Friday, November 30, 2012
( 12:05 PM ) The Rat
"FRIEND, YOU STAND ON SACRED GROUND..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:05 PM
( 12:13 AM ) The Rat
"HOW GENEROUS OF YOU NOT TO HAVE A 'PROBLEM' WITH THE FACT THAT YOU MARRIED AN ASIAN WOMAN..." via MC. And, my response.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:13 AM
Thursday, November 29, 2012
( 5:11 PM ) The Rat
I KNEW IT!
Sources close to Schwartz have long speculated that his failure to find success in work, love, and life stemmed from his own poor decisions and lack of resolve, but the very source of all causality verified Tuesday that, just as Schwartz has always claimed, the blame for each misstep and unfortunate circumstance rests squarely on the cosmos's shoulders.
Using the metaphysical concepts of blind chance and cosmic predetermination, as well as other powers beyond human comprehension, the universe claimed to have "done its best" to increase the earthly burden on Schwartz, carefully engineering everything from his difficulty concentrating for more than five minutes, to his receding hairline, to the time he threw up on the playground after eating a whole bag of candy.
"We've pretty much been riding Dave's ass from day one," confirmed the eternal concept of fate, which Schwartz has specifically, and accurately, blamed over the years for his inability to find a decent parking spot anywhere, ever. "Like that time he was dating the perfect woman and we introduced him to Deborah, who lured him away from the love of his life and proceeded to make his next two years a psychosexual nightmare of neediness and betrayal. That was all us."
"Oh, yeah, and then we rigged it so she dumped him," added fate, chuckling. "By the way, Deborah's doing great now. Rich husband, two beautiful kids, house on Martha's Vineyard—we set her up real nice"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:11 PM
( 10:22 AM ) The Rat
THE BIG SHRINK. Yum.
Earlier this year, they downsized from a house with more than 3,000 square feet to one that is half that size, cutting their property taxes in half and their aggravation even more.
Looking back on the unused space they once had, Mr. Kelly laughs. "It was a five-bedroom house, one bedroom used for a playroom, one for an office, with a separate dining room and a bathroom upstairs that literally we only used to wash the dog," he says. "We had a dining room and a formal living room—that was where the dog lay on the couch, that was his room."
So if the dog, a collie named Toby, was in the living room, where did the family hang out?
"The eat-in kitchen and the family room in the back of the house," Mr. Kelly says. "If we looked at where we lived as a family, it was the back of the house. When I thought about it, I realized we never spent any time in the bedrooms, except to sleep. The boys did their homework in the kitchen. The house was a waste. My wife and I don't pay to have houses cleaned, we're just not wired that way, and it was killer to vacuum and clean a 3,200-square-foot house. It's a breeze now. We were heating and cooling this huge house, it took a lot of physical and emotional energy to maintain it, and we were not living in that space"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:22 AM
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
( 11:37 PM ) The Rat
IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME ON TWITTER.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:37 PM
( 7:00 PM ) The Rat
CAN RUNNING MARATHONS MAKE YOU SHORTER?
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:00 PM
( 2:28 PM ) The Rat
"WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR THE SHIRT?" "WELL, I THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT WOULD PISS ME OFF THE MOST IF I READ IT ON A SHIRT THAT WAS IN FRONT OF ME..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:28 PM
( 12:22 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:22 PM
( 12:14 PM ) The Rat
Normally, in this kind of an experiment, the objective would be to determine if the subliminal images made the students hungrier or more likely to eat fast food. But DeVoe and Zhong were after broader factors that related not to appetite or food but to speed. They wanted to test whether seeing the fast-food logos influenced how quickly the students read the description of Toronto. Could seeing a McDonald's image for twelve milliseconds make someone read faster?
That was precisely what they found. Although the control group took more than 84 seconds to read the passage about Toronto, the students who had been exposed to the fast-food logos did it in 69.5 seconds. We don't know whether they understood the passage as well; perhaps they didn't. But nevertheless, they finished reading about 20 percent faster. The findings suggest that if your goal is simply to cram, or finish a reading assignment faster, you should go to McDonald's.
In 1960 McDonald's operated 200 restaurants; now that number is 31,000. Today there are more than a quarter-million fast-food restaurants in America, and on any given day one in four Americans eats a meal at one of them. At the same time, the amount of time people spend reading has declined. On a typical weekday, Americans over age fourteen spend just twenty minutes reading. In a given year, one-quarter of Americans aged eighteen to twenty-four do not read any books for pleasure. The median American will read just half a dozen books this year. Fast food both saves us time and speeds up our behavior. With more time and faster reading speeds, we could read more. Yet we read less.
DeVoe and his research team wondered whether fast food, by encouraging us to live faster, might be changing our perceptions in other ways and perhaps even spoiling how we experience the daily pleasures of life. Might the negative effects of fast food reach beyond physical well-being to emotional and mental health? Might reading be just one of many slices of culture that become less pleasurable because of fast-food stimuli? DeVoe's most recent experiments, with his Toronto colleagues Chen-Bo Zhong and Julian House, have yielded some startling results.
DeVoe and his team showed a group of students flashing exclamation points, words, and squares, just as they had done in their study of reading speeds. But this time, instead of asking the students to read, they told them to take a break and look at three pleasant photos from National Geographic magazine. Immediately after participants viewed the photos, they rated how happy they felt at that moment.
Students who had been exposed to twelve-millisecond views of fast-food logos reported feeling significantly less happy after viewing the photos. It wasn't the fast-food images alone that made them less happy; DeVoe and his colleagues found that the happiness of students who saw only the fast-food logos, but not the photos, was essentially the same as the happiness of a control group of students who saw neither fast-food logos nor photos. The key was how the fast-food images interfered with the students' ability to enjoy the photos. Students exposed to fast-food logos alone were fast and happy; students exposed to both fast-food logos and attractive photos were fast and sad.
The researchers wanted to understand why fast-food stimuli would interfere with people's aesthetic experience, so they tried a similar experiment with music. The advantage of music over photos is that the experience is designed to occur during a fixed period of time—the duration of the sound. In this case, students listened to the first eighty-six seconds of "The Flower Duet" from the opera Lakmé.
As with the photos, those students who were exposed to fast-food logos and music were less happy. The logos interfered with their enjoyment. But the fact that the music lasted just eighty-six seconds gave DeVoe and his team another variable to test: impatience. To see if the students exposed to fast-food logos were more impatient, DeVoe and his team asked them to estimate how long the music had lasted. The students who saw the fast-food logos felt the music had taken longer. They scored higher on other tests of impatience as well. The fast-food stimuli warped these students' sense of time. Flashes of fast-food images made them unable to sit back and enjoy the music.
DeVoe sees the effects of fast food as a metaphor for the potential downsides of gaining speed and saving time. Fast food is a magnificent time-saving device, but in speeding us up as well as saving us time it can also make us less happy. We become less happy even if we are spending our extra time doing things—like looking at beautiful photos or listening to music—that ought to give us pleasure. People today read less, take fewer museum trips, and attend fewer concerts. Is that because these activities aren't as fun? The decline in the number and quality of our cultural experiences can be traced, at least in part, to unconscious stimuli that make us live faster...
—Wait: The Art and Science of Delay
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:14 PM
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
( 11:09 PM ) The Rat
NOPE, NOTHING TO SEE HERE, via Passive-Aggressive Notes.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:09 PM
( 6:09 PM ) The Rat
There is a tendency in our planning to confuse the unfamiliar with the improbable. The contingency we have not considered seriously looks strange; what looks strange is thought improbable; what is improbable need not be considered seriously.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:09 PM
( 9:09 AM ) The Rat
"I HAVE HEARD IT ALL NOW"—reader comment on this story.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:09 AM
Monday, November 26, 2012
( 10:24 PM ) The Rat
"IT WAS SUDDENLY VERY QUIET IN THE ROOM..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:24 PM
( 7:19 PM ) The Rat
"I WAS STUNNED INITIALLY AND THEN I BECAME IRRITATED..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:19 PM
( 3:32 PM ) The Rat
"I THINK THE DIET VERSION OF THIS IS TO GO BACK IN TIME AND MAKE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CHOICES WITH YOUR LIFE." Sandwich Monday tests the Butter & Sugar Burger.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:32 PM
( 11:40 AM ) The Rat
WHOA. Via IKM.
Yet another passenger ship could be about to anchor in Hong Kong's popular waters, but berths aboard this particular vessel will be more permanent.
New sketches from a company in the city on China's southern coast have proposed the creation of a floating cemetery. Designed as a possible solution to Hong Kong's shortage building space—particularly for graveyards—Bread Studio has come up with "Floating Eternity."
The structure would hold a rotating wall of 370,000 niches which are compartments allotted for people to place their urn containing the remains of their loved ones. Designed like a cruise ship, the floating cemetery would anchor along Hong Kong's coastline, docking at a designated pier for visitors who want to visit their deceased relatives.
"Architects are always made to think about life when designing buildings but not many think about death," said Benny Lee, a designer at Bread Studio. "I was watching TV and saw a group of people encouraged by the government to scatter their loved ones' ashes in the sea and noticed that the boat they were using to transport people out was really small. I thought why not make that boat bigger, better and more enjoyable for families"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:40 AM
Friday, November 23, 2012
( 9:27 PM ) The Rat
"HAVING SATISFIED THEIR CURIOSITY..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:27 PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
( 7:42 PM ) The Rat
WHICH JAMES BOND VILLAIN PLAN MADE THE MOST ECONOMIC SENSE? via WO. You know you've wondered.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:42 PM
( 7:40 PM ) The Rat
"IT'S LIKE MAKING OUT WITH SOME TASTY NAPALM." Sriracha Lip Balm is now available at The Oatmeal's store.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:40 PM
( 4:58 PM ) The Rat
OH, YOU'RE HAVING A STORM, via AS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:58 PM
( 4:30 PM ) The Rat
EVERYONE GET THE HELL OUT OF THE KITCHEN RIGHT NOW BEFORE I KILL ALL OF YOU CRANBERRY-ORANGE DRESSING and other Recipes for a Fun-Filled Thanksgiving, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:30 PM
( 1:09 PM ) The Rat
By this time I was forty-eight, almost forty-nine. Jack was fifty-five, almost fifty-sex. I felt, instinctively, that I didn't have much time, and my instinct was confirmed on Jack's fifty-sixth birthday when he read me the card he received from his eighty-eight-year-old father: "Dear son, today you are fifty-six. Soon you will be seventy. Love, Dad." So I made up my mind to woo Jack by whatever means necessary. It was, in fact, a godsend that my house was falling apart. He repaired plumbing and wiring. He patched the roof and put windows in the barn. He fixed the whirlpool bath. The horses chewed the fencing and he replaced the boards. (He said, "That horse wouldn't leave me alone. He kept putting his nose in my tool bucket and then watching me pound nails." I said, "He likes you. He wouldn't go near Steve.") Also in my favor was the fact that he loved to eat and I was a good cook. Artichoke bisque. Risotto. Braised chicken with rosemary and mustard. Homemade French baguettes. He was a sensualist and I massaged his feet and shoulders. No one knew we were dating because we didn't leave my house in four months. He would come over about eight-thirty and leave about ten-thirty.
But we didn't make love, because there was another woman.
The other woman pre-existed me. She and Jack had dated for about a year, and the relationship had been officially over for about a year. She was involved with two other men by the time I came along, an acupuncturist and the owner of an upscale antique shop. The acupuncturist was involved with several other women and wouldn't commit to N. The antique dealer had a shadowy past and his age was unknown, but he was willing to commit to N. N. herself had several "bits on the side," one of whom drove a Rolls-Royce and was ready to leave his wife for her. Iowa had never been like this. Every so often I would ask Jack to describe N. She was, he said, "A sex goddess." In the meantime, my second husband, who was named Bill, decided to move to California to spend more time with our daughter. He rented an apartment in our village. I got on well with him and helped him move in. A few weeks later, I was sitting at a stop sign, trying to turn onto our main road. [My newly-ex-husband] Steve passed through the intersection, traveling west, then Bill passed through the intersection traveling west, then Jack passed through the intersection traveling east. I thought, "Pay attention, this will never happen again." And it never did. Bill had a beautiful girlfriend back in Iowa who was still tangentially involved with her first husband.
—Jane Smiley, "Iowa Was Never Like This"
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:09 PM
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
( 9:28 AM ) The Rat
OMNISHAMBLES NAMED WORD OF THE YEAR BY OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY. I'm not saying there can't be a use for this word... but it's so sadly lacking in the directness and grace of one of my own favorite words, clusterfuck.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:28 AM
Monday, November 19, 2012
( 3:29 PM ) The Rat
[Annette's] apartment is a comfortable jumble, and I find myself comparing it with mine. My place is spare and weirdly furnished, with the baby grand piano Lenny bought me taking up half the living room, and a big brass bed with white iron bars dominating the bedroom. The closets are stuffed with designer clothes Lenny has bought me over the years, clothes I will one day stuff into giant trash bags and donate to the Salvation Army.
Annette hands me a mug of tea. She's wearing a pink flannel robe, and I want to be her. I want to have a life where robes and cats and mugs of tea are within the realm of possibility.
"Can I spend the night?" I ask.
"Well, it'll be hard for you to stay here," says Annette, "but my downstairs neighbor is in LA for pilot season. I have keys to her place. You can stay there as long as you like."
And so it happens that the night after my father's funeral I am in the apartment of a stranger. Annette leaves me with my mug of tea and an extra blanket, and retires to study her Tennessee Williams monologue for tomorrow night's class. I want to hold on to the sleeve of her robe and beg her not to leave, but instead I hug the blanket to my chest and nod when she asks if I'll be okay. This is the first moment I have actually been by myself since my father's death. My father is alone in the ground, my mother is alone in her hospital bed, and I am here in the home of someone named Leanne who is in LA for pilot season.
Next to the bay window overlooking West Seventy-fifth Street there is an antique rolltop desk and an old wooden chair. I bend over the desk and start riffling through the papers, mail, and magazines lying around. I find an eight-by-ten of Leanne, who, it turns out, is a beautiful redheaded Juilliard graduate with a serious list of credits. She's done everything from regional Ibsen to a small role in a Stallone movie. I picture her now, on the West Coast, where all good little actresses should be. It's ten o'clock in New York, seven in LA. She's probably just finishing up her nightly aerobics class after a day filled with auditions and callbacks.
I pull open the file drawers and begin exploring the life of this woman in whose apartment I am spending my first fatherless night. I know I'm doing something wrong, something that would horrify Annette if she could peep through a hole in her floor and see me now, but I can't help myself. I'm looking for a toehold on a slippery slope, and I think I might find it in this desk, as if buried in these drawers might be the secret to living life as a young woman.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:29 PM
( 3:21 PM ) The Rat
MORE CALIFORNIANS DRIVING HIGH THAN DRUNK ON WEEKENDS, STUDY SAYS. And yet, while driving in California, I've had a passenger observe that the driver in the car next to us at a stoplight was carefully mixing himself a screwdriver out of little airline bottles of vodka—but have not had the equivalent happen with pot.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:21 PM
( 9:29 AM ) The Rat
RAYMOND CARVER'S OKCUPID PROFILE, EDITED BY GORDON LISH, via WC. My favorite edit in this is the first one.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:29 AM
( 9:26 AM ) The Rat
"ANY GIRL YOU KNOW IS SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST A PRINCESS." Debbie Sterling's Kickstarter video, which if nothing else is getting lots of press. Not entirely sure what I think of this, but on the whole I'm probably in favor—I'd be entirely in favor if I were sure it would work. I certainly find that shot of the entirely pink aisle of girls' toys revolting, but in my own district the problem was less that boys were encouraged to build things etc. while girls weren't, and more that nobody was—our science program was nearly negligible till sixth grade.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:26 AM
Sunday, November 18, 2012
( 8:43 PM ) The Rat
BAR MITZVAH MARKS LOCAL BOY'S PASSAGE INTO MATERIALISM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:43 PM
Saturday, November 17, 2012
( 6:22 PM ) The Rat
USING JUST 10 PERCENT OF YOUR BRAIN? THINK AGAIN.
The myth about learning styles was the most popular: 94% of the teachers believed that students perform better when lessons are delivered in their preferred learning style. Indeed, students do have preferences about how they learn; the problem is that these preferences have little to do with how effectively they learn...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:22 PM
Friday, November 16, 2012
( 7:49 PM ) The Rat
INFOGRAPHIC: 5 YEARS OF THE KINDLE. I'd forgotten the first-generation model cost $399?!
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:49 PM
( 5:59 PM ) The Rat
INTRIGUING HEALTH CHECK SEGMENT on rubella vaccinations.
Claudia Hammond. Jess Metcalf, who's a research fellow at Oxford University, has just conducted research in South Africa to try to work out the ideal proportion of the population to reach to reduce both rubella and congenital rubella syndrome.
Jess Metcalf. While vaccination almost always reduces the total number of cases, it also has this slightly odd side effect, which is that vaccination tends to increase the average age of infection. And this is because, if you imagine—if you have a population where nobody is being vaccinated and rubella is circulating freely, this means that, you know, tons of kids have rubella, and it'll take one little child a very short period of time before they meet another little child who has rubella, and they'll get sick—you know, by say age four or age five. If you start vaccinating against rubella, rubella becomes very very rare, and so for the few children that haven't been vaccinated, it might take them sixteen, seventeen, twenty years before they actually encounter another individual with rubella, and contract rubella. And that might be at the age at which women are thinking about having children. So by vaccinating against rubella you can actually potentially make the true burden of the disease worse. Because the disease in children is really not an issue—it's only disease in women of childbearing age, that is a serious issue...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:59 PM
( 4:10 PM ) The Rat
LIVE STREAMING of La Clemenza di Tito tonight!
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:10 PM
( 3:21 PM ) The Rat
THE FOOD TIMELINE, POPULAR AMERICAN FOODS BY DECADE, via MC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:21 PM
( 12:47 PM ) The Rat
"YOU HAD THE USUAL SUSPECTS AT THE TOP; YOU HAD YOUR CEOS, LAWYERS, MEDIA—TV AND RADIO." The Pros to Being a Psychopath, via IKM.
Nurses were in there [among the low scorers]. Accountants were pretty low on psychopathy. One of the interesting ones: doctors. Doctors were low on psychopathy, but surgeons were actually in the top ten, so there's kind of a dividing line between surgeons and doctors.
I've interviewed a lot of special forces troops, especially the British Special Air Service. They're like Navy Seals. That's a very good example of people who are pretty high on those psychopathic traits who are actually in a perfect occupation. Also, I interview in the book a top neurosurgeon—this was a surgeon who takes on operations that are especially risky—who said to me, "The most important thing when you're conducting a dangerous operation, a risky operation, is you've got to be very cool under pressure, you've got to be focused. You can't have too much empathy for the person that you’re operating on, because you wouldn’t be able to conduct that operation." Surgeons do very nasty things to people when they're on the operating table. If things do go wrong, the most important facet in a surgeon's arsenal is decisiveness. You cannot freeze...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:47 PM
( 7:48 AM ) The Rat
UPDATE: WRITTEN IN SOAP.
Given that it's now over three months (yes, a quarter of a year, where did it go?)—and we've had some pretty inclement weather in that time—I thought it was high time I made good on my promise to keep you updated on the progress of the soap statue in Cavendish Square...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:48 AM
( 12:55 AM ) The Rat
"THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD..." via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:55 AM
Thursday, November 15, 2012
( 9:42 PM ) The Rat
E-READING ISN'T READING. Nice essay, hilariously misplaced in Slate, as you can see pretty quickly skimming the reactions to it.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:42 PM
( 9:34 PM ) The Rat
ON 'DISASTER UTOPIAS.'
The history of modern disasters entails a parallel history of people suddenly exhibiting communal, altruistic impulses. There were not enough lifeboats to save all 2,207 on board the Titanic. And yet, as a 2001 study confirmed, women and children, despite being physically weaker than men, were more likely to survive—suggesting that, in a nightmare scenario of scarce resources, many people chose sacrifice over self-interest. Likewise, a NIST report on the evacuation patterns of office workers in the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 attacks told a story of order, cooperation, and selflessness, not mayhem or panic.
A growing body of research suggests that large-scale emergencies loosen social mores just enough to open up new spaces for human resilience, imagination, and compassion. Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, coined the term "disaster utopia" to describe how people band together after a crisis, suspending conflicts or differences to help one another. She cites the provisional, fleeting society that cropped up in the wake of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and firestorm, which destroyed more than 28,000 homes, businesses, and municipal buildings. Gathered in Golden Gate Park, the newly homeless started soup kitchens and stitched together sheets to build refugee tents. They sang for each other and got married at far higher rates than usual. A strange, almost joyous liberation animated the city, one that survivors would remember with nostalgia, just as the Polish émigrés Solnit interviewed half-longed for the bad old days under a vicious Communist regime, because the harsh conditions forged such close communities of resistance. "Imagine a society," Solnit writes, "where the fate that faces [people], no matter how grim, is far less so for being shared, where much once considered impossible, both good and bad, is now possible or present, and where the moment is so pressing that old complaints and worries fall away, where people feel important, purposeful, at the center of the world."
Why do we behave so well when our normal social structures vanish? Maybe we're grateful that the crisis left us alive. Maybe doing good works gives us a sense of control or agency. Or maybe being kind just makes us happy. One of the oddest and trickiest parts of Solnit's thesis holds that people are not only more generous to one another in the wake of disaster, but that they are happier, too. Or, to be more precise, they experience "an emotion graver than happiness but deeply positive," a kind of fulfillment that comes with recapturing what Solnit describes as humankind's natural state. She argues that Westerners have internalized certain value systems—capitalism, individualism—that in some ways contradict our social wiring. Disruptive events recalibrate us to a "default setting," which is "altruistic, communitarian [and] resourceful." Solnit does not seek to minimize the grief and suffering crises can cause. Yet she believes that dealing with extreme situations helps us access a satisfying depth of feeling. Perhaps that's one reason why people farther from a disaster often are more terrified by it. (Another explanation may be that onlookers can spare the emotional bandwidth for fear, while those at the epicenter simply do what they must.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:34 PM
( 8:35 PM ) The Rat
For his second wife, he chose another daughter of a privileged Orthodox clan. Dorothy Gribetz was a lovely, sweet-natured girl, and according to everything I've ever heard, my father was crazy about her. So was [his six-year-old daughter from his first marriage] Susie. He proposed, she accepted, and plans for a wedding were set in motion. It wasn't until the night before their wedding that my father's best friend told him a rumor that had been whispered throughout the Orthodox community: Dorothy had Hodgkin's disease, which in those days was a terminal illness. She didn't know it—her parents had kept it a secret from her, and from my father as well.
The night before their wedding my father paid a visit to Dorothy's parents. Was it true? Was she dying? Yes, they told him, Dorothy's prognosis was that she had a year to live. They had kept it from him because they saw how happy he made their daughter, and they wanted him to have that happiness, even if only for a short time—even at the expense of his own, and of Susie's.
I picture my father now, standing beneath the chuppah on his wedding day. He is not the father of my memory, but of my imagination: he is a young man—perhaps he is thirty-two—but his eyes are already old. He turns to watch his bride walk down the aisle. She is a vision of innocence in her simple white gown. This should be the happiest day of his life. His eyes sting as she moves toward him, flanked on either side by her parents, and his heart is hollow. He is watching himself become a widower. He looks around the shul at the assembled guests and blinks hard against the thought that they will all be gathered here again in the not too distant future.
—Dani Shapiro, Slow Motion
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:35 PM
( 11:49 AM ) The Rat
ABSINTHE is now being put in caramels, which is yet another sign—if any were needed—that it's definitively jumped the shark.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:49 AM
( 10:04 AM ) The Rat
"AT ANOTHER STALL, WHERE A BARBER WAS GIVING FREE HAIRCUTS, I SCOFFED WHEN I WAS OFFERED A TRIM. 'MY HAIR IS TRENDY AS-IS,' I SAID. 'IT'S IN A BUN, YOU SEE.'" New York Times Trend Stories, via WC.
In the end, I was able to embody seven separate trends. Three of them involve hair, some of which (fair warning) is of the pubic variety...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:04 AM
( 8:58 AM ) The Rat
"IN FACT, THE BIGGEST KILLER WAS DISEASE." WWI: 10 Telling Images, via TT.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:58 AM
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
( 9:09 PM ) The Rat
"WHILE WE HONOR OUR SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN, WE OFTEN FORGET THAT MANY SERVICE MEMBERS MARRY MEN AND WOMEN WHO DO NOT THEMSELVES WEAR A UNIFORM BUT MUST LIVE BY THE OATHS THEIR SPOUSES TAKE..." In Praise of Holly Petraeus: And Other Military Spouses.
The assumption is, from the moment the vows are finished, that a military spouse will "fall in" with whatever her spouse's career needs. The old joke is that "If the Army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one"; in other words, you're expendable, and might be troublesome. Women whose love for a soldier transcends their discomfort with field conditions were once known as "camp followers." Over time, the military adjusted. Pensions were granted to war widows, housing was added to posts and bases, and services provided for the children of military marriages (although the appellation "brats" has never left them). The military is still adjusting, of course, and Holly Petraeus has been an amazing part of that change in her efforts to help families learn more about their consumer rights.
In return, military spouses receive some rights—but not as many as they could or, in my opinion, should. Moving expenses are paid. Medical, dental, and other benefits are supplied. Many military communities are tight knit and offer the kind of support that many Americans believe no longer exists.
But there are so many stresses, from the known, like loneliness during deployments, to the unspoken, like pressure to participate in neighborhood bible-study sessions that are unique marks of military spouses compared to others. Although First Lady Michelle Obama has publicly supported military families and made some strides in focusing efforts to get them more resources, neither she nor any person who has not walked a mile several paces behind a military rank will ever know what it means to always come second, to always be the “dependent” family member, to always compromise if you know that you’re married to someone whose star (or stars, in the case of Petraeus) is ascendant. The greatest stress, of course, is the worry that one day a service member may not return...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:09 PM
( 7:41 PM ) The Rat
"DEAR SANTA..." Cute (albeit overpriced).
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:41 PM
( 5:52 PM ) The Rat
SOME INTERESTING STUFF on the Macdonald triad.
Thanks largely to misconceptions and spotty research, the notion that the Macdonald triad (animal cruelty, fire-setting, and bed-wetting) points to murder-prone kids has become an entrenched stereotype. This easy formula carries a heavy load, but it actually offers little for the prediction of criminality...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:52 PM
( 5:46 PM ) The Rat
"SCIENTISTS IN TAIWAN WERE CURIOUS [AS TO] HOW METH INTERACTS WITH THE INFLUENZA VIRUS..." Of course they were.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:46 PM
( 5:02 PM ) The Rat
STYLISH BEARS & THIEVING FISH: THE GROWN-UP KID LIT OF JON KLASSEN. These look marvelous—and the Amazon reviews are hilariously polarized.
Klassen, who just came off a national book tour for This Is Not My Hat, started out as an animator working on the film Coraline and illustrating other author's books. Eventually, he decided to do his own. His first book, I Want My Hat Back, follows a polite, blank-faced bear as he asks various woodland creatures if they’ve seen his chapeau. Spoiler alert: He gets it back...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:02 PM
( 4:31 PM ) The Rat
UNBABY.ME LETS YOU HACK THE CUTENESS OUT OF YOUR OWN FACEBOOK NEWSFEED, via Forbes. The WaPo coverage on this (both links are from August, when the service debuted) chastises users for being "hostile to families." Great thinking, genius—I'm sure there's no other imaginable reason that anyone might find it painful to see photographs of other people's children. (With that nod to the "sanity-preserving" nature of the service, the Forbes writer sounds more like he gets it.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:31 PM
( 4:18 PM ) The Rat
SOME THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS ABOUT MAKING THINGS FOR THE WEB, via The Oatmeal.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:18 PM
( 4:17 PM ) The Rat
THE NEW YORK CITY (ULTRA) MARATHON, via Outside.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:17 PM
( 3:51 PM ) The Rat
REVIEW of Andrew Solomon's new book.
The story of Megan, Michael, and their unexpected family life is one of many in Andrew Solomon's 'Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity' (Scribner). Solomon, an assiduous journalist with an essayistic bent, is fascinated by the paradoxes of procreation: how do you nurture a child who may be unlike anything you’ve encountered before? Most people who consider themselves black, say, or Jewish, have parents who do, too. Solomon calls this 'vertical identity,' because it flows naturally down the generations. It's a conduit through which the benefits of shared experience—empathy, hindsight, a sense of who you are—can travel. But what if, like Jacob, you are a deaf child with hearing parents? What if you're a dwarf with parents of normal proportions? These identities are 'horizontal': there's a rupture between the child's life and the parents' experiences. They seem to challenge many premises of family and interrupt the basic continuity that it presumes.
Solomon is in many ways the perfect writer for the subject—nuanced, thorough, humane, and a gifted stylist—and, trying to get to the root of this conflict, he pushes horizontal identity as far as it will go. He includes chapters not only on deafness and dwarfism but on Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disability, early genius, conception through rape, criminal behavior, and transgender life. He talks with more than three hundred families; interviews those around them; and reads extensively about the conditions they face. When bonds within families begin to fray, he seeks to understand what went wrong...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:51 PM
( 1:12 PM ) The Rat
SOCCER PLAYERS SHOW SIGNS OF BRAIN DAMAGE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:12 PM
( 8:06 AM ) The Rat
"BUNCH OF HARDCORE GANGSTERS DOING HARDCORE GANGSTER SHIT," via ATIAC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:06 AM
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
( 6:55 PM ) The Rat
If there was no such word as love, our vocabulary would be richer, and we'd have to struggle harder to find the right words. Everyone would be so long winded and Shakespearean in their range of emotional expression. The word love came along and wiped out all sorts of terms in a semantical bloodbath.
Without the word love, people would speak in terms of sensations, like the sensation of standing waist-deep in a tub of warm plum sauce. Or the sensation of being tickled on the back of the knees. Some would say they felt like they had just swallowed a honey-soaked boxing glove, and others might say that they were feeling like their guts had been yanked out and spread across the kitchen floor.
Without the word love, you would get wedding invitations that would say things like, "On July 15, join us at the Five Holy Martyrs Church of Worship to help celebrate Barry Lyscinzy's feeling of aimless goodwill that he's decided to direct onto Robin Krupka, who's receptive to the idea of being with a man she's fairly certain will never inflict hurt on her"...
—Jonathan Goldstein, from "Before It Had a Name"
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:55 PM
( 5:43 PM ) The Rat
OBAMA VICTORY INFURIATES PAKISTANI DRONE VICTIMS. Not that a Romney win would've made a difference here of course, but still.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:43 PM
( 5:42 PM ) The Rat
"THE REPORT NOTED: 'LET'S BE HONEST THAT THIS IS SOMETHING OF AN EXPLOSIVE DEVICE.'"
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:42 PM
Monday, November 12, 2012
( 11:22 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:22 PM
( 10:10 PM ) The Rat
What qualities are there for which a man gets so speedy a return of applause, as those of bodily superiority, activity, and valour? Time out of mind strength and courage have been the theme of bards and romances; and from the story of Troy down to to-day, poetry has always chosen a soldier for a hero. I wonder is it because men are cowards in heart that they admire bravery so much, and place military valour so far beyond every other quality for reward and worship?
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:10 PM
( 9:43 PM ) The Rat
"CELERY WAS THE ACAI BERRY OF THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:43 PM
( 9:42 PM ) The Rat
"IF YOU GET VEGEMITE IN THE MARGINE I KILL YOU!"
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:42 PM
( 5:57 PM ) The Rat
CHINESE WOMAN REMARRIES HER EX IN ORDER TO MAKE LIFE-SAVING ORGAN DONATION. Don't miss nos. 4-6 in the slideshow.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:57 PM
( 1:49 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:49 PM
( 11:56 AM ) The Rat
"HEY, REBECCA. YOUR CRAZY EX-BOYFRIEND IS MAKING A FACEBOOK PAGE FOR HIS CAT."
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:56 AM
( 10:46 AM ) The Rat
GET A HOLLYWOOD STUDIO TO GREEN LIGHT YOUR PICTURE, IN 29 EASY STEPS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:46 AM
( 10:37 AM ) The Rat
THIS DREAM HOUSE WAS ENTIRELY BUILT AROUND A GIANT THREE-STORY-HIGH BOOKSHELF. Priorities, man.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:37 AM
( 7:36 AM ) The Rat
8.4 MILLION NEW YORKERS SUDDENLY REALIZE NEW YORK CITY A HORRIBLE PLACE TO LIVE. Heh!
"This is no place to raise a kid, that's for sure," said 32-year-old Brandon Rushing, a lifelong New Yorker. "I grew up here and I turned into a giant asshole. Why would I want that for my son?"
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:36 AM
Sunday, November 11, 2012
( 5:35 PM ) The Rat
YOU KNOW THAT WHOLE "WHO CARES IF LANCE DOPED—EVERYBODY IN THE SPORT WAS USING EPO OR WORSE, YOU COULDN'T NOT DO IT" ARGUMENT? (To say nothing of its "Gotta go—I'm sitting down with my kids tonight to explain about how it's perfectly fine to cheat, as long as cheating enables you to beat everybody else" corollary.) The people making it need to explain how people like this guy happen.
Bassons, who clashed with Armstrong during the 1999 Tour over the Frenchman's outspoken views on doping, was reacting to comments by Floyd Landis in an interview with the Sunday Times's Paul Kimmage published earlier this week. In the article, Kimmage cited Bassons as someone who rejected the drug-taking that Landis saw as a necessary evil to fulfil his ambitions in the Tour de France.
Landis wasn’t familiar with Bassons's story, but seemed impressed by what Kimmage told him.
"It seems to me like he tried to do what I considered as option C as I was thinking this stuff through and figured it was not worth my time, especially in the United States where Lance was now a big superstar and nobody knew who I was," Landis said.
"I'm impressed. I don't know how many guys would [have the strength of character not to dope] but there's not a lot... I don't know [Bassons]. I would like to know him though."
Now working for the Agence française de lutte antidopage (AFLD) in the Aquitaine region of south-west France, Bassons said today that Landis’s admiration was "kind but misplaced."
"I don't think I was courageous not to take drugs," the former Festina, Française des Jeux and Jean Delatour rider told Cyclingnews.
"To me, courage is all about overcoming fear, and I was never scared. I was just lucky—I'd had a balanced upbringing, lots of love in my life, and no void which made me want to dope. Refusing to take drugs was easy for me, whereas other people have things missing in their lives which mean that's not the case. Doping is always a response to a void, a need—whether it's for money, or success, or love, or something else. That's why it's a mistake to fight the war on doping in terms of health—because, if you actually analyse it, doping responds to a need there too"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:35 PM
( 9:47 AM ) The Rat
"NOT GAY, JOHN. ARISTOCRATIC." Almost hurt myself laughing at this.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:47 AM
Saturday, November 10, 2012
( 10:31 AM ) The Rat
22 THINGS YOU'RE DOING WRONG, via EP. Some of these are pretty amazing.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:31 AM
( 6:55 AM ) The Rat
RITUAL AND REVELRY: THE ART OF DRINKING IN ASIA. Awesome. Or as someone commented on Facebook when the British Museum linked this: "ParTAY!!!"
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:55 AM
Friday, November 09, 2012
( 10:55 PM ) The Rat
"IF U LIKE ICEBERG WEDGE SALADS GTFO OF MY LIFE." 9 Most Controversial Salads. So many good ones here but I'm especially partial to Alison Wiedmann, C0L3Y, and drew wright.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:55 PM
( 9:43 PM ) The Rat
TREES 'TALK' TO EACH OTHER. Mostly about how dumb your hair looks.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:43 PM
( 9:24 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:24 PM
( 12:25 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:25 PM
( 11:33 AM ) The Rat
SANDY INSPIRES FIRST DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS U.S. RELIEF EFFORT.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:33 AM
( 8:18 AM ) The Rat
AREA MAN ACHIEVES YOUR DREAM. Linked off Suicide Attempts a Desperate Cry for Death.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:18 AM
( 12:35 AM ) The Rat
HEH, via AB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:35 AM
Thursday, November 08, 2012
( 10:27 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:27 PM
( 9:01 PM ) The Rat
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO YOUR 20-YEAR-OLD SELF? Let's just say it would involve a lot of profanity.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:01 PM
( 2:47 PM ) The Rat
MATHEMATICALLY CHALLENGING BAGELS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 PM
( 1:54 PM ) The Rat
RECYCLED HEART DEVICES OFFER NEW LIFE IN POOR NATION, STUDY FINDS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:54 PM
( 11:06 AM ) The Rat
SKYFALL opens tomorrow, not that anyone should need a reminder.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:06 AM
( 9:42 AM ) The Rat
A LOOK BEHIND THE LOOK OF ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS, via JC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:42 AM
( 8:57 AM ) The Rat
MOZART ON DEATH, via TT.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:57 AM
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
( 10:11 PM ) The Rat
THE PROFESSIONAL 'CUDDLER' WHO MAKES $260 A DAY.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:11 PM
( 12:53 PM ) The Rat
In our native mythology, the tie between male and male is not only considered innocent, it is taken for the very symbol of innocence itself; for it is imagined as the only institutional bond in a paradisal world in which there are no (heterosexual) marriages or giving in marriage. Paradisal, however, means for hard-headed Americans not quite real; and there is, in fact, a certain sense of make-believe in almost all portrayals of the holy marriage of males, set as they typically are in the past, the wilderness, or at sea—that is to say, in worlds familiar to most readers in dreams. After Mark Twain, one of the partners to such a union is typically conceived of as a child, thus inviting the reader to identify the Great Good Place where the union is consummated with his own childhood, a region more remote and less real to the grown man than the dimmest reaches of pre-history. It is Stephen Crane who finds the proper name for that Neverland, calling it "Whilomville," which is to say a town which never had an "is" but only a half-recalled, half-invented "was." Everywhere in our classic fiction—in Cooper's use of the historical past, in Melville's evocation of his own receding youth, in Twain's or Faulkner's reversion to a rural boyhood, there is implicit a suggestion that the Edenic affair is lived out in a Garden in the process of being destroyed. The sound of axes is heard; the trees fall; the ground is broken for factories and stores; and the reader feels that he is being asked to recreate in fantasy a place to which neither he nor the author can ever return—the "home" to which the American writer complains he cannot go back again.
In our classic fiction, the heroes of such attempts at evasion are shown, at their stories' close, remanded to the world of reality. Ishmael, "alone escaped alive," comes back to tell his tale, Gordon Pym to write down his authentic account of adventure, Huck Finn to take another whirl at being civilized. Though he is already speaking of his next escape, even the motherless boy is at last presented at the moment of his restitution to the society of women. Henry James, too sophisticated to equivocate about the reality of the Great Good Place, portrays his hero as awakening from a simple dream, from a twelve-hour sleep. Natty alone is never portrayed outside the universe of fantasy; pursuing the elusive West to the very end, he makes of his death the ultimate escape, for which his later avatars yearn but which they can never seem quite to attain. Those others act out not a permanent removal from the society which irks them, but an outing, a long excursion. Tom Sawyer's career as a pirate parodies the dream to which his author subscribed, gives the whole game away: the vows of eternal alienation and the message to Aunt Polly concealed in a pocket all the time: "We ain't dead—we are only off being pirates."
—Love and Death in the American Novel
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:53 PM
( 9:30 AM ) The Rat
WHY YOU CAN'T VOTE WITH YOUR IPHONE.
Some interesting bits in this.
Despite the potential for democracy hijacking, one country has managed to make Internet elections work—Estonia, the tiny Baltic Sea nation that gave birth to, among other things, Skype. A major difference between that country and the U.S., however, is the political system: Estonia has four major parties, six in all. A vote for an Estonian candidate may not go to the winning party, but probably would end up with at least partial representation in a coalition government. "Allegations of fraud are much higher in places where there are two parties," Hall said, "because it's easier to say, 'My candidate lost because of fraud,' rather than because I have a crappy candidate."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:30 AM
( 9:02 AM ) The Rat
SIRI, IN CHINA, WILL NO LONGER DIRECT YOU TO PROSTITUTES.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:02 AM
( 8:50 AM ) The Rat
THE ELUSIVE PRAIRIE-DOG VOTE!
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:50 AM
Monday, November 05, 2012
( 12:57 PM ) The Rat
SHADOW OF THE DUCK SHOWER CURTAIN.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:57 PM
( 12:04 PM ) The Rat
"KOCH LIKES TO SHOWCASE UTOPIAS IN BLIND TASTE-TESTS ALONGSIDE A $300 PORT AND A $500 COGNAC; HE SAYS IT WINS NEARLY EVERY TIME." Sam Adams' Utopias Beer Costs $190 a Bottle.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:04 PM
( 12:00 PM ) The Rat
BALENCIAGA, NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE TO PART WAYS. I'm trying to picture how the want ad for his replacement is going to be phrased.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 PM
( 11:54 AM ) The Rat
STAYING PRESENT IN A NEW RELATIONSHIP, via AB. Not sure I'd come across the phrase "warmed-over shit on burnt toast" before...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:54 AM
( 9:21 AM ) The Rat
BRITISH HAVE INVADED NINE OUT OF TEN COUNTRIES—SO LOOK OUT LUXEMBOURG, via MC.
Mr Laycock, who has previously published books on Roman history, began the unusual quest after being asked by his 11-year-old son, Frederick, how many countries the British had invaded.
After almost two years of research he said he was shocked by the answer. "I was absolutely staggered when I reached the total. I like to think I have a relatively good general knowledge. But there are places where it hadn't occurred to me that these things had ever happened. It shocked me."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:21 AM
Sunday, November 04, 2012
( 9:04 PM ) The Rat
NON-NATIVE-AMERICAN NATIONS' TERRITORIAL CLAIMS OVER NAFTA COUNTRIES, 1750-2008, via AB. Very cool.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:04 PM
( 8:41 PM ) The Rat
"SAY IT... NEAR THE FLOWER SHOP."
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:41 PM
( 3:36 PM ) The Rat
THE 7 CRAZIEST POLITICAL ADS IN THE WORLD (ARE ALL POLISH).
Three terrifyingly rapey Polish men assault a busty young Polish woman before the heroic Lukasz Wabnic intervenes by beating the shit out of them...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:36 PM
( 3:16 PM ) The Rat
SOUL MATES, via xkcd by way of AB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:16 PM
Saturday, November 03, 2012
( 9:30 PM ) The Rat
LOVE-RAT DAD OF NINE CHILDREN TO EIGHT WOMEN JAILED FOR HEADBUTTING EX-GIRLFRIEND IN ROW OVER CHEESE TOASTIE, via WO. Does what it says on the tin.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:30 PM
( 11:10 AM ) The Rat
CHRISTINE SCHÄFER in four days!
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:10 AM
Friday, November 02, 2012
( 11:56 PM ) The Rat
THIS IS the first time in my life I've ever thought, "Ooh, blue nail polish!" Swatches from the OPI Skyfall 007 Collection.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:56 PM
( 10:59 AM ) The Rat
BABY WALRUS UPDATE! I have to get out to see this little guy at some point—way cuter than Knut ever was.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:59 AM
( 4:11 AM ) The Rat
Later, he explained to her about the trains. "You see, it's a thousand miles from one end of Texas to the other, and this train runs right across it and never stops but four times." He had the pride of an owner. He pointed out to her the dazzling fittings of the coach, and in truth her eyes opened wider as she contemplated the sea-green figured velvet, the shining brass, silver, and glass, the wood that gleamed as darkly brilliant as the surface of a pool of oil. At one end a bronze figure sturdily held a support for a separated chamber, and at convenient places on the ceiling were frescoes in olive and silver.
To the minds of the pair, their surroundings reflected the glory of their marriage that morning in San Antonio. This was the environment of their new estate, and the man's face in particular beamed with an elation that made him appear ridiculous to the negro porter. This individual at times surveyed them from afar with an amused and superior grin. On other occasions he bullied them with skill in ways that did not make it exactly plain to them that they were being bullied. He subtly used all the manners of the most unconquerable kind of snobbery. He oppressed them, but of this oppression they had small knowledge, and they speedily forgot that infrequently a number of travelers covered them with stares of derisive enjoyment. Historically there was supposed to be something infinitely humorous in their situation.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:11 AM
Thursday, November 01, 2012
( 7:58 PM ) The Rat
AN ECONOMIST WHO SAVES LIVES. Super cool—or maybe I've just never gotten over being a math major? I first heard of the Gale-Shapley algorithm about the time Al Roth started working on it (ca. 1995), but could never remember what it was called—think I learned about it from a random radio broadcast.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:58 PM
( 2:20 PM ) The Rat
THIS IS WHAT THE NATIONAL UNWATERING SWAT TEAM DOES.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:20 PM