY, PROFESSOR PROVES (from 2002).
A mathematical formula calculated by a British university professor has found that time actually is money.
According to the equation, the average British minute is worth just over 10 pence (15 cents) to men and eight pence (12 cents) to women.
The formula is: V=(W((100-t)/100))/C, where V is the value of an hour, W is a person's hourly wage, t is the tax rate and C is the local cost of living...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:47 PM
( 6:47 PM ) The Rat
GERMAN GRANDCHILDREN OF NAZIS DELVE INTO PAST.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:47 PM
( 11:42 AM ) The Rat
THE DIE WALKÜRE BROADCAST STARTS AT NOON—this is an approx. 5h10m opera, so though there are two intermissions, I'd get your bathroom breaks in while you still can. Also any activities that produce loud/distracting noises inside your head, like eating Doritos or brushing your teeth.
Also check out the "Precautions" section here for tips on preventing DVT!
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:42 AM
( 11:32 AM ) The Rat
Yet the more successful, Nobel Prize-winning brother was always the more jealous: in 1944, when both were in exile in California, Thomas is said to have been 'upset' to read, in the Authors' League bulletin, that it was Heinrich's books, not his own, which the Nazis despised and burned.
—this book review about the Manns (via A&LD)
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:32 AM
( 9:37 AM ) The Rat
I recently had a technical malfunction with my iPhone. A friend sent me an invitation to a party and I meant to text back, "Hi, I don't want to go to that party," but I was typing quickly and wrote, "Ho, I don't want to go to that party." This friend recently broke up with a good friend of mine after she met another guy at a conference, so there is some sensitivity about her morals. Anyway, now she won't talk to me. What should I do?
—this amusing Atlantic advice column (in other episodes of which one finds the line "Though Attila was in many respects a social conservative, he was also an advocate of postnatal abortion," plus a fun letter from "C.T.," a hassled Asian-American parent, here—so yeah, I'm going to be slowly working my way through the archives)
Edited to add: Also quite fond of the second-to-last letter/response here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:37 AM
( 2:30 AM ) The Rat
GOOD POST AND EVEN BETTER COMMENTS about the New York piece from earlier this week. I agree with the getting-laid point, btw, even though "Mike" overstates it (probably for effect), and even though I was (and am) very sympathetic to Yang's article.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:30 AM
Friday, May 13, 2011
( 8:26 PM ) The Rat
HOW ADVERSITY DULLS OUR PERCEPTIONS.
Adversity, we are told, heightens our senses, imprinting sights and sounds precisely in our memories. But new Weizmann Institute research, which appeared in Nature Neuroscience this week, suggests the exact opposite may be the case: Perceptions learned in an aversive context are not as sharp as those learned in other circumstances. The findings, which hint that this tendency is rooted in our species' evolution, may help to explain how post-traumatic stress syndrome and other anxiety disorders develop in some people...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:26 PM
( 7:57 PM ) The Rat
MARATHON RUNNERS PRACTICE ON ROAD OF DEATH. Damn. (Nearly 10 mins., and requires sound, but very worth it.)
I showed them a video promoting the London 2012 Olympic Games. They were excited and, despite their circumstances, are clearly determined to perform well next year. The Somali Athletics Federation told me that these athletes will be in London—that is, they said, if they stay alive...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:57 PM
( 6:17 PM ) The Rat
RATTY IS NOW OFFICIALLY PRO-SHARK.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:17 PM
( 3:55 PM ) The Rat
THE 'ORIGINAL' IN THE PHRASE ''THE ORIGINAL RELAXATION BROWNIE' seems to me dubious at best...
Flanagan said [the company's statement is] not enough to keep the brownies on store shelves in his city.
"Even though the product says it's not intended for children's use, its psychedelic packaging and its cartoon character, known as Lazy Larry, indicate otherwise," he said...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:55 PM
( 3:51 PM ) The Rat
A computer glitch corrupted the State Department's annual worldwide lottery for U.S. immigrant visas and the results will be scratched, the Obama administration said Friday, disappointing tens of thousands of would-be immigrants who were notified this year that they had won a chance to come and live legally in the United States.
Nearly 15 million people had entered the 2012 lottery hoping to win one of 50,000 U.S. immigrant visas available under a wild-card program for people who otherwise would have little hope of getting a coveted U.S. visa. Applicants for the random drawing do not have to have the usual family or employer sponsor. The lottery selects 90,000 winners, a total that is then winnowed down through attrition, interviews and strict educational and occupational criteria.
The software glitch caused what is supposed to be a random drawing to select 90 percent of winners from entries submitted on only the first two days of the 30-day registration period that ended Nov. 3, the department said on Friday...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:51 PM
( 3:26 PM ) The Rat
"They took us to a concentration camp… It was, you know, kept as a museum. And it was closed! So we were hanging round outside, and Graham said from the back, he said—'Tell them we're Jewish!'"
—Terry Jones recalling the Python troupe's journey to Bavaria to film two episodes in German (even though none of the troupe could really speak German) in "Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus!", out this week from Radio 4
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:26 PM
( 1:50 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:50 PM
( 1:49 PM ) The Rat
ACCORDING TO MY TONGUE, THAT HOLE IS DEFINITELY WIDER, via Discoblog.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:49 PM
( 12:47 PM ) The Rat
THE LAST TOLL BROS. BROADCAST of the '10-'11 season, Die Walküre, will be tomorrow afternoon. God knows there's no other way I'm affording a Ring performance anytime soon.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:47 PM
( 12:46 PM ) The Rat
I CHEATED ON MY HUSBAND TO SECURE BETTER GENES FOR MY CHILDREN. No, I didn't find this by Googling "cheating on my husband to secure better genes for my children"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:46 PM
( 12:45 PM ) The Rat
THE WAR AGAINST CHRISTMAS: HIGH-SPEED PHOTOS OF EXPLODING ORNAMENTS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:45 PM
( 12:44 PM ) The Rat
JAPAN BRA CARRIES MESSAGES OF ENCOURAGEMENT AFTER DISASTER.
The white, bustier-style garment and matching skirt by Triumph are covered with messages from 36 different countries received in the aftermath of the disaster, each accompanied by a tiny flag of the nation that sent it...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:44 PM
( 12:43 PM ) The Rat
FLOWCHART: "HEY, LOOK! A COFFEE POT!"
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:43 PM
( 12:42 PM ) The Rat
SPEAKING OF THE ROYAL WEDDING, there's been a £5,000 bid on Beatrice's hat.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:42 PM
( 12:41 PM ) The Rat
PIPPA MIDDLETON DRAWN INTO COUPLE'S SPAT.
It seems as though the unknown man may have told his girlfriend his views on Pippa and this has not gone down well...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:41 PM
( 12:40 PM ) The Rat
MEET THE WORLD'S SLOWEST MARATHONER.
Mr. Lloyd is doing the 2011 London Marathon. Still. Yes, the same London Marathon that started—and, for everyone else, ended—back on April 17.
In his defense, Lloyd is covering the course horizontally, ensconced in a snail costume...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:40 PM
( 12:39 PM ) The Rat
STILL THE WILD WEST!
Law enforcement and search and rescue officials said that too many travelers are letting technology lull them into a false sense of security.
"There are times when you need to put the GPS down and look out the window," said Howard Paul, veteran search and rescue official with the Colorado Search and Rescue Board, the volunteer organization that coordinates that state's missions...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:39 PM
( 12:38 PM ) The Rat
This is an epidemic… Basically, in the United States, British slang is a bit like a virus—in that once it infects one white person, it grows exponentailly more quickly and starts to affect all other white people. So what'll happen is, if you're in a workplace—non-profit organization, advertising agency perhaps—and one white guy watches a Guy Ritchie movie, he will come into work the next day, and use the word 'wanker.' And then next thing you know, within three days, every person in that office is saying the word 'wanker,' over and over and over again, and it cannot—it cannot be put back in the bottle. Then they'll start saying "Cheers"… and it's all—all sorts of trouble. And—and then you basically have to hope that somehow, some sort of new African-American slang will show up that can wipe out this, and then we start the process all over again when the World Cup starts up.
—Christian Lander in conversation with Matt Frei
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:38 PM
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
( 2:09 PM ) The Rat
SCI-FI IKEA MANUALS, via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:09 PM
( 2:02 PM ) The Rat
Interestingly, Robbins found a professional loophole to the theory that what makes us weird will help us in adult life—teachers.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews, Robbins discovered that some teachers face pressure to conform and fit into a rigid hierarchy much as their students do. "They were saying that the teachers' lounge is just as scary a place as the cafeteria, socially. If you get back into that setting, something about school can cause you to regress and care about popularity that way."
Teachers formed official cliques that students and administrators knew about. In the book, Robbins writes that one Illinois middle school had an invite-only teachers' clique whose name was PIGS, people in good standing: "When an older teacher's beloved dog died, they stole a photo of the dog and built a mock shrine to it, pretending to mourn." The PIGS also ganged up on another colleague by refusing to share teaching materials with her. She has since left the school...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:02 PM
( 1:32 PM ) The Rat
SAY WHAT YOU WILL about Dean Karnazes, 177K in funds raised is pretty respectable. Footage of the finish is here.
Mega-marathoner Dean Karnazes crossed the finish line Tuesday morning after a run across America, completing a remarkable run that had taken him from coast to coast.
Karnazes arrived at the Manhattan studio of a popular morning TV talk show more than two months after he set off from California's Disneyland on Feb. 25...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:32 PM
( 11:07 AM ) The Rat
THIS is totally why it would be a terrible idea for IKM or me to ever be president (as well as being probably the only reason either of us would ever want to)...
Sources told reporters that when Obama first took office, the thought of pressing the button and launching thousands of ICBMs only crossed his mind two or three times a day. Two-and-a-half years into his term, however, the button consumes him at all times, whether he is watching basketball, playing with his children, or lying in his bed at night. During a deficit-reduction meeting last Monday with House Speaker John Boehner, the president's index finger was reportedly resting on the button the entire time without his even realizing it.
"Apropos of nothing, the president approached me one day and said, 'Think about it: There is a button 3 feet away from me, that I, a human being, could press and virtually end the human race. Tell me you wouldn't be slightly tempted to push it,'" Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) said. "Then the president said he often wondered if the exploding bombs would look like a movie in which dozens and dozens of mushroom clouds rise from Earth and can be seen from outer space"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:07 AM
( 10:43 AM ) The Rat
PARENTS' MARITAL STRIFE AFFECTS TODDLERS' SLEEP.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:43 AM
( 2:38 AM ) The Rat
"HELLO, THIS IS ALEC BALDWIN, FROM TELEVISION." Inventive pledge drive ad for public radio. I still have only ever seen him in The Hunt for Red October (which you should see!—again, if you already have!) and The Departed (meh), but love the deadpan delivery in this. Also I was charmed to see him in an orchestra seat two rows ahead of me and JN, at a matinee of Don Pasquale this November—and even more charmed when he applauded, loudly and enthusiastically, at totally the wrong place in the music. (I first heard not this ad, but a shorter and funnier one along the same lines, in the January 23 Americana podcast.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:38 AM
( 2:29 AM ) The Rat
THIS BOOK (excerpted in the May 8 More or Less) sounds like it'd be a fun read (or is that just my recovering-math-major geekiness talking?). Possible connection between the line below and Dinesen's "The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears, or the sea"?
The more times a person's heart is broken, the nearer they will tend to move to the sea...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:29 AM
( 2:11 AM ) The Rat
If you can find meaning in the type of running you need to do to stay on this team, chances are you can find meaning in another absurd pastime—life.
—Robert Towne, screenplay for Pre
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:11 AM
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
( 8:43 AM ) The Rat
QUICK ADDENDUM to last night's post: Yang's article is lacking a number of things (JWB, for instance, almost immediately wanted to know whether there was going to be any mention at all of the experience of Asian-American females, in what was left of the article), but one of the first that comes to mind, for me, is the how-can-this-not-be-obvious point that Asian-American immigrants of recent generations are far from the first* to have gone through the things Yang is describing. Our experience isn't exactly the same as that of prior generations of immigrants, of course, and there's value to writing of and discussing—and, one hopes, whining only minimally about—our particular case. But Yang's article does seem to me to contain a note of exceptionalism (what's that line in Equus [an execrable play, I know—but come on, Richard Burton could elevate anything]—"Why me? Why me? Account for me!"), as though all of these struggles were absolutely unique to us. But Mao's account of being taken to a white girlfriend's parents' house and finding that the family "sat around cooking together and playing Scrabble," for instance—an image and experience that I suspect will resonate with lots of first-generation immigrants—is almost hilariously reminiscent of endless scenes in, e.g., early/middle Philip Roth (which is just one reason for my longstanding obsession with Roth). There's a sequence in The Professor of Desire (which is, I hasten to add, very far from being Roth's best work) where the immigrant father proudly bestows on his literary-intellectual son a set of commemorative Shakespeare coins—"You just collect one a month"—and which has always stuck in my mind as an exemplar of the distance so often found between even the most loving, anxious-to-understand-and-assimilate immigrant parents, and their immigrant children.
There's an essay on Roth by HB somewhere (prob. an introduction to one of his Chelsea House collections, like maybe this one?)—I'm not at a library at the moment or I would dig it up—toward the end of which he gives a catalog of some characteristically Rothian themes, among them: "the pain between parents and children." "You know what I like about that phrase?" I said to ET upon first encountering it (ca. late '90s). "There's no verb." There's no verb anyway, that's to say, simply because of the nature of parenthood (and the nature of childhood!), but—in my experience—immigrant and language-barrier issues have a force-multiplying effect here: For us first-generationers, you might say, there's even less of a verb.**
*I was thinking about this, in part, while glancing again at the Amazon reviews for Call It Sleep, in particular the one-star review by "Caraculiambro," and the responses to it, esp. the one by "D. Lamont." I'm not sure any group gets to claim "The majority culture can never imagine our immigrant experience!" so long as this continues to be a more or less five-starred book. Not that Amazon rankings are always accurate, of course—and the group that would read Henry Roth is naturally likely to be self-selecting to begin with—but crowdsourced reviews do tell us some things. I was heartened by "D. Lamont"'s comment because s/he, I would imagine, probably did not figure out that point on account of being from exactly the same kind of origins as the Schearls are in the book.
**For another beautifully rendered account of "outsider" life (in this case, among Indians in postwar Trinidad), and of the struggles it entails for parents and children, read this... ideally, while bearing in mind that Naipaul created Mohun Biswas in the image of his own father.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:43 AM
( 8:35 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:35 AM
Monday, May 09, 2011
( 10:29 PM ) The Rat
"'THE LOUDEST DUCK GETS SHOT' IS A CHINESE PROVERB. 'THE NAIL THAT STICKS OUT GETS HAMMERED DOWN' IS A JAPANESE ONE. ITS WESTERN CORRELATIVE: 'THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS THE GREASE.'" A mostly thoughtful essay from New York magazine on what assimilation and American success mean for Asian-Americans, via WC.
I made the conscious decision some years ago that even though I would very likely be happier living overseas, I would not want to subject my children to another emigration—which, since I want children even more than I want a box at La Scala, means I'm pretty much stuck here, at least for the next couple of decades. Like most Asians who grew up predominantly among upper-middle-class whites, I wasn't subjected to a particularly significant amount of overt racism growing up—but there were nonetheless reasons I came to feel as strongly as I do about the trauma of emigration.* (Some of those reasons can still come back to me, entirely unexpectedly, as fragments from another life—as they did a few weeks ago, for instance, when I suddenly remembered the noise funeral processions would make as they passed through the streets of the city where I spent my childhood summers in Taiwan [and where my parents still live today]. Those sounds and sights seem almost to belong to another person's memories—I'm thinking primarily of processions and rituals I watched a quarter-century ago or longer, though most of the same rituals continue to be observed in Taiwan today—but in the time since, of course, words such as "funeral" or "ritual" have become detached from those images for me, and reattached to entirely different ones, ones to which I have no visceral connection.**) This article touches on some of those reasons.
*The single book (fiction or non-) that, in my view, will teach you most about the American immigrant experience is this one. "I can't bear to re-read that again," HB told me many years ago, "—it's just too sad." Yes. (For the best recent-ish author on emigration/deracination, I would go with this guy.)
**For probably my favorite expression of the sense of dislocation all travelers and émigrés know, go here. My second-favorite is likely Stevenson's "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign." But a first-generation immigrant, whether traveling or not, is in some sense a foreigner everywhere.
Entrance to Stuyvesant, one of the most competitive public high schools in the country, is determined solely by performance on a test: The top 3.7 percent of all New York City students who take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test hoping to go to Stuyvesant are accepted. There are no set-asides for the underprivileged or, conversely, for alumni or other privileged groups. There is no formula to encourage 'diversity' or any nebulous concept of 'well-roundedness' or 'character.' Here we have something like pure meritocracy. This is what it looks like: Asian-Americans, who make up 12.6 percent of New York City, make up 72 percent of the high school. [...]
Somewhere near the middle of his time at Stuyvesant, a vague sense of discontent started to emerge within Mao. He had always felt himself a part of a mob of 'nameless, faceless Asian kids,' who were 'like a part of the décor of the place.' He had been content to keep his head down and work toward the goal shared by everyone at Stuyvesant: Harvard. But around the beginning of his senior year, he began to wonder whether this march toward academic success was the only, or best, path.
'You can't help but feel like there must be another way,' he explains over a bowl of phô. 'It's like, we're being pitted against each other while there are kids out there in the Midwest who can do way less work and be in a garage band or something—and if they're decently intelligent and work decently hard in school...'
Mao began to study the racially inflected social hierarchies at Stuyvesant, where, in a survey undertaken by the student newspaper this year, slightly more than half of the respondents reported that their friends came from within their own ethnic group. His attention focused on the mostly white (and Manhattan-dwelling) group whose members seemed able to manage the crushing workload while still remaining socially active. 'The general gist of most high-school movies is that the pretty cheerleader gets with the big dumb jock, and the nerd is left to bide his time in loneliness. But at some point in the future,' he says, 'the nerd is going to rule the world, and the dumb jock is going to work in a carwash.
'At Stuy, it's completely different: If you looked at the pinnacle, the girls and the guys are not only good-looking and socially affable, they also get the best grades and star in the school plays and win election to student government. It all converges at the top. It's like training for high society. It was jarring for us Chinese kids. You got the sense that you had to study hard, but it wasn't enough.'
Mao was becoming clued in to the fact that there was another hierarchy behind the official one that explained why others were getting what he never had—'a high-school sweetheart' figured prominently on this list—and that this mysterious hierarchy was going to determine what happened to him in life. 'You realize there are things you really don't understand about courtship or just acting in a certain way. Things that somehow come naturally to people who go to school in the suburbs and have parents who are culturally assimilated.' I pressed him for specifics, and he mentioned that he had visited his white girlfriend's parents' house the past Christmas, where the family had 'sat around cooking together and playing Scrabble.' This ordinary vision of suburban-American domesticity lingered with Mao: Here, at last, was the setting in which all that implicit knowledge 'about social norms and propriety' had been transmitted. There was no cram school that taught these lessons...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:29 PM