Sunday, September 30, 2012
( 12:39 PM ) The Rat
"SOME OF THE SIGHTS THAT CAN BE SEEN THERE: 'LOUIS VUITTON,' 'FAKE LOUIS VUITTON,' 'IMPROMPTU SUNDAY POST OFFICE,' 'SHOE SHINERS,' 'TOURIST CONVERGENCE.'" Hong Kong, the City Without Ground.
There are now miles of walkways and usable space that create connections throughout some of the most crowded and central areas of the city. "It's bits of private development, bits of public development, a little bit of city streets, a little bit of foot bridge, a little bit of train station, corporate lobby, hotel, et cetera, all kind of strung together ad hoc into a continual civic space," Solomon says.
It's all unplanned, Solomon says, and unexpected. He calls it an aformal urbanism – neither formal nor informal.
"It’s a collaboration between top-down government planning and kind of bottom-up market emergence that really wouldn't function without the participation of the other," Solomon says.
If one property owner or the government were to shut down its segment, the system would cease to function. So no one does and the crowds continue to flow. And overflow. The walkways next to restaurants also serve as seating areas, and repair shops located along the way also spill out into the space. People sit and play mahjong, or hold political protests or display art exhibitions. Cities Without Ground suggests that all this activity taking place in such an aformal setting shows that there is a new kind of public space developing—one that's new and different from the plazas and squares Westerners might typically think of as urban public spaces...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:39 PM
( 10:38 AM ) The Rat
BRANDED FOR LIFE, via WC.
The most loyal brand actors don't say much in public other than delivering their catchy tag lines and cheerleading on behalf of the company in the occasional interview. Discipline is rewarded. The actors are paid well to stay on message. As a result, the top brand actors in American life have tended to be often seen on TV but seldom heard away from it.
For years, even as Smiling Bob went multiplatinum, Olcott stayed hidden. There was no mention of his name on the company's website. He never gave interviews. He was as silent as the character he played on TV. But he was the brand for many people, and this had consequences.
In 2008, Steve Warshak, the founder of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering. (The sentence was subsequently reduced to 10 years.) Many of the news stories published about Warshak's legal struggles were illustrated with a picture of Smiling Bob. Online, people often directed their disgust at Enzyte's frontman. "Let's see if he wipes that smile off his face now," wrote a chat room commenter in the aftermath of Warshak’s conviction...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:38 AM
Friday, September 28, 2012
( 10:50 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:50 PM
( 10:02 PM ) The Rat
WHAT DOES YOUR CREDIT-CARD COMPANY KNOW ABOUT YOU? From a few years back.
Martin could often see precisely what cardholders were purchasing, and he discovered that the brands we buy are the windows into our souls—or at least into our willingness to make good on our debts. His data indicated, for instance, that people who bought cheap, generic automotive oil were much more likely to miss a credit-card payment than someone who got the expensive, name-brand stuff. People who bought carbon-monoxide monitors for their homes or those little felt pads that stop chair legs from scratching the floor almost never missed payments. Anyone who purchased a chrome-skull car accessory or a "Mega Thruster Exhaust System" was pretty likely to miss paying his bill eventually.
Martin's measurements were so precise that he could tell you the "riskiest" drinking establishment in Canada—Sharx Pool Bar in Montreal, where 47 percent of the patrons who used their Canadian Tire card missed four payments over 12 months. He could also tell you the "safest" products—premium birdseed and a device called a "snow roof rake" that homeowners use to remove high-up snowdrifts so they don't fall on pedestrians.
Testing indicated that Martin's predictions, when paired with other commonly used data like cardholders' credit histories and incomes, were often much more precise than what the industry traditionally used to forecast cardholder riskiness. By the time he publicized his findings, a small industry of math fanatics—many of them former credit-card executives—had started consulting for the major banks that issued cards, and they began using Martin's findings and other research to build psychological profiles. Why did birdseed and snow-rake buyers pay off their debts? The answer, research indicated, was that those consumers felt a sense of responsibility toward the world, manifested in their spending on birds they didn’t own and pedestrians they might not know. Why were felt-pad buyers so upstanding? Because they wanted to protect their belongings, be they hardwood floors or credit scores. Why did chrome-skull owners skip out on their debts? "The person who buys a skull for their car, they are like people who go to a bar named Sharx," Martin told me. "Would you give them a loan?"
Some credit-card companies began using these and other discoveries to find new customers and to scrutinize existing cardholders. A few firms began sending offers to people who had registered for baby showers or weddings, for example, since data showed that getting married or having a child—in addition to making people buy lots of new stuff—often also makes them more responsible. Other companies started cutting cardholders' credit lines when charges appeared for pawnshops or marriage therapy because data indicated those were signs of desperation or depression that might lead to job loss...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:02 PM
( 9:33 PM ) The Rat
I read all the John le Carré novels when I was 12 years old. That world was enormously appealing to me. I unconsciously related to the loneliness involved, and of course there was some intellectual prowess required. God, was that romantic. Beat up the bad guy, figure out an enormously complex puzzle, realize you’d been screwed, then retreat to some quiet place to be moderately unhappy for the rest of your life. Yes! I wanted that!
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:33 PM
( 7:34 PM ) The Rat
LOOTED NAZI STATUE IS FROM SPACE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:34 PM
( 6:01 PM ) The Rat
GENERAL MILLS GIVES HONEY NUT CHEERIOS BEE INTENSE BACKSTORY OF CHILDHOOD FOSTER HOME ABUSE IN BIZARRE REBRANDING EFFORT, from May. Hee/yaah!
According to company reps, subsequent ads will contain details about BuzzBee's submissive foster mother's refusal to acknowledge the abuse, his first nonconsensual sexual experiences involving his imposing older foster brother Craig, the 3 grams of healthy soluble fiber in Honey Nut Cheerios, and his struggles with emotional and physical intimacy as an adult...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:01 PM
( 12:54 PM ) The Rat
OPERA SINGER GROWS ALGAE ON HER FACE BY FEEDING IT WTH HER BREATH AND THEN THE AUDIENCE EATS IT.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:54 PM
( 12:00 PM ) The Rat
OFFICE CHEERING ON EMPLOYEE GOING FOR 32-MINUTE NONSTOP WORK STREAK.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 PM
( 11:54 AM ) The Rat
I KNEW IT!
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:54 AM
Thursday, September 27, 2012
( 10:24 AM ) The Rat
PIPPA MIDDLETON FINDS THAT HER BACK IS MORE LUCRATIVE THAN HER FRONT, via JWB. In my salad days, I did get asked out by someone who hadn't yet seen me from the front, which was amusing, but I can see that that sort of thing would get old pretty fast. Also, in Ms. Middleton's defense: Is Mr. Lagerfeld really one to talk?
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:24 AM
( 10:23 AM ) The Rat
Can it be an accident that Heinrich Pestalozzi—who was fatherless from his sixth year onward and emotionally neglected despite the presence of his mother and of a nurse—neglected his only son, although he was capable, on the other hand, of giving orphan children genuine warmth and fatherliness? This son was finally considered to be mentally defective, although he had been an intelligent child. he died at the age of thirty. Both his life and his death caused Pestalozzi much pain and guilt. It was also Pestalozzi who is reputed to have said: 'You can drive the devil out of your garden but you will find him again in the garden of your son.'
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:23 AM
( 8:59 AM ) The Rat
FUNNIER THAN IF IT HAD BEEN '...FOR THE DEPT. OF THE INTERIOR.' Link via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:59 AM
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
( 10:55 PM ) The Rat
"THE CONTRACT ALSO RECOGNIZED THE RISKS THE FARMERS WERE TAKING. IF ANY OF THE FARMERS WERE SENT TO PRISON OR EXECUTED, IT SAID, THE OTHERS IN THE GROUP WOULD CARE FOR THEIR CHILDREN UNTIL AGE 18." The Secret Document That Transformed China, via Planet Money. Intense, and a story I'd never heard of.
In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village called Xiaogang gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. They thought it might get them executed. Instead, it wound up transforming China's economy in ways that are still reverberating today.
The contract was so risky—and such a big deal—because it was created at the height of communism in China. Everyone worked on the village's collective farm; there was no personal property.
"Back then, even one straw belonged to the group," says Yen Jingchang, who was a farmer in Xiaogang in 1978. "No one owned anything."
At one meeting with communist party officials, a farmer asked: "What about the teeth in my head? Do I own those?" Answer: No. Your teeth belong to the collective...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:55 PM
( 12:41 AM ) The Rat
Alphonse Daudet's Lettres de mon Moulin includes a story that may sound rather bizarre but nevertheless has much in common with what I have presented here. I shall summarize the story briefly:
Once upon a time there was a child who had a golden brain. His parents only discovered this by chance when he injured his head and gold instead of blood flowed out. They then began to look after him carefully and would not let him play with other children for fear of being robbed. When the boy was grown up and wanted to go out into the world, his mother said: 'We have done so much for you, we ought to be able to share your wealth.' Then her son took a large piece of gold out of his brain and gave it to his mother. He lived in great style with a friend who, however, robbed him one night and ran away. After that the man resolved to guard his secret and to go out to work, because his reserves were visibly dwindling. One day he fell in love with a beautiful girl who loved him too, but no more than the beautiful clothes he gave her so lavishly. He married her and was very happy, but after two years she died and he spent the rest of his wealth on her funeral, which had to be splendid. Once, as he was creeping through the streets, weak, poor, and unhappy, he saw a beautiful little pair of boots that would have been perfect for his wife. He forgot that she was dead—perhaps because his emptied brain no longer worked—and entered the shop to buy the boots. But in that very moment he fell, and the shopkeeper saw a dead man lying on the ground.
Daudet, who was to die from an illness of the spinal cord, wrote following this story:
This story sounds as though it were invented, but it is true from beginning to end. There are people who have to pay for the smallest things in life with their very substance and their spinal cord. That is a constantly recurring pain, and then when they are tired of suffering....
Does not mother love belong to the 'smallest,' but also indispensable, things in life, for which many people paradoxically have to pay by giving up their living selves?
—The Drama of the Gifted Child
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:41 AM
Monday, September 24, 2012
( 6:40 PM ) The Rat
It is like a miracle each time to see how much authenticity and integrity have survived behind dissimulation, denial, and self-alienation, and how they can reappear as soon as the patient finds access to the feelings. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to imply that there is a fully developed, true self consciously hidden behind the false self. The important point is that the child does not know what he is hiding. Karl, age forty-two, expressed this in the following way: 'I lived in a glass house into which my mother could look at any time. In a glass house, however, you cannot conceal anything without giving yourself away, except by hiding it under the ground. And then you cannot see it yourself, either.'
An adult can be fully aware of his feelings only if he had caring parents or caregivers. People who were abused and neglected in childhood are missing this capacity and are therefore never overtaken by unexpected emotions. They will admit only those feelings that are accepted and approved by their inner censor, who is their parents' heir. Depression and a sense of inner emptiness are the price they must pay for this control. The true self cannot communicate because it has remained unconscious, and therefore undeveloped, in its inner prison. The company of prison warders does not encourage lively development. It is only after it is liberated that the self begins to be articulate, to grow, and to develop its creativity. Where there had been only fearful emptiness or equally frightening grandiose fantasies, an unexpected wealth of vitality is now discovered. This is not a homecoming, since this home has never before existed. It is the creation of home.
—The Drama of the Gifted Child
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:40 PM
( 6:33 PM ) The Rat
WHY HIGH HEELS RULE DALLAS.
Heels are still a marker of status, even though $800 Louboutins can be bought at the mall by any suburban girl with a credit card (what hath you wrought, Carrie Bradshaw?). But they are also a kind of feminine brag. To strut in stilettos is to walk fashion's high wire. To own them is to be the girl with the most cake. Dallas' Jane Aldridge gained national fame in her teens by blogging about her intimidating collection on a site called Sea of Shoes. I've heard a million reasons for women's current shoe fetish (Louboutin himself attributes it to the way it shapes the female form), but I'm going to throw another on the pile: you can wear them at any size. You can gain 20 pounds, bloat up like a suckling pig, and your shoes still fit...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:33 PM
( 6:24 PM ) The Rat
COULD CASTRATION HELP MEN LIVE LONGER?
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:24 PM
Saturday, September 22, 2012
( 9:33 PM ) The Rat
A MORTGAGE BANKER IN AMISH COUNTRY, again via Planet Money.
O'Brien says the Amish are less risky debtors than people with access to all the tools of modern banking. The Amish live well within their means—no splurging on iPods or HDTVs, no dinners out that they really can't afford. The Amish think that missing a payment brings shame—not just on them, but on their whole family, their whole community.
"We've never lost any money on an Amish deal," he says. "So, I'll stretch my neck more for with them than maybe I will somewhere else."
O'Brien has been doing this work for 20 years. He's made countless thousands of loans—with no problems. This year, he says, one guy was a few days late on one month's mortgage payment. Everyone else paid on time, every time...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:33 PM
( 2:14 PM ) The Rat
ZIMBABWE CITY RESIDENTS SYNCHRONIZE TOILET FLUSH.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:14 PM
( 10:27 AM ) The Rat
RETHINKING THE OREO FOR CHINESE CONSUMERS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:27 AM
( 10:14 AM ) The Rat
AMAZING TRANSPARENT ANIMALS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:14 AM
Friday, September 21, 2012
( 12:59 PM ) The Rat
"...AND THE NEXT MINUTE YOU ARE TWICE THAT AGE AND HAVE JUST RECEIVED THE PERSONAL LETTERS FROM BOTH THE DOLCE AND THE GABBANA ASKING YOU TO PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE STOP WEARING THEIR CLOTHING." Ouch.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:59 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2012
( 12:19 AM ) The Rat
FAMOUS LOGO DESIGNS AND HOW MUCH DID THEY COST? via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:19 AM
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
( 12:57 AM ) The Rat
IN PLAIN VIEW: HOW CHILD MOLESTERS GET AWAY WITH IT, via TNY.
One of the most remarkable and disturbing descriptions of the grooming process comes from a twenty-two-page autobiography by a convicted pedophile named Donald Silva. After graduating from medical school, Silva met a family with a nine-year-old named Eric. He first sexually molested Eric on a ski trip that the two of them took together. But that came only a year after he befriended the family, patiently insinuating himself into the good graces of Eric's parents. At one point, Eric's mother ordered an end to the "friendship," because she thought Silva's friends had been smoking pot in her son's presence. But Silva had so won over her husband that, he writes, "this beautiful man found it in his heart to forgive me after I assured him that such a thing would not happen again." Silva describes an unforgettable night that he and Eric spent together after they were "reunited":
"I had recently broken up with Cathy [his girlfriend] when Evelyn, my future wife, arrived for a visit. In that month, Evelyn met Eric's family, and she and his mother became good friends. Evelyn stayed with me at my parents' house, and we enjoyed an active sex life. Eric slept over one night, and the three of us shared a bed for a while. He was going to pretend to be asleep while Evelyn and I made love, but Evelyn declined with him there and went to sleep elsewhere."
To recap: A man uses his new girlfriend to befriend the family of the ten-year-old boy he is molesting. He orchestrates a threesome in a bed in his parents' house. He asks the girl to have sex with him with the ten-year-old lying beside them. She says no. She leaves him alone with his victim—and then he persuades her to marry him...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:57 AM
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
( 5:18 PM ) The Rat
The edges of hoarding are not always clear. Excessive clutter is the hallmark of hoarding and the feature most likely to cause distress and interference. But definitions of what constitutes clutter vary widely. We once received a referral from a psychiatrist shortly after he read a newspaper story about our research. He was treating someone with a severe hoarding problem and thought the man would be a good candidate for our research. When the patient called us, he complained that his hoarding was so bad that his wife had left him. We braced ourselves when we approached his house, but when we got inside, it was as neat as a pin except for two piles—one under the dining room table and one behind a chair in the living room. We assumed that he had miraculously cleared his home, but he said that this was as bad as it had ever been. He complained bitterly about the clutter, insisting that it had resulted in his wife's departure. Apparently, he had convinced his psychiatrist, who had never been to his home, that hoarding was his problem. It was clear to us that he had no hoarding problem, but rather needed an explanation for why his wife had left. After a few minutes with him, it became apparent that his temper, rigidity, and controlling behavior were more likely explanations for his wife's departure. Clearly, his understanding of the word 'clutter' differed from ours, a common occurrence when we talk with people about what we study.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:18 PM
( 4:39 PM ) The Rat
HOW NORTH KOREA MAKES MONEY, from last August.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:39 PM
( 4:31 PM ) The Rat
"NO CITY SAVED SO MANY JEWISH LIVES AS SHANGHAI." Shanghai Revisits Its Forgotten Jewish Past.
During World War II, 20,000 European Jews fled to Shanghai, one of the few places in the world they could go without a visa, and one of the few that put no limit on the number of Jews it would accept. Under Japanese occupation, they were squeezed into one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, living cheek by jowl with working-class Chinese such as Wang.
"They were good friends. They lived together. They played together. They suffered together under the Japanese occupation," said Wang Fanglian's 21-year-old granddaughter, Wang Kaiyan.
The old man learned English and French from his Jewish neighbors—and Japanese from the occupiers. He bought his house, the one with the Western luxuries, at the end of the war from a departing Jewish family.
Then when the remaining Jews, along with other foreigners, fled China after the communist victory in 1949, this chapter of Shanghai history was tucked away and forgotten. "Because of the Cultural Revolution, people didn't want to talk about relations with foreigners," said the granddaughter, referring to the communist purges of the 1960s and 1970s against what were seen as bourgeois influences.
To call it a revival would be an overstatement, but the Jewish history of Shanghai is gradually coming out from the shadows.
The old Jewish quarter is in a quaintly ramshackle neighborhood called Hongkou with red-and-gray brick houses, many of them with patterned gables and fluted turrets, a weird fusion of Asian and European architecture that is uniquely Shanghai. So many Jews were here, along with cafes, cabarets, German bakeries, delicatessens, dance halls and music conservatories, that the neighborhood was nicknamed Little Vienna at the time...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:31 PM
Monday, September 17, 2012
( 7:05 PM ) The Rat
NEWBORN LOSES FAITH IN HUMANITY AFTER RECORD 6 DAYS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:05 PM
Sunday, September 16, 2012
( 10:23 PM ) The Rat
She broke off, adding absently.
'They are such silly letters, too.'
'Have you—er—had any yourself?'
I was a little diffident of asking, but Mrs. Dane Calthrop replied perfectly naturally, her eyes opening a little wider.
'Oh yes, two—no, three. I forget exactly what they said. Something very silly about Caleb and the schoolmistress, I think. Quite absurd, because Caleb has absolutely no taste for fornication. He never has had. So lucky, being a clergyman.'
'Quite,' I said. 'Oh quite.'
—The Moving Finger
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:23 PM
( 8:02 PM ) The Rat
ALSO VIA PLANET MONEY, The Difference Between a $99 Suit and a $5,000 Suit, in One Graphic. Also see the related story, This Man Makes Beautiful Suits, But He Can't Afford to Buy One.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:02 PM
( 7:55 PM ) The Rat
WHAT THE APOLLO ASTRONAUTS DID FOR LIFE INSURANCE. Damn.
About a month before Apollo 11 was set to launch, the three astronauts entered quarantine. And, during free moments in the following weeks, each of the astronauts signed hundreds of covers.
They gave them to a friend. And on important days—the day of the launch, the day the astronauts landed on the moon—their friend got them to the post office and got them postmarked, and then distributed them to the astronauts' families.
It was life insurance in the form of autographs...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:55 PM
Saturday, September 15, 2012
( 11:34 PM ) The Rat
LONDON THEATER EMPLOYING VOLUNTEER NINJAS TO CONFRONT RUDE MOVIEGOERS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:34 PM
( 7:56 PM ) The Rat
WITCH-HUNT IN IRAQ, via the BBC.
Dozens, if not hundreds, of gay people have been killed in recent years, activists say, while the Western-backed government turns a blind eye—or worse. The UN tells the BBC that neglecting these acts of violence makes the Iraqi state a perpetrator in the crimes...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:56 PM
( 7:54 PM ) The Rat
KALAMAZOO, MICH., THE CITY THAT PAYS FOR COLLEGE, via IKM.
It would also mark the start of an important social experiment. From the very beginning, Brown, the only person in town who communicates directly with the Promise donors, has suggested that the program is supposed to do more than just pay college bills. It's primarily meant to boost Kalamazoo's economy. The few restrictions—among them, children must reside in the Kalamazoo public-school district and graduate from one of its high schools—seem designed to encourage families to stay and work in the region for a long time. The program tests how place-based development might work when education is the first investment.
"Other communities invest in things like arenas or offer tax incentives for businesses or revitalize their waterfronts," says Michelle Miller-Adams, a political scientist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, which is located in the city. "The Kalamazoo Promise tries to develop the local economy with a long-term investment in human capital that is intended to change the town from the bottom up." In this regard, the Promise can be seen as an exorbitant ante, staked by private funds, that calls to Kalamazoo's better angels. It stokes hometown pride, prods citizens to engage and pulls businesses and their leaders into the public sphere...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:54 PM
( 7:52 PM ) The Rat
SLIDESHOW of Austrian artist Klaus Pichler's food-waste project.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:52 PM
Friday, September 14, 2012
( 6:01 PM ) The Rat
If we are a monolithic group, it is only in that we are overwhelmingly white. Among the five hundred or so people at Omega this weekend, I will count about three African Americans and five Asians, mainly staff, including the three lovely young Tibetan women who are Seagal's disciples. There are some archetypal New Age Stevie Nicks types decked out in southwestern pot-smoker chic—turquoise jewelry, dangly earrings, flowing skirts, and scarves—who all seem to know one another ('Didn't we meet on the Inner Voyage cruise to Cozumel?' I hear one woman ask another). The healthy contingent of aikido/Seagal devotees from a martial arts studio on Long Island—to a man displaying the thick-necked, wide-assed bulk of the fraternity brother—are here to see a world-recognized martial arts master. Alas, they will be disappointed this weekend because Seagal's inevitable aikido display, while admittedly thrilling (for all his size, he moves like a snake-hipped matador), lasts only about twenty minutes. The rest of the group, myself included, seem to be the unwitting members of the American Gap-oisie. We are eastern seaboard types. Although I am here undercover on assignment, as a Japanese studies major, I fit in rather comfortably with the rest of the vaguely disgruntled seekers who, if not of actual Buddhist leanings, are at least conversant with the Eight-Fold Path. Twenty years ago we would have been readers of Robert Persig. Now we own well-thumbed copies of The Jew in the Lotus. We've done yoga. We've been lactose intolerant.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:01 PM
Thursday, September 13, 2012
( 9:50 PM ) The Rat
DONORSCHOOSE.ORG. Cool idea—sort of like microlending, but for American public schools (um, and without the getting-paid-back part). N.B. They have a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:50 PM
( 12:00 AM ) The Rat
We were a quorum of spores, a federation of fleas. Present yet wholly insignificant. Collectively mobilized, we might at best have hoped to rise up as an unsightly mold or a bothersome itch. Mostly, though, we got drunk. This, we decided, was how we would survive our jobs as assistants in publishing.
Youth is not wasted on the young, it is perpetrated on the young.
With disturbing regularity, the end of the work day found us at the old Monkey Bar, the Dorset Bar, the Warwick Bar, all attached to serviceable and somewhat down-at-heel hotels. Midtown Manhattan used to be full of just such comfortably shabby establishments where career waiters with brilliantined comb-overs and shiny-elbowed jackets might serve marvelously cheap albeit watery drinks, along with free snacks: withered celery sticks; pretzel nuggets accompanying a cheese spread of a color that in nature usually signals 'I am an alluring yet highly poisonous tree frog, beware!'; chicken wings kept barely, salmonella-friendly warm in a chafing dish over a Sterno lamp; and a bounty of unironic, faux Asian, pupu platter dough cylinders, pockets, and triangles that were—oh glory!—fried. Dinner and forgetfullness all for ten dollars. We were also provided a welcome degree of anonymity. In unhappening bars like these, we would never have to run into our classmates from college who twenties were not turning out to be wretched, who were now making upward of six figures in their law and finance jobs. Those with expense accounts tended not to frequent a place, as we did, simply because they had heard that the management didn't stint on the miniature pigs in blankets.
We were not mining coal. We were not even waiting tables. We worked in books, and we did so willingly. Complicit believers in the mythic glamour of a literary New York and our eventual and rightful places therein. Yet still we gathered like wounded veterans of some great war, crystallizing around our despair, our outrage fueled by our outsize sense of entitlement. In truth, in the only work that paid less than being an editorial assistant, you at least got to eat as much chicken as you wanted once the oil had been turned off for the night.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 AM
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
( 11:14 PM ) The Rat
ROBOT TEA INFUSER (and T-Rex Tea Infuser). Though I prefer my Tea Sub.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:14 PM
( 8:26 PM ) The Rat
"A PLAQUE ON THE FRONT LABELED IT 'RENOIR.'"
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:26 PM
( 2:59 PM ) The Rat
APPLE'S NEW FOXCONN EMBARRASSMENT.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:59 PM
( 1:57 PM ) The Rat
I do not go outdoors. Not more than I have to. As far as I'm concerned, the whole point of living in New York City is indoors. You want greenery? Order the spinach.
Paradoxically, I am about to climb a mountain on Christmas Day with a man named Larry Davis. Larry has climbed Mount Monadnock in southwestern New Hampshire every day for the last five-plus years. I will join him on ascent #2,065.
The trip up to New Hampshire will involve a tiny plane from Boston. I tear my medicine cabinet apart like Billie Holliday and still only uncover one Xanax. The hiking boots the outdoor adventure magazine sent me to buy—large, ungainly potatolike things that I have been trying to break in for the past four days—cut into my feet and draw blood as if they were lined with cheese graters. I have to come to hate these Timberlands with a fervor I usually reserve for people. Just think, the shoes I wouldn't be caught dead in might actually turn out to be the shoes I am caught dead in.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:57 PM
( 11:19 AM ) The Rat
SOME ANTI-OBESITY CAMPAIGNS MAY BACKFIRE, RESEARCHERS SAY. Who would ever have anticipated this result?
Many encourage behavior change with helpful tips such as "eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables every day," as a program backed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises.
But other campaigns have been less upbeat. In Georgia, a controversial series of video and billboard advertisements reminds parents that "fat kids become fat adults" and that "being fat takes the fun out of being a kid." An Australian anti-obesity campaign pointedly warns viewers that "the more you gain, the more you have to lose."
Such messages are broadcast amid widespread stigma against the obese: Heavy workers earn less, are more likely to be passed over for jobs and promotions, and are more likely than their thinner peers to be viewed as lazy and undisciplined, researchers have found. A poll released last month by Harris Interactive/HealthDay found that 61% of Americans did not consider negative remarks about a person's weight to be offensive.
Even among physicians, obese patients elicit feelings of prejudice and blame. A 2003 survey, published in the journal Obesity Research, found that half considered their obese patients awkward, ugly, unattractive and unlikely to follow their advice. In addition, one-third of doctors viewed obese patients as weak-willed, sloppy and lazy...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:19 AM
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
( 10:58 PM ) The Rat
NUMBER OF USERS WHO ACTUALLY ENJOY FACEBOOK DOWN TO 4. Hee!
Added Elliott, "As it turns out, the vast majority of human beings tend to become depressed when they see the past five years of their life summarized right there in front of them in a sad little timeline."
Indeed, the Pew report found that 99 percent of Facebook members could not recall having enjoyed any of the social network's features at any time since 2009. Of that subset, 74 percent said they had asked themselves "How has my life come to this?" while checking the website multiple times per day, 67 percent said they were "inevitably plunged into an alternating cycle of vanity and self-disgust" when reviewing tagged pictures of themselves, and 52 percent said they had questioned the whole point of life itself after spending half an hour on the site only to realize the most interesting thing they had seen the entire time was a photo of what someone had for dinner.
In addition, more than three-quarters of users said they had "legitimately considered suicide" while watching politically charged arguments unfold in response to a Facebook post.
Reached for comment, two of the four people still able to spend time on Facebook without immediately calculating how much of their life they just let slip away spoke to reporters about their use of the site...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:58 PM
( 9:32 PM ) The Rat
THE WIRE RPG, via SRD. Spoilers aplenty!
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:32 PM
( 5:10 PM ) The Rat
"AMAZINGLY, THIS MAY BE THE GROSSEST THING WE'VE EVER TASTED," via Sandwich Monday.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:10 PM
( 3:46 PM ) The Rat
NEW YORK'S 10 BEST MAC AND CHEESES (macs and cheese?).
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:46 PM
( 3:38 PM ) The Rat
IN WHICH COUNTRIES IS COCA-COLA NOT SOLD? Also see Can Coke save lives in Africa? from 2010.
Travelling through a remote part of north-eastern Zambia in 1988, Simon Berry was struck that no matter where he stopped, people would ask him: "Would you like a Coca-Cola?"
With just two people for every square kilometre, it was of the most sparsely populated places in the world.
In this area today, one in five children dies before their fifth birthday, most from dehydration caused by diarrhoea.
In a region where the challenging logistics of getting medical supplies to mothers was killing children, Coke was readily available.
Mr Berry's idea was simple: Put medicine in crates of Coca-Cola. Wherever you could buy Coke, you could also get life-saving treatment...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:38 PM
( 12:00 PM ) The Rat
"THERE'S A REASON ALL THESE THINGS ARE LISTED IN MOST MARRIAGE VOWS." What Matters in Matters of Love and Finance, via AB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 PM
( 9:50 AM ) The Rat
NETFLIX MARATHONS FOR THE SOUL: TV RERUNS RESTORE WILLPOWER, STUDY FINDS.
My entire familiy's strong affinity for reruns (and for re-reading certain books) has always worried me somewhat, so this is reassuring, sort of...
In a second study, Derrick asked 86 people to complete a daily diary detailing the effort they had to expend throughout the day, along with their energy levels and what sorts of media they consumed.
She found that people were more likely to reread favorite books and rewatch favorite shows and movies if they had to do something arduous.
The restorative properties of a favorite show, Derrick says, are like human social interaction, but less threatening because there is no threat of rejection or ostracism.
"When you watch a favorite re-run, you typically don't have to use any effort to control what you are thinking, saying or doing. You are not exerting the mental energy required for self-control or willpower," Derrick said in a statement on Thursday. "At the same time, you are enjoying your 'interaction,' with the TV show's characters, and this activity restores your energy."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:50 AM
( 9:38 AM ) The Rat
"...AS WITH ANY COLLECTIVE WORK..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:38 AM
Monday, September 10, 2012
( 12:04 PM ) The Rat
ADDING JESS+THEMESS to the blogroll.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:04 PM
( 10:05 AM ) The Rat
And since we don't just forget things because they don't matter but also forget things because they matter too much—because each of us remembers and forgets in a pattern whose labyrinthine windings are an identification mark no less distinctive than a fingerprint—it's no wonder that the shards of reality one person will cherish as a biography can seem to someone else who, say, happened to have eaten some ten thousand dinners at the very same kitchen table, to be a willful excursion into mythomania.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:05 AM
( 8:55 AM ) The Rat
"NICE PHOTO. WE DON'T GET MUCH OF THIS SORT OF THING WITH THE QUEEN."
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:55 AM
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
( 7:29 PM ) The Rat
When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, 'What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?'
'They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,' Pa said. 'Go to sleep, now.'
But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.
She thought to herself, 'This is now.'
She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.
—Little House in the Big Woods
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:29 PM
Monday, September 03, 2012
( 9:32 PM ) The Rat
HOW TO GET YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION OFF SPOKEO, via AB. Getting oneself off all the databases out there would take forever, of course, but I do feel better having started scrubbing myself from this one, which had somehow collected information from at least eight addresses (in four states) at which I've lived plus a ninth (in a fifth state) at which I intermittently received mail while visiting someone—though I don't recall ever being at that address for longer than a month at a time, and was certainly never there for more than two months at a time. Fyi, they do limit removal requests to five per computer per day, so finishing up erasing all one's own + one's immediate family's listings may take a few days.
Since my job is primarily on the Internet, I'm pretty vigilant about my family's privacy. So every now and then I'll search my name to see what comes up. And even though I removed myself from the Spokeo database a few years ago, I was shocked by what I found this time when I searched my name on this people search site.
Let's just say it felt like everything but my social security number—which every paid Spokeo member has access to. We're talking cell phone, emails, addresses, occupation, relative names... wow.
Even if you don't work on the Internet, if you value your privacy, I strongly suggest you remove your personal information from Spokeo right now...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:32 PM
( 1:52 PM ) The Rat
WHERE AGATHA CHRISTIE DREAMED UP MURDER. I am so getting here, at some point.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:52 PM
( 8:46 AM ) The Rat
HOME AT LAST. From As I Lay Frying, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:46 AM
Sunday, September 02, 2012
( 4:11 PM ) The Rat
"HITCHCOCK WANTED VERTIGO. THE STUDIO REPEATEDLY SHOT IT DOWN..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:11 PM
( 4:01 PM ) The Rat
"SOARING 34 METRES OVER THE AUDIENCE ON THREE ZIP WIRES STRUNG ACROSS PICCADILLY CIRCUS, INCLUDING ONE ON TOP OF THE ICONIC LIGHTS THEMSELVES, THE PERFORMERS WILL RELEASE AROUND 1.5 TONNES OF FEATHERS..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:01 PM
( 3:46 PM ) The Rat
I once knew of a Swedish piano student at Juilliard who spent his first six weeks in New York thinking that Americans were a bunch of delusional blowhards before he understood that the Statue of Liberty that was underwhelming him daily was a one-two-hundredth-size replica on top of a carpet store on the West Side of Manhattan.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:46 PM
( 1:33 PM ) The Rat
CITY STREETS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:33 PM
Saturday, September 01, 2012
( 4:32 PM ) The Rat
Nothing assails the writer's credibility more than the pleasant childhood. I freely admit to having had one myself. A happy fact reflected sadly in my book sales. And yet I'd sooner do most anything short of putting needles in my eyes than willingly remember what it was like to have been a child. Things were not terrible. I was neither beaten nor abused. No dank cellars or chilly garrets for me. Neither my trust nor my body were violated by a clergyman or a beloved family friend. I was safe and sound.
No, indeed, I freely admit to having had all the accoutrements that make for a lovely childhood, one replete with the perquisites of great creature comfort, in a bustling and cultured metropolis, in a home decorated in typical late-twentieth-century secular-humanist Jewish psychiatrist: African masks, paintings both abstract and figurative, framed museum posters, Marimekko bedspreads. And listen, on the hi-fi, why it's The Weavers at Carnegie Hall or Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Or is that Miriam Makeba, clicking her way through a Xhosa lullaby? And on the bookshelf, among the art monographs, the Saul Bellow and Philip Roth novels, the Günter Grass first editions, collected New Yorkers, Time-Life Great Books, National Geographics, and Horizon magazines, there tucked in behind the Encyclopedia Judaica, you might just find that old illustrated copy of The Joy of Oral Sex, a gag gift never thrown out.
Mealtimes were filled with sprightly talk, with each member of the family given their conversational due. Weekends involved regular outings to museums to look at Henry Moore sculptures, or dinosaur bones, then off to the gift shop to buy a liver-speckled cowrie shell or dried sea horse for one thin dime. There were trips to the theater and the ballet, annually to New York City to see relatives and Broadway shows, and to buy an amethyst geode at the gem store on Thirty-fourth and Madison, and excursions even farther afield, to Spain or London or back to the old country where we, the children of the New World, could be shown off to the relations left behind. Yes, I can say with no fear of contradiction that, as the indulged youngest of three, mine was a golden upbringing, under the loving guidance and tutelage of two caring and adoring parents whose own path was illuminated by the sunlight they were convinced shone straight out of my ass.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:32 PM
( 11:34 AM ) The Rat
THE JIL SANDER PAPER BAG THAT WILL COST YOU £185.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:34 AM
( 10:49 AM ) The Rat
211 ROAD TRIPS IN THE WEST. Nom!
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:49 AM