Friday, September 30, 2011
( 10:15 AM ) The Rat
BELGIUM'S 'MR. PENGUIN' DREAMS OF ANTARCTIC FUNERAL. Hee!
Belgian pensioner Alfred David dreams one day he'll find eternal rest in the icy waters somewhere near Antarctica, dressed in his penguin suit and laid out in a coffin decorated with penguins.
The 79-year-old "Monsieur Pingouin," as he is known to locals in his Brussels neighbourhood, dons his favourite hooded black-and-white penguin costume as he looks back at more than 40 years of obsession.
"My ultimate dream is to be buried in a deep ocean close to where penguins live," David told Reuters.
David's life changed in May 1968 when his hip was injured in a car accident. His resulting limp was characterised by his colleagues as a waddle, and they dubbed him Mr. Penguin.
As a consequence he embraced an interest in the flightless sea bird and began collecting everything he could find that had a link with the animal...
Also: The new Ig Nobel winners have been announced.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:15 AM
( 8:27 AM ) The Rat
HOW EXERCISE CAN STRENGTHEN THE BRAIN, via the NYT.
More interesting, though, was what was happening inside their brain cells. When the scientists examined tissue samples from different portions of the exercised animals’ brains, they found markers of upwelling mitochondrial development in all of the tissues. Some parts of their brains showed more activity than others, but in each of the samples, the brain cells held newborn mitochondria.
There was no comparable activity in brain cells from the sedentary mice.
This is the first report to show that, in mice at least, two months of exercise training "is sufficient stimulus to increase mitochondrial biogenesis," Dr. Davis and his co-authors write in the study.
The finding is an important "piece in the puzzle implying that exercise can lead to mitochondrial biogenesis in tissues other than muscle," says Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of medicine at McMaster Children's Hospital, who was not involved with this experiment but has conducted many exercise studies.
The mitochondrial proliferation in the animals' brains has implications that are wide-ranging and heartening. "There is evidence" from other studies "that mitochondrial deficits in the brain may play a role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases," including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, Dr. Davis says. Having a larger reservoir of mitochondria in your brain cells could provide some buffer against those conditions, he says.
Dr. Tarnopolsky agrees. "Epidemiological studies show that long-term runners have a lower risk of neurological disease," he points out...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:27 AM
Thursday, September 29, 2011
( 11:26 PM ) The Rat
PREGNANT WOMEN WHO EXERCISE PROTECT THEIR OFFSPRING AGAINST LONG-TERM NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES, STUDY SUGGESTS.
If you are pregnant, here's another reason to work out: you will reduce the chances of your new baby developing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, later in life. A new research report published online in The FASEB Journal shows that mice bred to develop a neurodegenerative disease roughly equivalent to Alzheimer's disease showed fewer signs of the disease and greater brain plasticity later in life when their mothers exercised regularly than those whose mothers did not exercise.
"This research provides an experimental rationale for the effects of beneficial behavioral stimuli experienced by the pregnant mother affecting the disease status of an as yet-unborn child. Epigenetic alterations (alterations in gene and protein expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence) provide a most probable mechanism by which mothers could have transferred their own behavioral experience to their progeny," said Kathy Keyvani, M.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Institute of Pathology and Neuropathology at the University Hospital Essen in Essen, Germany...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:26 PM
( 9:34 PM ) The Rat
GINGER CURRY AND COPIOUS CUPS OF TEA: WORLD'S OLDEST MARATHON RUNNER, 100, REVEALS SECRETS OF HIS SUCCESS. Purely by coincidence, I had a ginger curry in the slow cooker when I happened upon this article. Maybe I should start up an extra batch...
The quick-footed centenarian, who has completed seven marathons since turning 89, has become the first person to sign up to the 2012 Edinburgh race.
And he has revealed the key to conquering his daily 10-mile training regime is eating plenty of ginger curry and drinking copious amounts of tea.
'I am not a learned person in any shape or form. To me, the secret is being happy, doing charity work, staying healthy and being positive,' he said.
'If someone says I must stop running I ignore them—invariably they're younger than me..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:34 PM
( 9:19 PM ) The Rat
"[THE FALL OF] THE BRANCH, WHICH WAS 98 FEET LONG AND 7 FEET AROUND, DID NOT CHANGE THE GENERAL SHERMAN'S STATUS AS THE LARGEST TREE..." Yikes!
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:19 PM
( 8:45 PM ) The Rat
DOES ABSENCE ACTUALLY MAKE THE HEART GROW FONDER?
For the past decade, Iris Krasnow has spent the month of July apart from her husband of 23 years, Chuck. For most of those summers, she was a counselor at a summer camp in the Adirondacks, where her sons were campers. Since their kids left home, Krasnow and her husband have continued the tradition by taking working vacations on opposite ends of the country, with Krasnow writing in California while her husband launched a rustic furniture company in Maryland. The separation allowed them to bloom as individuals, she explains in her new book The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married. And when they reunite, they are "hot to see each other, high on our personal accomplishments, and purged of the inevitable resentments that arise in the grind of the ordinary that long marriage becomes."
Krasnow interviewed more than 200 women from different educational, social, and economic brackets, all of whom are in long-term marriages like hers (she defines "long term" as 15-plus years) in an effort to figure out what makes unbroken unions work. In addition to relating various pieces of more predictable advice (keep having sex!), many of Krasnow's subjects shared her experience of prolonged separations, crediting the considerable time they had spent apart from their spouses with making their marriages stronger.
A review of relevant research confirms that there can be positive aspects to time spent apart from a spouse—at least for wives. (Like Krasnow's book, many of the sociological and psychological studies on the subject focus on separation's impact on wives, rather than husbands.) This time apart can take many different forms: The studies don't just talk about couples who take separate vacations or summer jaunts of the sort Krasnow and her husband have enjoyed. Research has shown that women who are married to fishermen and truckers—careers that can separate spouses for weeks or even months—also profit from time alone. [...]
There is, however, one situation in which separation does not have many benefits: When one member of a military couple is deployed in a war zone. Not surprisingly, a 2010 study from the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the spouses of deployed Army members were more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders than the wives of nondeployed soldiers. As military wife Alison Buckholtz wrote for DoubleX in her "Deployment Diary" series, when every doorbell ringing could bring news of your husband's death, it's hard to see any benefit to his absence...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:45 PM
( 1:15 PM ) The Rat
ANATOLIAN CULTURES & FOOD FESTIVAL 2011, at the Orange Co. Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa next week. If there are at least two of you going, check out the Groupon.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:15 PM
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
( 11:17 PM ) The Rat
WHY WOMEN HAVE STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEMS THAN MEN.
Women are known to have a lower incidence of cancer—men have a two- to five-fold greater risk of developing the disease. Women are also better able to survive trauma, and, according to some reports, don't get as seriously ill from bacterial and viral infections.
In a new paper, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium argue these sex-specific health disparities may be due, at least in part, to tiny pieces of genetic material called microRNAs. The main function of microRNAs in cells is to turn off, or "silence," specific genes. The researchers say microRNAs located on the female X chromosome may give women an immune system advantage over males.
While the researchers' idea is certainly debatable, the paper "raises awareness of how little we consider the influence of sex on immune responses," said Eleanor Fish, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto in Canada, who was not involved in the work...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:17 PM
( 10:15 PM ) The Rat
PRINTABLE PRACTICE CHART. This pretty much sums up my childhood.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:15 PM
( 8:56 PM ) The Rat
GERMANY'S FAMOUS CROSS-EYED OPOSSUM HEIDI DIES.
The cause of Heidi's profoundly crossed eyes remains a mystery, although the zoo's website suggests the way she was fed when she was hand-reared in the United States may have played a role—as well as the fact she was overweight, which led to "fatty deposits behind the eyes which are pressing the eyeballs slightly out of the eye sockets"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:56 PM
( 12:18 PM ) The Rat
I am always surprised to see some people demanding the time of others and meeting a most obliging response. Both sides have in view the reason for which the time is asked and neither regards the time itself—as if nothing is being asked for and nothing given. They are trifling with life's most precious commodity, being deceived because it is an intangible thing, not open to inspection and therefore reckoned very cheap—in fact, almost without any value. People are delighted to accept pensions and gratuities, for which they hire out their labor or their support or their services. But nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing. But if death threatens these same people, you will see them praying to their doctors; if they are in fear of capital punishment, you will see them prepared to spend their all to stay alive. So inconsistent are they in their feelings. But if each of us could have the tally of his future years set before him, as we can of our past years, how alarmed would be those who saw only a few years ahead, and how carefully would they use them! And yet it is easy to organize an amount, however small, which is assured; we have to be more careful in preserving what will cease at an unknown point.
No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king's command or a people's favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:18 PM
( 8:58 AM ) The Rat
AN ONION-ESQUE HEADLINE via ScienceDaily.
Also, this seems dubious to me. I thought teenagers didn't really stop being idiots until they were about 49 or so.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:58 AM
( 6:34 AM ) The Rat
PASTA BY DESIGN, via WC.
The shape of each is described in elaborate mathematical formulas and shown in a technical illustration. There's also a pasta family tree that groups the shapes into categories, like solid or hollow, smooth or striated, twisted or bunched...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:34 AM
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
( 10:46 PM ) The Rat
"AND I KNOW I JUST SAID THERE ARE NO RULES BUT I LIED. THERE'S ONE..." via ATIAC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:46 PM
( 8:48 PM ) The Rat
WHICH ANGRY BIRD ARE YOU? "You're the black Angry Bird. You have a short temper and if anybody messes with you, you're bound to explode." News flash.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:48 PM
( 6:34 PM ) The Rat
He hung Jeremy, his blazer, on Anthony, the peg.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:34 PM
( 4:13 PM ) The Rat
OOH NOM! Look who's come to New York!
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:13 PM
( 3:24 PM ) The Rat
"DR. KAREN APLIN, OF OXFORD UNIVERSITY'S DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS, AND DR. PAUL WILLIAMS, FROM READING UNIVERSITY'S METEOROLOGY DEPARTMENT, BOTH COMBINE CAREERS AS ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTISTS WITH A LOVE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC." This is actually an interesting study, but still, I can't help thinking that that sentence ought to cue some kind of "bow chicka wow wow" music...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:24 PM
( 1:24 PM ) The Rat
"IT IS THE KIND OF MATING THAT WOULD MAKE A GOOD VIDEO GAME." For Deep-Sea Squid, Same-Sex Sex Is Only Half the Story, via the NYT, who are just the sort of squares who'd think there was any kind of mating that couldn't be made into a video game.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:24 PM
( 1:06 PM ) The Rat
FOR WOMEN, RISK OF DEPRESSION FALLS AS COFFEE INTAKE RISES. Some of us may have already noticed this phenomenon...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:06 PM
( 1:05 PM ) The Rat
"I'LL BUY YOU ALL THE CRAB CAKES THEY HAVE." There's never been another website that made me want to reach through the screen and hand its author unlimited beers, as much as this one does.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:05 PM
( 1:01 PM ) The Rat
WORLD'S SHORTEST BOOK?
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:01 PM
Monday, September 26, 2011
( 8:16 PM ) The Rat
"THE KUGELMASS EPISODE." Fun Woody Allen short story I first discovered ca. '87.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:16 PM
( 2:09 PM ) The Rat
THE WAIT WAIT CREW PAY TRIBUTE to Arch West, inventor of Doritos (inventor of the Dorito?), who died last week at 97. This really might be the most disgusting Sandwich Monday I've seen yet.
It looks like a Doritos Pod. Is this where Doritos come from?
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:09 PM
( 1:56 PM ) The Rat
DRESS WITCHES IN PINK AND AVOID WHITE PAPER TO PREVENT RACISM IN NURSERIES, EXPERT SAYS. Reminding me of when KB told me about a line in a trailer she'd just seen, for a movie satirizing race relations in an inner-city school: "Man, even the chalk is white!"
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:56 PM
( 10:40 AM ) The Rat
IT'S OPENING NIGHT (with live streaming)! Woot-woot!
Edited to add: You can apparently follow red-carpet arrivals etc. on their Twitter feed... if you're the sort of person who follows red-carpet arrivals on Twitter feeds.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:40 AM
Sunday, September 25, 2011
( 10:16 PM ) The Rat
The Halcyon-Day courtship had been whirlwind. DeDe and Beauchamp were married in June 1973 on the sunlit slopes of Halcyon Hill, the bride's family estate in Hillsborough. At her own insistence, the bride was barefoot. She wore a peasant dress by Adolfo of Saks Fifth Avenue. Her maid of honor and Bennington roommate, Muffy van Wyck, recited selections from Kahlil Gibran, while a string quartet played the theme from Elvira Madigan.
After the wedding, the bride's mother, Frannie Halcyon, told reporters: "We're so proud of our DeDe. She's always been such an individualist."
—Tales of the City
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:16 PM
( 12:17 PM ) The Rat
PROPOSED FACEBOOK BUTTONS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:17 PM
( 11:53 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:53 AM
( 10:55 AM ) The Rat
WITH NEW 'TIMELINE' FEATURE, FACEBOOK GOES ETERNAL (OR AT LEAST TRIES TO). This reminds me of two things: 1) the premise of the (terrible) movie The Final Cut and 2) various op-eds that have run over the years on the theme of teaching the Internet to forget. There's also been at least one book on the subject, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger's Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age.
But these things would be interesting to me anyway, as someone who studies modernism, with its fascination with time and with forgetting. I doubt we could emotionally survive really remembering every era of our own pasts sharply and accurately—and how we approached the present would change radically, probably not for the better, if we tried. (What would truly remembering our own pasts mean for love affairs, just for starters? It's uncomfortable enough—even with the level of forgetting and selective focus nature has mercifully provided*—being aware fundamentally of the extent to which we all are compendia of our past loves. Hell, to this day I still print one letter of the alphabet after the way the guy did that I had a crush on in 1994.) How we think and act even shifts according to whether we're self-narrating more in third person or in first—which is another thing Facebook contributed to disrupting, when it first encouraged us to start posting status updates: Suddenly we were all minor celebrities, writing our own press release-lets. (I always think of a moment in The Rose and the Yew Tree—by Agatha Christie, but published pseudonymously as Mary Westmacott—where the narrator is remembering having thought to himself, when he was a very little boy, "Here's Hugh going down the stairs...")
I suppose won't know for awhile (if ever) how much decisions and redesigns of this kind, on the part of Facebook et al., actually affect individual behavior—still, despite its usefulness, social networking does always remind me at some level of this little piece by Christopher Hitchens.
*Except to people like this.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:55 AM
( 9:16 AM ) The Rat
DORMS GO EXTREME TO LURE STUDENTS, via IKM. Whatever happened to "You'll have bread and water and you'll like it"?
While it may sound like a typical apartment floor plan, The Retreat offers amenities you can't find in a dorm, including a clubhouse with two tanning beds, movie theater, sound-proof music rooms, salt-water pool and volleyball and basketball court...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:16 AM
( 9:08 AM ) The Rat
NEW YORK, PHEW YORK INCLUDES AROMAS OF EVERYTHING FROM HOT DOGS TO HORSE MANURE. I hope they remembered to include the overwhelming odor of despair.
"As much as we wish this city only smelled like cinnamon and cocoa… it doesn't."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:08 AM
Saturday, September 24, 2011
( 12:41 PM ) The Rat
"A SORDID TALE OF LOVE, JEALOUSY, A CONTRACT KILLER AND KITCHEN CONDIMENTS," via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:41 PM
( 2:12 AM ) The Rat
People expect me to be this guy who can walk into a dark room, snap my fingers, and turn on the lights. Or they want me to pound my fist on the hood of a car, and start the engine. I can't do it. I've tried! I think the silliest request I ever got was when somebody asked me to quiet the animals in a zoo.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:12 AM
Friday, September 23, 2011
( 10:11 AM ) The Rat
"POLICE ARE SORT OF CHALKING IT UP TO A LANGUAGE BARRIER."
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:11 AM
( 9:45 AM ) The Rat
"I'M REMINDED OF BANDS WITH NAMES LIKE 'WHEN PEOPLE WERE SHORTER AND LIVED NEAR THE WATER,'" via RT.
It's not just the length of the name, but the improvised spelling and capitalization. (And believe me, we hear from shoe companies if we get it wrong.) It's ASICS, not Asics; adidas, not Adidas; GEL, not Gel. The Saucony shoe above is Stabil, not Stable, and it's ProGrid, not Pro Grid, while Pearl Izumi's shoe gets a capital "S" in the middle of the word. The Nike Free 5.0? Oh, that's V4 of the 5.0. Got it...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:45 AM
( 9:10 AM ) The Rat
THE AMISH BERNIE MADOFF.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:10 AM
( 9:09 AM ) The Rat
It's easier to write about Socrates than about a young woman or a cook.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:09 AM
Thursday, September 22, 2011
( 10:08 PM ) The Rat
When Andover High School cross-country runner Josh Ripley heard the screams of Lakeville South runner Mark Paulauskas, Josh knew he needed to help. While other competitors in the Applejack Invite in Lakeville ran by, Josh stopped to see what was wrong.
In the first mile of a 2-mile junior varsity race held Sept. 16, Josh found Mark holding his ankle and bleeding profusely. Worried that Mark had punctured his Achilles heel, Josh carried the wounded runner for a half a mile to get him to his coach and parents. After making sure Mark was in good hands, Josh jumped back into the race.
It turns out Mark had been "spiked," meaning he was stepped on or came in contact with pointed metal spikes some runners wear on their shoes to get better traction. Mark was taken to a hospital where he received more than 20 stitches and is in a brace/boot to immobilize the area so the stitches do not pop out...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:08 PM
( 11:30 AM ) The Rat
"...AND BRING A CHANGE OF CLOTHES."
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:30 AM
( 10:19 AM ) The Rat
NATIONAL PARKS AND FORESTS WAIVE FEES SATURDAY FOR PUBLIC LANDS DAY.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:19 AM
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
( 10:27 PM ) The Rat
"40 VARIETIES [...] INCLUDING FOIE GRAS AND COFFEE." Via JWB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:27 PM
( 10:04 PM ) The Rat
A new survey shows the average person tells four lies a day, or 1,460 a year for a total of 88,000 by the age of 60, and the most common lie is: "I'm fine."
—spotted on the interwebs
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:04 PM
( 9:40 PM ) The Rat
METAMAUS BOOK TRAILER. Um.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:40 PM
( 8:51 PM ) The Rat
Men owe us what we imagine they will give us. We must forgive them this debt.
—Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:51 PM
( 8:16 AM ) The Rat
"...UNLESS YOU'RE ASIAN," via Failbook.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:16 AM
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
( 5:38 PM ) The Rat
HOW DO AMERICANS SPEND THEIR DAYS? via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:38 PM
( 4:16 PM ) The Rat
These mostly graying men scarfing macaroni casserole with Shorter might've had a photo of the great marathoner up on their college dorm walls. Maybe that black-and-white shot of Shorter gliding through the streets of Munich, running all alone for the final nine miles, or the picture of him on the medal platform, standing proudly yet circumspectly as the gold medal was laid around his neck, mute proof that in 1972, during all the clamor and doubt of the Vietnam War era, an American man could prevail in a race of supreme difficulty.
This mythic figure, Frank Shorter, sits rumple-haired across the kitchen table from them, unreeling one of his greatest hits. He tells the story of the Munich Massacre at the '72 Games, of waking up on the dorm balcony because his roommate, the 800-meter runner Dave Wottle, was honeymooning with his bride in their bedroom. Shorter describes staring across the courtyard at a hooded terrorist holding an Uzi. Shorter tells of following the events on local TV in those pre-CNN days, with Prefontaine translating because he grew up speaking German. Shorter tells of agonizing with Kenny Moore about how to approach the Olympic Marathon, Moore choosing to dedicate his race to the 11 murdered Israeli athletes, Shorter saying no, the thing is to not give the horror a thought, to shut the pain away in a small, still spot inside of you, to block it out with discipline and order, and to channel your anger, guilt, and fear into the unforgiving yet redemptive act of running, one foot in front of the other.
Shorter did not tell his good friends Kenny Moore or Steve Prefontaine, nor does he tell the star-struck men in this bright kitchen on a dark winter night nearly 40 years later, the true source of his discipline, the silent boyhood suffering that taught Frank Shorter how to ride his pain...
—"Frank's Story," RW, October 2011
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:16 PM
( 1:29 PM ) The Rat
A LITTLE DECEPTION HELPS PUSH ATHLETES TO THE LIMIT, via the NYT. For more on this, also see the Radiolab episode "Limits."
Then Dr. Thompson asked the cyclists to race against an avatar, a figure of a cyclist on a computer screen in front them. Each rider was shown two avatars. One was himself, moving along a virtual course at the rate he was actually pedaling the stationary bicycle. The other figure was moving at the pace of the cyclist’s own best effort—or so the cyclists were told.
In fact, the second avatar was programmed to ride faster than the cyclist ever had—using 2 percent more power, which translates into a 1 percent increase in speed.
Told to race against what they thought was their own best time, the cyclists ended up matching their avatars on their virtual rides, going significantly faster than they ever had gone before.
While a 2 percent increase in power might seem small, it is enough to make a big difference in a competitive event that lasts four to five minutes, like cycling for 4,000 meters. At the elite level in sports, a 1 percent increase in speed can determine whether an athlete places in a race or comes in somewhere farther back in the pack.
The improved times observed in his experiment, said Dr. Thompson, are "not just day-to-day variability, but a true change in performance." And they give rise to some perplexing questions.
What limits how fast a person can run or swim or cycle or row? Is it just the body—do fatigued muscles just give out at a certain point? Or is the limit set by a mysterious "central governor" in the brain, as Timothy Noakes, professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, has called it, that determines pacing and effort and, ultimately, performance?
Until recently, exercise physiologists have mostly focused on the muscles, hearts and lungs of athletes, asking whether fatigue comes because the body has reached its limit.
But athletes themselves have long insisted that mental factors are paramount. Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the four-minute mile, once said: "It is the brain, not the heart or lungs that is the critical organ. It's the brain"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:29 PM
( 1:14 PM ) The Rat
"LYING BEHIND THE THEORY WAS THE OLD ROMANTIC NEED TO ASSERT THE SELF IN THE FACE OF ANYTHING THAT THREATENS ITS METAPHYSICAL FREEDOM: TO ESTABLISH, IN EMERSON'S PHRASE, AN ORIGINAL RELATION TO THE UNIVERSE..." Intermittently useful review of The Anatomy of Influence (and of its author), by William Deresiewicz for TNR.
Romanticism sought to overcome the world of death, in the wake of the loss of religious explanations and comforts, by creating what Stevens called "supreme fictions": new systems of symbolic meaning to redeem the cold universe of matter. Bloom sees gnostic ideas—Emerson's Over-soul, Whitman's "real Me"—at the center of those attempts; but more to the point, gnosticism serves as a supreme fiction for him. Beneath the jargon and the self-inflation, there is in Bloom an undersong of yearning, of spiritual hunger, a lonely person's need for solace and belief. What eloquence his writing has—its subsidence, sometimes, into calm simplicity—what claims his work to be the thing to which he says all criticism should aspire, wisdom literature, originates in this urge. ("The ultimate use of Shakespeare is to let him teach you to think too well, to whatever truth you can sustain without perishing.") The pathos of his thought, as he wrestles the poetic angels for their blessing, lies just in the fact that he both believes and disbelieves his fables of redemption. The ecstatic certainties of Blake or Whitman—imagination's infinitude, the soul's immortality—are not for such as him. He is condemned, instead, to Stevens's melancholy skepticism. Supreme fictions, but only fictions—held together, for the space of the verse, by poetic lines of force...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:14 PM
Monday, September 19, 2011
( 6:36 PM ) The Rat
WHAT IF THE SECRET TO SUCCESS IS FAILURE? via TG.
As Levin watched the progress of those KIPP alumni, he noticed something curious: the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class. Those skills weren't enough on their own to earn students a B.A., Levin knew. But for young people without the benefit of a lot of family resources, without the kind of safety net that their wealthier peers enjoyed, they seemed an indispensable part of making it to graduation day.
What appealed to Levin about the list of character strengths that Seligman and Peterson compiled was that it was presented not as a finger-wagging guilt trip about good values and appropriate behavior but as a recipe for a successful and happy life. He was wary of the idea that KIPP's aim was to instill in its students "middle-class values," as though well-off kids had some depth of character that low-income students lacked. [...]
Duckworth's early research showed that measures of self-control can be a more reliable predictor of students' grade-point averages than their I.Q.s. But while self-control seemed to be a critical ingredient in attaining basic success, Duckworth came to feel it wasn't as relevant when it came to outstanding achievement. People who accomplished great things, she noticed, often combined a passion for a single mission with an unswerving dedication to achieve that mission, whatever the obstacles and however long it might take. She decided she needed to name this quality, and she chose the word "grit."
She developed a test to measure grit, which she called the Grit Scale. It is a deceptively simple test, in that it requires you to rate yourself on just 12 questions, from "I finish whatever I begin" to "I often set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one." It takes about three minutes to complete, and it relies entirely on self-report—and yet when Duckworth took it out into the field, she found it was remarkably predictive of success. At Penn, high grit ratings allowed students with relatively low college-board scores to nonetheless achieve high G.P.A.s. Duckworth and her collaborators gave their grit test to more than 1,200 freshman cadets as they entered West Point and embarked on the grueling summer training course known as Beast Barracks. The military has developed its own complex evaluation, called the Whole Candidate Score, to judge incoming cadets and predict which of them will survive the demands of West Point; it includes academic grades, a gauge of physical fitness and a Leadership Potential Score. But at the end of Beast Barracks, the more accurate predictor of which cadets persisted and which ones dropped out turned out to be Duckworth's 12-item grit questionnaire...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:36 PM
( 5:35 PM ) The Rat
REMOVING THE VOWELS, via Failbook.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:35 PM
( 3:59 PM ) The Rat
"IT IS A PRETTY ACCURATE CROSS-SECTION OF YOUR ARTERIES." The Wait Wait staff eat the Mac 'N Cheese Big Daddy Patty Melt.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:59 PM
( 3:51 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:51 PM
Sunday, September 18, 2011
( 11:39 PM ) The Rat
She stood before him, her face raised; her lips were not drawn, but closed softly, yet the shape of her mouth was too definite on her face, a shape of pain and tenderness, and resignation. In his face she saw suffering that was made old, as if it had been part of him for a long time, because it was accepted, and it looked not like a wound, but like a scar.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:39 PM
( 5:01 PM ) The Rat
SCHOOL: IT'S WAY MORE BORING THAN WHEN YOU WERE THERE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:01 PM
( 2:59 PM ) The Rat
"...EXCEPT THAT YOU'RE FULLY SUBMERGED, AND YOU'RE PROBABLY NAKED, AND THERE ARE EELS ALL OVER YOU." Via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:59 PM
( 2:40 PM ) The Rat
"WHEN IT COMES TO THE HARDER STUFF, IT'S HOW CONSCIENTIOUS YOU ARE, RATHER THAN HOW MUCH IN LOVE YOU ARE, THAT REALLY MATTERS..." From what I've observed in friends' and loved ones' marriages, this really rings true (see no. 8—and also no. 6).
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:40 PM
( 12:15 AM ) The Rat
"'I'VE BEEN A FAN OF AUTHOR X FOR A LONG TIME': 'I SLEPT WITH THEM REGRETTABLY, IN MFA SCHOOL.'" One-Minute Book Reviews, via WC.
Ever wonder what editors, publishers and critics mean when they describe books as "lyrical," "provocative" or "ripped from the headlines"? Let industry veterans explain it to you. I asked experts on Twitter to decode common publishing terms and attach the hashtag #pubcode. Here are some of their answers...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:15 AM
Saturday, September 17, 2011
( 8:36 AM ) The Rat
"WHY DON'T YOU GET A JOB IN INSURANCE, LARRY?"
Although my favorite thus far from that site is definitely this one.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:36 AM
Friday, September 16, 2011
( 8:19 PM ) The Rat
WORLD'S LARGEST SWEET TEA, via AV.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:19 PM
Thursday, September 15, 2011
( 10:00 PM ) The Rat
A CHEAPER EURO SWEETENS FALL TRAVEL.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:00 PM
( 9:22 PM ) The Rat
INTRODUCING THE SATIN BRIDAL SNEAKER. Eh. What I want to see are bridal racing flats.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:22 PM
( 4:08 PM ) The Rat
AN ARTICLE OF FAITH FOR MARKETERS: PLACE NO FAITH IN ARTICLES, via WC. At least they're easily translatable to/from Russian?
Mr. Bezos is part of a growing cadre of marketers who conscientiously object to using articles—the tiny English words "the," "a," and "an" that typically precede many nouns.
Nintendo Co.'s website shows gamers "what Wii is all about." As far back as 1984, Apple Inc. said in a commercial that it would "introduce Macintosh." Today, an Apple video enthuses: "There's never been anything like iPad." Some companies make the drop official. Research In Motion Ltd.'s style guide specifies that "Blackberry" should be used "as an adjective and not as a noun or verb." An unacceptable usage, it says: "the BlackBerry." [...]
English speakers understand the difference between "The church is on the corner," and "I go to church," [Claire] says. "The first refers to the physical building, and the second refers to the building and all the activities, prayers and sermons that go on during a service."
Removing articles "is an artifact of the desire of some brand professionals to turn brands into religions or cults," says marketing blogger and business-book author Seth Godin...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:08 PM
( 12:07 PM ) The Rat
ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWISH 'FACEBOOK' SEPARATES THE SEXES, via IKM.
"People who are God-fearing and care about their children's education cannot tolerate the ads and pictures one sees on the regular Facebook," Ynetnews wrote, quoting Swisa. "I personally know people who have deteriorated spiritually because of all kinds of things they were introduced to there."
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:07 PM
( 9:46 AM ) The Rat
OK, THIS is definitely one of the more unusual Groupon offerings I've seen so far. Also probably the only one that "tipped at 1 bought."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:46 AM
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
( 11:48 PM ) The Rat
THE QUICK BROWN FOX, via ET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:48 PM
( 11:09 PM ) The Rat
WALRUS HAUL-OUT 2011. Damn—it's like Central Park.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:09 PM
( 9:02 PM ) The Rat
HEALTH CHOIRS: LET'S HAVE SINGING ON PRESCRIPTION.
That singing is uplifting and can help improve mood is so far its best documented health benefit. A recent Swedish study published in the journal Integrative Physiological and Behavioural Science suggested that it not only increases oxygen levels in the blood but triggers the release of "happy" hormones such as oxytocin, which is thought to help lower stress levels and blood pressure.
Meanwhile results of research by Prof Clift on a choir for people with mental health problems, published in Mental Health and Social Inclusion this summer, showed some 60 per cent of participants had less mental distress when retested a year after joining, with some people no longer fulfilling diagnostic criteria for clinical depression...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:02 PM
( 8:28 PM ) The Rat
LIEBOWITZ SOCIAL ANXIETY SCALE TEST. Heh, no comment.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:28 PM
( 8:25 PM ) The Rat
APPLE PULLS 'JEW OR NOT A JEW?' FROM APP STORE. I have to say, given France's record, this story is funny until it starts being unsettling.
Despite the French state's attachment to secular values, the question of public figures' religious affiliation continues to be a matter of some interest to the French public. On Google's French search engine, when a user types the name of a French celebrity, a top suggested follow up word is "Jew?"
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:25 PM
( 7:28 PM ) The Rat
WHOA. OK, so last year when I got my "Lectures and Community Programs" mailing(s) from the Met, I immediately set it on a shelf, and never looked at it again till moving it from there to the recycling bin at the end of the '10-'11 season—figuring it must be a lot of potentially interesting, but not-worth-spending-three-plus-hours-on-trains-for, lectures. But!—they have a rather snazzier lineup than I'd imagined, this year, including but limited to a two-hour master class and interview on April 15 with Flicka (as part of the Conversations on a Life in Music series, which will also host Robert Peters, Marilyn Horne, and Rosalind Elias), and a series of interviews (as part of "The Singers' Studio") with Diana Damrau (!), Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Stephanie Blythe, Peter Mattei, and others*). General admission tickets are $25, or $12 for students.
*Alas, no word on which if any of these artists are open to autographing body parts...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:28 PM
( 5:12 PM ) The Rat
WHY ARE CARROTS ORANGE? via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:12 PM
( 10:55 AM ) The Rat
CASH-STRAPPED LAWYER 'CARLA' TURNS TO EXOTIC DANCING TO PAY HER DEBTS. Hey, man, what are you trying to do—take all the jobs away from the grad students?!
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:55 AM
( 10:51 AM ) The Rat
PRIMARY SCHOOLCHILDREN THAT SLEEP LESS THAN 9 HOURS DO NOT PERFORM AS WELL ACADEMICALLY, STUDY SUGGESTS. Hmm.
A study by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB in Spanish) and Ramón Llull University have researched the relationship between the sleeping habits, hours slept, and academic performance of children aged between six and seven years of age. Experts have found that sleeping less than nine hours, going to bed late and no bedtime routine generally affects children's academic skills...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:51 AM
( 10:45 AM ) The Rat
You tasted it. Isn't that enough? Of what do you ever get more than a taste? That's all we're given in life, that's all we're given of life. A taste. There is no more.
—The Dying Animal
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:45 AM
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
( 7:35 PM ) The Rat
JAPAN EARTHQUAKE: SIX MONTHS LATER, via IKM. Man, those guys don't mess around.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:35 PM
( 7:24 PM ) The Rat
"IT'S TIRAMEATSU." In a Sandwich Monday I somehow missed, the Wait Wait crew eat The Atomica.
Also! (and with a better writeup): The Donut Ice Cream Sandwich.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:24 PM
( 5:55 PM ) The Rat
For a long time I'd considered the case closed, as they say. I could go and buy bread at the bakery without thinking about her the entire time, and for this reason (and plenty of others) the affair seemed, as they say, laid to rest. I seemed to have turned the corner, as they say, and surfaced the way people tend to surface even if they come back utterly changed, wrecked, the change belied by a fold of the mouth, by something about their shoulders or their eyes, or the way they walk, or the way they laugh and talk and stand and—well, just look around you, you'll see what I mean.
—The Mystery Guest
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:55 PM
( 3:45 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:45 PM
( 3:36 PM ) The Rat
"WE MEAN NO DISRESPECT TO CONDUCTORS BY POSTING THIS..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:36 PM
( 11:51 AM ) The Rat
HEH! Via EG.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:51 AM
( 6:49 AM ) The Rat
In leaving Zimbabwe and returning to England, [the surgeon for whom I worked] accepted a much reduced standard of living, whatever the nominal value of his income. Talleyrand said that he who had not experienced the ancien régime (as an aristocrat, of course) knew nothing of the sweetness of life. The same might be said of him who had not experienced life as a colonial in Africa. I, whose salary was by other standards small, lived at a level that I have scarcely equaled since. It is true that Rhodesia lacked many consumer goods at that time, due to the economic sanctions imposed upon it: but what I learned from this lack is how little consumer goods add to the quality of life, at least in an equable climate such as Rhodesia's. Life was no poorer for being lived without them.
The real luxuries were space and beauty—and the time to enjoy them. With three other junior doctors, I rented a large and elegant colonial house, old by the standards of a country settled by whites only 80 years previously, set in beautiful grounds tended by a garden "boy" called Moses (the "boy" in garden boy or houseboy implied no youth: once, in East Africa, I was served by a houseboy who was 94, who had lived in the same family for 70 years, and would have seen the suggestion of retirement as insulting). Surrounding the house was a red flagstone veranda, where breakfast was served on linen in the cool of the morning, the soft light of the sunrise spreading through the foliage of the flame and jacaranda trees; even the harsh cry of the go-away bird seemed grateful on the ear. It was the only time in my life when I have arisen from bed without a tinge of regret.
—Theodore Dalrymple, "After Empire"*
*This passage has haunted me since I first read it (in Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass—which, incidentally, you should read) five years ago. Can you remember the last time you "[arose] from bed without a tinge of regret"? It's a rarity for me in this country, though almost a daily occurrence when I'm abroad.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:49 AM
( 12:22 AM ) The Rat
Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
—Camus, Notebooks 1935-42 (via TT)
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:22 AM
Monday, September 12, 2011
( 3:31 PM ) The Rat
"WHEN YOU'RE A KID, YOU THINK THE HOT DOG IS GOING TO BE AS DISTURBING AS IT GETS, AS FAR AS CYLINDRICAL FOODS ARE CONCERNED." The Wait Wait crew eat The 7-11 Buffalo Chicken Roller.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:31 PM
( 3:03 PM ) The Rat
I will dispense some free advice, which might be worth what it costs. Put on a variety of first-rate operas—at least good and interesting ones—from the Baroque period to the present. Have your productions be imaginative, but non-screwy. Cast the best singers you can get: Americans, foreigners, up-and-comers, veterans, what have you. Keep the budget lean and mean. I know excellent singers who are just dying to sing, for peanuts. Stand up to the unions, to the extent you can. Make them ask themselves, "Do we really want to sink the ship?"
Eschew faddishness. Don't try to be cool, or hip, or "downtown." Let artistic integrity be the North Star. Stay away from hype and drop all gimmicks—such as "Boys' Night at L'Etoile" (L'Etoile being a Chabrier operetta). City Opera had a drag queen at intermission. Come on, people: Every night is "boys' night" at the opera.
—JN in City Arts
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:03 PM
( 10:00 AM ) The Rat
PARENTS' STRESS LEAVES LASTING MARKS ON CHILDREN'S GENES, RESEARCHERS FIND.
"What is particularly intriguing is that a mother's higher stress levels during infancy, but not during the preschool years, leads to epigenetic changes," says co-author Clyde Hertzman, a professor in UBC's School of Population and Public Health and director of HELP. "And the opposite is true for fathers—it's their higher stress during a child's preschool years, but not during their infancy, that counts"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:00 AM
( 9:00 AM ) The Rat
MISS UNIVERSE HOPEFUL TOLD TO WEAR PANTIES. From a few days ago.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:00 AM
( 8:54 AM ) The Rat
I always start these events with very lofty goals, like I'm going to do something special. And after a point of body deterioration, the goals get evaluated down to basically where I am at now—where the best I can hope for is to avoid throwing up on my shoes.
—nuclear engineer and ultrarunner Ephraim Romesberg, 65 miles into the Badwater Ultramarathon, quoted in Born to Run
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:54 AM
Sunday, September 11, 2011
( 5:01 PM ) The Rat
'DRUNK' BUGGY DRIVER ARRESTED AFTER REPORTS OF 'CLOWN' TURN OUT TO BE FLAMBOYANT GOLF CLOTHES. From a couple weeks back.
Deputies found 37-year-old James Straub, of Stoneham, Massachusetts, driving along a road.
He was in a pair of cropped white trousers, fuchsia and white chequered socks and white shoes. He also had pale pink polo shirt that set off the yellow, blue and pink pattern running down the legs of the trousers and a bright orange watch.
But he wasn't dressed as a clown—he just wearing some colourful clothing after an outing at Terry Hills Golf Course...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:01 PM
( 1:39 PM ) The Rat
DOG PEOPLE VS. CAT PEOPLE, via IKM. Easily one of the funniest things I've ever seen on YouTube.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:39 PM
( 9:23 AM ) The Rat
9/11 AND THE IDIOCY OF THE WHOLE 'WHERE WERE YOU?' THING.
The economic crisis that stemmed in a large part from the nation's war debts only marginally touched me when the housing bubble collapsed. But, I would have to say that the bottom of the most bottomest lines has found me pretty much unscathed in a 9/11ish way. The decade had other tragedies in store for me. The initial shock of the event wore off quickly and I have never co-opted it as something personal because it isn't.
There are people who have. I read a blog post last week that was written by a woman who was near hysterical about the news and media anniversary stuff. A person would have thought she was a 9/11 widow, but she's not. She didn't know a single person touched by the tragedy at the time and she herself was a thousand miles or more away from NYC that day. But that's the power of melodrama and the drumbeat that was hammered into us all at the time...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:23 AM
( 9:22 AM ) The Rat
The more I run, the more I want to run, and the more I live a life conditioned and influenced and fashioned by my running. And the more I run, the more certain I am that I am heading for my real goal: to become the person I am.
—George Sheehan, via Hal Higdon on Facebook
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:22 AM
Saturday, September 10, 2011
( 5:52 PM ) The Rat
As an incentive for participation in the half-marathon, the prime minister offered the equivalent of 1,000 American dollars to the winner. The enormity of the prize was unheard of at the time, especially when it took the average Sikkimese 6 months to earn that much money. The organizers were convinced someone was going to try to cheat their way across the finish line, so they devised a method they believed was foolproof.
At each of four checkpoints, race officials would jump out from behind a rock or tree and blast the runners with spray paint. Every checkpoint was assigned a different color, and only a few people knew what they were. That way, no one could slap paint on themselves prior to the race and sprint across the finish line. [...]
[The rules] were worse than I thought. Not only would each runner get tagged, we would have to open our arms in welcome to allow a clear shot of our racing bib. That explained why we were sporting cloth bibs that resembled baby diapers and covered most of our chests. Someone obviously needed a large target. I found out whom at mile 3.
Just as I passed a tree, an official wearing a business suit jumped out and blasted me with red paint. Some of it got into my mouth, and I immediately started choking. Even though I had prepared myself for being sprayed, I was still startled by the swiftness of the attack. I looked in vain for a water station.
I tried not to let the dousing throw off my stride or inhibit me from running full guns, but the anxiety of not knowing when I would get sprayed again replayed in my head like a film reel. If this movie had a name, it would be Paintball Half-Marathon...
—My Life on the Run
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:52 PM
( 4:10 PM ) The Rat
"THE EXHIBITION IS A BIT LIKE THE ANTIGRAVITY SIMULATORS USED BY ASTRONAUTS..." Tickets to "Dialog in the Dark" are available for just $12 through Travelzoo.
The experience is so intense and the method so simple that it is surprising how unique and fresh it feels. And yes, it has been done before, since 1988, with great success. A version of this show has been presented in 35 countries, with five permanent exhibitions in Brazil, Israel and Italy and two in Germany. As many as six million people have experienced it.
The idea was developed by Andreas Heinecke, a German journalist and filmmaker who in 1986 had to design a rehabilitation program for a newly blinded colleague. Mr. Heinecke was awakened to the difficulties of the blind and to the subtle denigration and fear that often greeted them. A version of this show, developed a few years later, was one response. He didn't just want to provide insight into blindness. His goal was more didactic, deliberately placing those who might feel somewhat superior in a position where they were dependent on those who were apparently inferior. He has said that he wants visitors to reach an understanding of the "other."
In some of Mr. Heinecke's literature, it can sound like a form of social work: "The exhibition encourages teamwork, trust and understanding and allows visitors to gain a greater appreciation of the power of communication and the abilities of others." And in a profile prepared when he was awarded an Ashoka Fellowship in 2005 as a "social entrepreneur," we learn that he has been interested in expanding his project beyond blindness, creating experiences that deal with "old age, migration, exile and crime and punishment"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:10 PM
( 4:01 PM ) The Rat
TIGER IN 'LOVE TRIANGLE' KILLS MATE AT TEXAS ZOO.
Marshall said keepers had not observed any signs of aggression leading up to the attack, and that the two cats had been seen playing affectionately at the exhibit earlier in the day...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:01 PM
( 6:59 AM ) The Rat
9/11 & US, from the CEO of Meetup.com.
I don't write to our whole community often, but this week is special because it's the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and many people don't know that Meetup is a 9/11 baby...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 AM
Friday, September 09, 2011
( 8:50 PM ) The Rat
A 90-year-old man who has been sneaking out and running half-marathons has been caught out—after a neighbour told his wife they'd seen him on TV...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:50 PM
( 8:42 PM ) The Rat
SHANGHAI IKEA STRUGGLES TO CONTROL SINGLES GROUP, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:42 PM
( 8:39 PM ) The Rat
CHILD WEARS TUXEDO FOR FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. I just hope they cut him off before somebody handed him his first martini.
Falls' dad explained that Kyle was originally wearing a t-shirt and camo pants, but then Kyle recalled his tuxedo, which was his sixth-birthday party ("a secret agent-themed blowout in honor of his son's idol, James Bond"). Kyle confidently told the NY Times, "A tuxedo is very good clothes," and posed for an insanely adorable picture...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:39 PM
( 11:37 AM ) The Rat
IT MIGHT BE ABOUT TIME TO GET YER WHALE SCRUBBED, if you know what I mean.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:37 AM
( 8:17 AM ) The Rat
HEH! Also, ouch.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:17 AM
( 1:03 AM ) The Rat
[Running] gave me focus and a direction I hadn't found in any other pursuit. My brothers were star athletes on the football field and basketball court. They made my father proud, and he showered them with an affection he had never shown me. I was a scrawny teen who didn't excel at sports. I wasn't good at school. In eighth grade, I was expelled from Saint Ursula's Catholic Grade School for being a troublemaker and sent to public school. I graduated from Liberty High School in Bethlehem, but barely. Dull textbooks and the strict confines of the classroom didn't interest me. I preferred cigarettes, booze, and dope, although I got high only once in my life: from 1970 to 1977.
—My Life on the Run
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:03 AM
Thursday, September 08, 2011
( 8:57 PM ) The Rat
MODERATE DRINKING LINKED TO BETTER HEALTH FOR OLDER WOMEN. Hmm.
Overall, moderate drinking was linked with having better odds of successful aging. Looking at both the amount and frequency of drinking, women who drank five or more grams of alcohol (between one-third and one drink) per day and spread their drinking out over three to seven days a week had better odds of successful aging compared with non-drinkers...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:57 PM
( 3:17 PM ) The Rat
The gathering took a decidedly different turn.
Ten minutes later, I found it necessary to mention that Journey was rock's version of the TV show Dynasty. This prompted a spirited debate as we dubbed "Monkees = Monkees." The goal is to figure out which television show is the closest philosophical analogy to a specific rock 'n' roll band, and the criteria is mind-blowingly complex: It's a combination of longevity, era, critical acclaim, commercial success, and—most important—the aesthetic soul of each artistic entity. For example, the Rolling Stones are Gunsmoke. The Strokes are Kiefer Sutherland's 24. Jimi Hendrix was The Twilight Zone. Devo was Fernwood 2-Night. Lynyrd Skynyrd was The Beverly Hillbillies, which makes Molly Hatchet Petticoat Junction. The Black Crowes are That '70s Show. Hall & Oates were Bosom Buddies. U2 is M*A*S*H (both got preachy at the end). Dokken was Jason Bateman's short-lived sitcom It's Your Move. Eurythmics were Mork & Mindy. We even deduced comparisons for solo projects, which can only be made to series that were spawned as spin-offs. The four Beatles are as follows: John = Maude, Paul = Frasier, George = The Jeffersons, and Ringo = Flo. David Lee Roth's solo period was Knots Landing.
So there's proof: Marijuana makes you smarter.
—Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:17 PM
( 12:47 PM ) The Rat
SWEDISH CHEF MAKES DONUTS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:47 PM
( 10:52 AM ) The Rat
DON'T BUY PATAGONIA STUFF UNLESS YOU REALLY NEED IT. Still corporate spin at some level, but the resale site idea's cool.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:52 AM
( 9:29 AM ) The Rat
NO. 167 at 1000AwesomeThings.com is pretty good. (Not so much the writeup—just the thing itself.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:29 AM
( 1:18 AM ) The Rat
Mere awareness volatilizes what it seeks and hampers its own functioning. The most reflective of us are endowed with the antithesis of the Midas touch; it turns the things we want, or want to know, into dross. In the sphere of love, Stendhal gave a name to the common and distressing weakness that renders a man sexually incapable of doing precisely what he most desires to do. Fiasco, in any language, can no longer mean just a jug of wine. But Proust felt fiasco writ very large. He comprehended a greater disaster: not only that familiarity breeds contempt but also that merely to think something diminishes the dimensions of its reality. Imagining impedes realization. It is impossible to be present at the coronation of one's own happiness: recall Marcel kissing Albertine. No wonder Proust spent his years writing his way out from under the burden of being alive, and of being aware of being alive. For our culture, Faust represents this first pathos of thought. There is no happiness or repose for his overactive mind. He strives always for something other and elsewhere and better.
In this perspective of restlessness, Faust's lot looks very similar to that of Don Juan, who embodies the pathos of self. Both their stories arise from a perception of life as flawed. We are born into dissatisfaction with our estate. Society constrains us to limit our behavior to patterns assigned not only by our public role but also by expectations of consistent character. We are usually barred from acting out all our conflicting feelings and responses. But even without social conventions, our behavior displays the features of what I have referred to as intermittence. It is beyond our power as humans to be all of ourselves at once...
*Several things in this I love, but I do have to wonder: How exactly did Mr. Shattuck manage to get himself married—or did he just marry young enough that he hadn't yet understood the things he's describing here? Also, he technically is ripping off that term "intermittence," since Les Intermittences du coeur was Proust's original title for the Recherche.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:18 AM
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
( 4:42 PM ) The Rat
DRUNKEN ELK RESCUED FROM SWEDE'S APPLE TREE, via JM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:42 PM
( 4:29 PM ) The Rat
MAN CHARGED FOR SEX WITH INFLATABLE RAFT. At least it was pink?
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:29 PM
( 3:25 PM ) The Rat
[T]he Hopis consider running a form of prayer...
—Born to Run
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:25 PM
( 2:34 PM ) The Rat
KAUAI MARATHON WATER STOP.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:34 PM
( 1:19 PM ) The Rat
TAJIKSTAN SHOWS OFF WORLD'S TALLEST FLAGPOLE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:19 PM
( 10:55 AM ) The Rat
MAPPED: FICTIONAL STATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND. Don't miss their Guide to Alternative London Tube Maps.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:55 AM
( 10:52 AM ) The Rat
Karnazes now tours the world, evangelizing about the importance of good health and drawing metaphors for CEOs between the struggle on the trail and in the boardroom. In the end, though, he resorts to a quote from the existentialist novelist and goalkeeper Albert Camus to explain the privilege of the running experience: 'We are at home in our games because it is the only place we know what we are supposed to do.'
—The Lure of Long Distances
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:52 AM
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
( 9:13 PM ) The Rat
8 WORST RESTAURANT 'FREEBIES.' God bless America!
Friendly's has a philosophy that every meal should end with ice cream, so when your child orders a lunch or dinner, the dessert comes free. And these are no small desserts—8 of the 10 exceed 400 calories. The worst among them is the Peanut Butter Cup Friend-Z, a small bucket of hot fudge sauce and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups churned into soft serve ice cream. The Friend-Z has four times more calories than an actual package of Reese's. So say your child orders a crispy chicken Wrap It Up Wrap with Waffle Fries, and for a beverage (which is also free) she orders strawberry milk. Meal total so far: 1,770 calories. You're hesitant to order dessert, but what the heck. It's free, right? So you tack on a Friend-Z. The grand total for your child's meal is 2,630 calories...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:13 PM
( 8:48 PM ) The Rat
USING THE FORCE TO FIND LOVE AT DRAGON*CON.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:48 PM
( 4:28 PM ) The Rat
AUGUST'S MOST EXPENSIVE SALES, via AbeBooks. Some of us would've paid more for the Fleming than for the Baudelaire. Just sayin'.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:28 PM
( 2:58 PM ) The Rat
SEARCH FOR PREDICTORS OF RISK FOR PTSD: MEANINGFUL ASSOCIATIONS DEPENDENT ON RELIABLE MEASURES OF PRE-EXISTING TRAUMA.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:58 PM
( 2:47 PM ) The Rat
MAN WHO SHOT HIS PENIS GETS PROTECTION ORDER. From last month, when, inexplicably, no one sent it to me.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 PM
( 2:12 PM ) The Rat
COUCH POTATOES EXPLAINED? MISSING KEY GENES MAY BE CAUSE FOR LACK OF RESOLVE TO EXERCISE, RESEARCHERS FIND. Hmm. (Don't miss the pic!)
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:12 PM
( 1:55 PM ) The Rat
COMMON PAINKILLERS TIED TO MISCARRIAGE RISK.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:55 PM
( 1:07 PM ) The Rat
JAMES LEVINE WITHDRAWS FROM FALL MET PERFORMANCES. Boo hiss!
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:07 PM
( 12:49 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:49 PM
( 12:44 PM ) The Rat
While nothing had changed, and my prolonged absence had not been noted, at least I knew now that running teaches us patience and with that comes compassion—the knowledge of how to become properly grounded, more accepting. And when the understanding did come of what running was really about, it was not in a moment of deep reflection, but in one of complete exhaustion, with my body entirely given over to it. I knew now that there was no point in getting frustrated with my inability to articulate more clearly the joy that it gave me. I had to accept that the pleasure was a deeply subjective, if also universally achievable, state of grace.
The elite ultra distance runners that I came to know were all driven by an urge that could manifest itself in many forms. Starting lines were filled with recovering alcoholics, veterans of multiple marriages, individuals who came to long-distance running as a means of exhausting the tic that had broken them when it had shown itself in another, more destructive form...
—The Lure of Long Distances
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:44 PM
Monday, September 05, 2011
( 9:34 PM ) The Rat
Watching Zátopek that afternoon was the Swedish coach of the Ethiopian national running team, Onni Niskanen. Niskanen had grown up with distance running. For the Finns and the Swedes the marathon distance had a special significance beyond simple sporting achievement, offering a metaphor for the vast emptiness of the Nordic landscape and man's frailty when faced with traversing even an infinitesimal part of it. It was a sport requiring a monumental exertion that defied nature. Zátopek's ability to transcend perceived human limits was not about becoming superhuman, as incredulous spectators cried, their hands clutched to their foreheads. Rather, Zátopek had shown that running could make them feel more acutely human, not because they were conquering the great outdoors by strengthening themselves against it, but by becoming one with it...
—The Lure of Long Distances
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:34 PM
( 8:26 PM ) The Rat
MILITARY SUICIDES LINKED TO LOW OMEGA-3 LEVELS.
Related: How food influences mood and brain power.
Kristen E. D'Anci, a researcher specializing in nutrition and behavior at Tufts, found that even low levels of dehydration consistently had a negative effect on mood. 'Not enough water made people feel irritable, less energetic and often brought on a mild headache,' she says. She and her colleagues recommend people drink 2 liters of liquids per day—or more for those who engage in vigorous exercise or live in hot climates...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:26 PM
( 6:24 PM ) The Rat
THE TYPEWRITER LIVES ON IN INDIA. Typewriters are the bomb. Whenever I change cities I look for a public or university library that still has them.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:24 PM
( 3:09 PM ) The Rat
"THE AUTHORS NOTE THAT PEOPLE WITH THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF SELF-CONTROL ARE ONLY SLIGHTLY BETTER THAN AVERAGE AT CONTROLLING THEIR WEIGHT, AND THEY DESCRIBE DISTURBING EXPERIMENTS THAT CONFIRM THE OLD SAYING 'WHEN THE PENIS STANDS UP, THE BRAINS GET BURIED' (IT SOUNDS BETTER IN YIDDISH)."
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:09 PM
( 7:53 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:53 AM
Sunday, September 04, 2011
( 9:11 PM ) The Rat
TOM ROBINSON'S PHOTOGRAPHS of reactions by his family and friends on being told he was going to be a dad.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:11 PM
( 12:00 AM ) The Rat
'There is only one antidote to mental suffering,' wrote Karl Marx, 'and that is physical pain.' The first person I met who had run the Marathon des Sables told me about it with anguish, having run 151 miles through the 120 degree heat of Morocco to numb the sadness of a rejected marriage proposal. 'As in dying and death, so in serious pain the claims of the body utterly nullify the claims of the world,' wrote Elaine Scarry in The Body in Pain.
The motivation that drove Scott, Mallory, and Terray to the remotest ends of the earth is in part defined by their pursuit of fear, with which comes an acute sensitivity to death since one false step could end in disaster. For the runner, the hours spent on the road are in part a pursuit of the same connection with our surroundings through pain, which, in its extremity, is equivalent to what is unfeelable in death. Bannister knew, as all runners have known, the scream that comes from the calcification of the bones as we stride out against the wishes of our body. It is this absoluteness, when we learn the extent of our boundaries, that makes running in part a story about experiencing 'the expansive nature of human sentience, the felt-fact of aliveness.' In everyday life, in which we consciously avoid unnecessary hardship, this aliveness is a hypersensitivity that we ordinarily associate with physical gratification. As a result we shy away from painful endeavor and seek out more obvious pleasures...
—The Lure of Long Distances
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 AM
Saturday, September 03, 2011
( 7:21 PM ) The Rat
YOUR AWFUL DATES, IN 140 CHARACTERS, via WC. You know you want to read these.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:21 PM
( 7:08 PM ) The Rat
"KEEP CHILDREN WET AT ALL TIMES. WHEN COMBINED WITH FREQUENT SLATHERING OF SUNSCREEN, WHAT YOU'RE DOING IS MARINATING THEM." P.J. O'Rourke on American summers, via TT.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:08 PM
( 4:00 PM ) The Rat
VIVID IMAGE FOR THE DAY, from somebody quoted in The Blue Zones: "[E]ating junk food also creates chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The inflammatory response is good if we have an infection, but triggering it all the time by eating bad foods causes the body to produce chemicals that wreak havoc on our organs and arteries. People think that our skin is the main way our bodies interact with the outside world, but it is actually through our digestive tract—our stomach, large intestines, and small intestines. It has a surface area about the size of a tennis court..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:00 PM
( 3:14 PM ) The Rat
PROFESSOR IS ACCUSED OF BEING A BIKER-GANG LEADER AND DRUG DEALER, via IKM.
A Cal State San Bernardino professor who chaired academic committees, tweeted his concerns about child obesity and lived quietly in a well-trimmed Highland neighborhood stands accused of living a shadow life of a heavily armed biker-gang member and drug dealer...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:14 PM
( 12:15 PM ) The Rat
PHILOSOPHICAL COUNSELORS RELY ON ETERNAL WISDOM OF GREAT THINKERS, via A&LD. Your joke here!
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:15 PM
( 3:30 AM ) The Rat
ONLINE DATING? WHY NO ONE WANTS YOU, via CD.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:30 AM
( 3:12 AM ) The Rat
During class at the university one day, a student surprised me by asking, "If you were God, how would you make people in America more physically active?" In my years of teaching, no one had ever asked that question, and I surprised myself when I answered without hesitation, "For starters I'd ban video games, television, and professional sports." I later amended that statement, adding all high school and college athletic team sports.
I explained to the student that there actually was life before television and that we Americans (even adults) used to actually get outdoors and be physically active before we gave away our play and our games to the talented few: the varsity high school and college athletes and the superelite professionals. Once active participants, we have now become a nation of sedentary observers.
We wear our heroes' jerseys while we sit in front of our televisions, in arenas, or in coliseums, where we passively eat, drink, and watch. Senior writer Frank Deford, in a recent Sports Illustrated piece on the rise and fall of yet another of our athletic legends, wrote, "Athletes are romantic idols, worshipped by innocent children and stunted adults"...
—Conquering Depression and Anxiety Through Exercise
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:12 AM
Friday, September 02, 2011
( 7:20 PM ) The Rat
"HAVE YOU EVER SWORN YOU WOULDN'T TOUCH SOMETHING WITH A TEN-FOOT POLE? HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?"
Um, my looking up tape measures on Amazon had no connection to the last post. I swear.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:20 PM
( 5:49 PM ) The Rat
"EXCEPT THERE WAS THAT GUY THAT WALKED BY AND SAID HE COULD SUCK BOTH OF US OFF IN TWO MINUTES." Sex Advice from Hollister Models, which was funnier than I expected, via Nerve.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:49 PM
( 4:02 PM ) The Rat
SURFING A ROGUE WAVE. What, no poisonous snakes looped around his midsection? Pussy.
Surfer Mark Visser is upping the ante again. After tricking out a board and wetsuit with LEDs to surf Jaws at night, he's now parachuting into the open ocean from a plane with his jet ski and board so he can surf a rogue wave...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:02 PM
( 11:09 AM ) The Rat
HABIT MAKES BAD FOOD TOO EASY TO SWALLOW.
[R]esearchers gave people about to enter a movie theater a bucket of either just-popped, fresh popcorn or stale, week-old popcorn.
Moviegoers who didn't usually eat popcorn at the movies ate much less stale popcorn than fresh popcorn. The week-old popcorn just didn't taste as good. But moviegoers who indicated that they typically had popcorn at the movies ate about the same amount of popcorn whether it was fresh or stale. In other words, for those in the habit of having popcorn at the movies, it made no difference whether the popcorn tasted good or not.
"When we've repeatedly eaten a particular food in a particular environment, our brain comes to associate the food with that environment and make us keep eating as long as those environmental cues are present," said lead author David Neal...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:09 AM
( 11:07 AM ) The Rat
LANGUAGE SPEED VERSUS EFFICIENCY: IS FASTER BETTER?
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:07 AM
( 11:05 AM ) The Rat
RUNNING WITH THE BULLS? YES, THERE'S A SHOE FOR THAT. Shouldn't it be a darker red, so the blood doesn't show as much?
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:05 AM
( 10:16 AM ) The Rat
DID YOU KNOW RUNNERS ARE MORE 'FINANCIALLY CONSCIOUS'? ME NEITHER. Posting this mainly because I loved Mary Hunter's comment: "I don't think that applies to us. We just don't spend very much money because we're either out running or we're tired."
I do think there's an elegance to the simplicity of this sport, that probably does appeal to math-ey types like me. (And, yes, I do keep ridiculously detailed logs of my runs—distance, time of day, EPOC, the works.) Not that I don't love designer goods: This place was a big part of my childhood (it's the reason that in the windows of high-end shops, alongside "Milan" and "New York" you'll not uncommonly also see "Costa Mesa"); one of our regular family outings was to Rodeo Drive; and the first time I set foot inside one of those Parisian couturiers where you have to ring a bell to even be admitted, I was only 15. But when I first started reading about those studies finding that spending money on experiences pays off better than spending money on goods, I wasn't really surprised. When I was little and had a new toy or other item, I would put it next to my pillow when I went to bed—my new prize! (My family particularly like to tease me about doing this with shoes...) We're all familiar with that invisible halo a new possession can have—but, in my experience, it does inevitably wear off, whether the item in question cost $2 or 2K.
By contrast, one of the peripheral things I love about running is that my running shoes are now something that I'll wear out in another 150 miles or so, rather than something to buy and have till they look approximately adequately beaten up, and/or till another, prettier pair comes along. (Hmm... numbers again.) Certain members of my family take such good care of their physical possessions that 20-year-old items still look brand new (which I'm sure is connected to how painful I find it to lend out books, even to people I like—in my experience, family teaching dies hard). So it's lovely having a category of things that I'm supposed to beat up and get good, hard use out of. It's lovely having gear. There's something so aesthetically pleasing about the idea of paring down to fewer but higher-quality possessions, using them well, and taking up less space (all of which are reasons I downsized in '09—my current place has half the square footage of the apartment that preceded it, but with much higher ceilings). It's also why I love the idea of the "sharing economy," even if I'm not entirely sure how quickly it's going to take off.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:16 AM
( 8:45 AM ) The Rat
HOW TO MEASURE A HURRICANE: THE WAFFLE HOUSE INDEX.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:45 AM
Thursday, September 01, 2011
( 10:34 PM ) The Rat
SLED DOG PUPPY CAM!
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:34 PM
( 7:47 AM ) The Rat
FATHERS' PRESENCE LINKED TO ENHANCED INTELLECT, WELL-BEING AMONG CHILDREN. Hrm.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:47 AM