Tuesday, January 31, 2012
( 10:12 PM ) The Rat
JUDGE RULES WHITE GIRL WILL BE TRIED AS BLACK ADULT, via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:12 PM
( 9:19 PM ) The Rat
TREBUCHET BOUQUET TOSS, from the wedding of that couple who recycled 400,000 cans to cover expenses.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:19 PM
( 9:17 PM ) The Rat
MUSIC TRAINING HAS BIOLOGICAL IMPACT ON AGING PROCESS, via JM.
Age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training, according to a new study from Northwestern University. The study is the first to provide biological evidence that lifelong musical experience has an impact on the aging process...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:17 PM
( 8:56 PM ) The Rat
"ULTIMATELY I DECIDED THAT I WAS STILL DREAMING. THIS WAS A MISTAKE." Via Best of Craigslist.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:56 PM
( 3:07 PM ) The Rat
MEET U.S.'S LONGEST-MARRIED COUPLE. Yikes.
Wilbur and Teresa Faiss were first wed in April, 1933...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:07 PM
( 11:22 AM ) The Rat
We begin, I'm sorry to say, with hair. I'm sorry to say it because the amount of maintenance involving hair is genuinely overwhelming. Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death.
—I Feel Bad About My Neck
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:22 AM
Monday, January 30, 2012
( 8:22 PM ) The Rat
Just before I'd moved to New York, two historic events had occurred: The birth control pill had been invented, and the first Julia Child cookbook was published. As a result, everyone was having sex, and when the sex was over, you cooked something.
—I Feel Bad About My Neck
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:22 PM
( 9:50 AM ) The Rat
My father by then was in the early stages of forgetting things, but one thing he never forgot was a phone number, and in his later years he made at least a hundred phone calls a day, all of them brief. He never said hello and he never said good-bye. He didn't give anyone a chance to say, "I'm busy" or "Lose my number" or "I don't have time to talk." He came right to the point and then, as my sister Delia wrote in her book Hanging Up, he hung up.
"I've just written my memoirs," he would say, "and I'm calling them Me."
"Great," I would say.
He would hang up.
"I just called Kate Hepburn and I told her the name of my memoirs," he would say. "She loved it."
"That's great, Dad."
He would hang up.
I always hoped that he would show some interest in my kids, Max and Jacob, but he didn't even remember their names. One day Jacob answered the phone and my father said: "Is this Abraham or the other one?" I consider it a testament to Jacob that at the age of seven, he knew it was funny. Still, it made me sad. You always think that a bolt of lightning is going to strike and your parents will magically change into the people you wish they were, or back into the people they used to be. But they're never going to. And even though you know they're never going to, you still hope they will.
—I Remember Nothing
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:50 AM
Sunday, January 29, 2012
( 8:42 PM ) The Rat
A novel in which the only white man of importance is a Dutch Trader, while all the women are Malays or half castes, does not promise much entertainment. It is well, therefore, to approach Almayer's Folly with no expectations. The figure of Almayer is pathetic, but almost lost in a mob of raging heathen engaged in battles for rum and wives on the banks of a river of Borneo. We have become inured to tiresome fiction supposed to be descriptive of outlandish places, but a feeling of resentment smoulders.
—Nation, 17 October 1895, reprinted in Conrad: The Critical Heritage
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:42 PM
( 8:24 PM ) The Rat
OHIO DAIRY FARM CODDLES COWS WITH... WATERBEDS? Via Wait Wait, of course.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:24 PM
( 2:34 PM ) The Rat
I wrote about all this in a novel called Heartburn, and it's a very funny book, but it wasn't funny at the time. I was insane with grief. My heart was broken. I was terrified about what was going to happen to my children and me. I felt gaslighted, and idiotic, and completely mortified. I wondered if I was going to become one of those divorced women who's forced to move with her children to Connecticut and is never heard from again.
I walked out dramatically, and I came back after promises were made. My husband entered into the usual cycle for this sort of thing—lies, lies, and more lies. I myself entered into surveillance, steaming open American Express bills, swearing friends to secrecy, finding out that the friends I'd sworn to secrecy couldn't keep a secret, and so forth. There was a mysterious receipt from James Robinson Antiques. I called James Robinson and pretended to be my husband's assistant and claimed I needed to know exactly what the receipt was for so that I could insure it. The receipt turned out to be for an antique porcelain box that said "I Love You Truly" on it. It was presumably not unlike the antique porcelain box my husband had bought for me a couple of years earlier that said "Forever and Ever." I mention all this so you will understand that this is part of the process: once you find out he's cheated on you, you have to keep finding it out, over and over and over again, until you've degraded yourself so completely that there's nothing left to do but walk out.
When my second marriage ended, I was angry and hurt and shocked.
Now I think, Of course.
I think, Who can possibly be faithful when they're young?
I think, Stuff happens.
I think, People are careless and there are almost never any consequences (except for the children, which I already said).
And I survived. My religion is Get Over It. I turned it into a rollicking story. I wrote a novel. I bought a house with the money from the novel.
People always say that once it goes away, you forget the pain. It's a cliche of childbirth: you forget the pain. I don't happen to agree. I remember the pain. What you really forget is love.
—I Remember Nothing
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:34 PM
( 2:12 PM ) The Rat
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE TEENAGE MIND? via IKM.
In contemporary life, the relationship between these two systems has changed dramatically. Puberty arrives earlier, and the motivational system kicks in earlier too.
At the same time, contemporary children have very little experience with the kinds of tasks that they'll have to perform as grown-ups. Children have increasingly little chance to practice even basic skills like cooking and caregiving. Contemporary adolescents and pre-adolescents often don't do much of anything except go to school. Even the paper route and the baby-sitting job have largely disappeared.
The experience of trying to achieve a real goal in real time in the real world is increasingly delayed, and the growth of the control system depends on just those experiences. The pediatrician and developmental psychologist Ronald Dahl at the University of California, Berkeley, has a good metaphor for the result: Today's adolescents develop an accelerator a long time before they can steer and brake...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:12 PM
( 9:42 AM ) The Rat
AN UNUSUALLY FUNNY NOT MY JOB, with Newbery laureate and ex-drug-smuggler Jack Gantos.
Gantos. So I decided not to go and write novels in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. And I could work all day and drink all night, but I didn't feel fulfilled until I ran into these really nice British guys who had a boat with 2,000 lbs. of hashish on it.
And they said we're looking for a nice kid. I said, "I'm nice." They said we'll give you $10,000 to sail it to New York. That's four years of private school back then. I said "sure." I didn't know how to sail. I ran aground in the harbor.
Sagal. Meaning the harbor leaving, or the harbor arriving?
Gantos. Both, actually... We got to New York. We docked it. And then we used to sell them. We would put big duffel bags full of hashish installed in shopping carts and go through the streets of New York City and deliver them to apartments.
Sagal. This sounds like the perfect crime, Jack. I can't imagine how you ever got caught.
Gantos. Yeah, well, you should have seen the surveillance photos.
Sagal. Wait a minute; you are pushing a stolen shopping cart down the streets of New York with a duffel bag filled with hashish? And I'm imagining you're running across another young woman doing the same thing. And you're like, "Hello, who are you?" And she's like "I'm Judy Blume; who are you?" And you're like "Maybe we'll meet again someday at the Newbery Awards"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:42 AM
( 1:28 AM ) The Rat
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty Swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?
—"The Wild Swans at Coole"; I kind of hate it when anything reminds me of this poem
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:28 AM
Saturday, January 28, 2012
( 10:26 AM ) The Rat
THE FRIEND WHO SENT THIS notes: "You'll come up with a better comment than I will..." but I actually can't really top that.
Researchers have found many females in the natural world possess the nifty ability to store sperm within their bodies for weeks and even years. In the past decade, scientists have discovered that female birds, reptiles, insects, and even whale sharks use this uncanny reproductive method. By keeping the sperm on hold, researchers say, a female can start pregnancy at her leisure...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:26 AM
Friday, January 27, 2012
( 10:00 PM ) The Rat
"Look, let's you and me talk," and after he'd helped her up from the chair, she led him out of the living room, struggling forward like some large vehicle plunging ahead on a broken axle.
"What is it?" he asked when they were in the front hallway.
"If your brother died to sleep with his wife, then he's already up with the angels, Nathan."
"But he was always the best boy, Esther. Son to end all sons, father to end all fathers—well, from the sound of it, the husband to end all husbands too."
"From the sound of it the shmuck to end all shmucks."
"But the kids, the folks—Dad would have a fit. How do I practice dentistry in Basel?" "Why would you have to live in Basel?" "Because she loves it, that's why—she says the only thing that made South Orange endurable was me. Switzerland is her home." "There are worse places than Switzerland." "That's easy for you to say." So I say no more, just remember her astride him in the black silk camisole, far far away, like the bedposts on his schoolboy bed.
"It's not so shmucky when you're impotent at thirty-nine," said Zuckerman, "and have reason to think it might never end."
"Being up at the cemetery isn't going to end either."
"He expected to live, Essie. Otherwise he wouldn't have done it."
"And all for the little wife."
"That's the story."
"I like better the ones you write."
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:00 PM
( 6:15 PM ) The Rat
SOMEONE MAILED 35 LBS. OF COCAINE TO THE UNITED NATIONS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:15 PM
( 12:35 PM ) The Rat
A HISTORY OF MOZART IN A DOZEN OBJECTS.
Professor Cliff Eisen, a leading expert on Mozart's life, looks at Mozart's eighteenth century world through objects that were close to him...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:35 PM
( 10:55 AM ) The Rat
FAMILY HISTORY OF PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS SHAPES INTELLECTUAL INTERESTS, STUDY SUGGESTS. This no doubt explains why I was at one point a dual major in literature and math...
Students interested in pursuing a major in the humanities or social sciences were twice as likely to report that a family member had a mood disorder or a problem with substance abuse. Students with an interest in science and technical majors, on the other hand, were three times more likely to report a sibling with an ASD, a range of developmental disorders that includes autism and Asperger syndrome.
Senior researcher Sam Wang, an associate professor in Princeton's Department of Molecular Biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, said that the survey—though not exhaustive nor based on direct clinical diagnoses—presents the idea that certain heritable psychiatric conditions are more closely linked to a person's intellectual interests than is currently supposed...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:55 AM
( 10:54 AM ) The Rat
THE PRICE OF YOUR SOUL: HOW THE BRAIN DECIDES WHETHER TO 'SELL OUT.'
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:54 AM
( 10:07 AM ) The Rat
"I OWNED THE LIQUOR STORE, WITH MY COUSIN, HAMID. BUT HE IS NOW IN GUANTANAMO BAY." Manolo on speed dating. My own experience of speed dating was not unlike this, just minus bachelor no. 20, and with maybe 16 copies of bachelor no. 1.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:07 AM
( 9:21 AM ) The Rat
NOT QUITE AS AWESOMELY but nonetheless still awesomely, it's also Lewis Carroll's birthday. Incidentally, why is a raven like a writing desk?
For the hat trick, I would love to find out that the inventor of macaroni and cheese was also born today...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:21 AM
( 1:06 AM ) The Rat
HAPPY 256TH BIRTHDAY, MOZART! Here's some party music.
The Mozarthaus is actually celebrating the 250th anniversary of Constanze's birth btw, later this year, which reminds me of the most misogynist (but not least true) thing Philip Roth ever wrote—a line, I think possibly in one of the Zuckerman books, to the effect that the thing every woman secretly wants is to be a famous man's widow.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:06 AM
Thursday, January 26, 2012
( 8:40 PM ) The Rat
"How about your tudong?" I asked, using the Malay word for a head scarf. "You live in this modern city, your husband is an accountant, your kids listen to iPods. Your scarf seems so traditional. Do you feel you're free to take if off and show your hair, if you want?"
"That is my own choice," she said, gently passing her hand over the scarf. "It's part of our religion, and it is the way of our leaders. I choose to wear it. My daughter's generation might have different ideas. But it makes me comfortable, so I wear it."
"And how about this custom of kissing your husband's hand?" I asked.
"This is a form of respecting each other," she said. "It's part of being a good Muslim. Doing it every day makes sure you're purged of guilt and grudges. I do it from the bottom of my heart, not that I have necessarily done anything wrong. It's just a show of respect. My husband reciprocates, but in his own way."
—Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:40 PM
( 7:10 PM ) The Rat
"WHEN PEOPLE GO BROKE, THEY GET SPIRITUAL." Gongs Strike a Chord with Car Dealers, Yogis and Gastroenterologists, again via WC. It's some time since I've enjoyed an article this much.
He was walking on the beach, in 2005, when the idea hit him: He would start an Internet business. It would be based someplace cheap and noncoastal. It would be called "Gongs Unlimited."
Lincoln was the someplace. In his warehouse at the edge of town one Tuesday, Mr. Borakove, 50 years old, sat at a computer, handling an order from a Florida alligator farm and a complaint from a Hmong shaman in California. "More people need gongs than you'd think," he said...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:10 PM
( 6:50 PM ) The Rat
"IN A NATIONAL SURVEY CONDUCTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES IN NOVEMBER, 56 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS SAID THEY COULDN'T THINK OF ANYTHING NEGATIVE ABOUT APPLE. FOURTEEN PERCENT SAID THE WORST THING ABOUT THE COMPANY WAS THAT ITS PRODUCTS WERE TOO EXPENSIVE. JUST 2 PERCENT MENTIONED OVERSEAS LABOR PRACTICES." In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad, via WC.
Some former Apple executives say there is an unresolved tension within the company: executives want to improve conditions within factories, but that dedication falters when it conflicts with crucial supplier relationships or the fast delivery of new products. Tuesday, Apple reported one of the most lucrative quarters of any corporation in history, with $13.06 billion in profits on $46.3 billion in sales. Its sales would have been even higher, executives said, if overseas factories had been able to produce more.
Executives at other corporations report similar internal pressures. This system may not be pretty, they argue, but a radical overhaul would slow innovation. Customers want amazing new electronics delivered every year.
"We've known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they're still going on," said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. "Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn't have another choice."
"If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years?" the executive asked...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:50 PM
( 12:10 PM ) The Rat
FRANCE PLANS NAPOLEONLAND. Well, it's about time. Via ET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:10 PM
( 11:32 AM ) The Rat
STRIP CLUB LAUNCHES 'ALIBI' AFTERSHAVE TO RECREATE SCENT OF THE OFFICE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:32 AM
( 11:30 AM ) The Rat
Simpson considers her faith her top attribute as an athlete and sees her fierceness and diligence as a natural extension of her unwavering pursuit of a virtuous life. As for her tenacity on race day, she draws on a passage that C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters. Courage, Lewis says, is not a virtue, but 'the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality'...
—RT profile of middle-distance gold medalist Jenny Simpson
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:30 AM
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
( 8:18 PM ) The Rat
"FOR SOME REASON, MY EX SOUNDTRACKED HIS LIFE LIKE IT WAS A '90S BAR MITZVAH." 15 Songs That Make Me Think of My Ex, by Nerve readers who were clearly not dating in the same pool I was.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:18 PM
( 6:04 PM ) The Rat
PHOTOS OF HOPE, via AK. And a few clarifications (which were apparently necessitated by a flame war that that set off?!) in his most recent column, here.
The hardest part of my previous life to pack up and put in storage was photos of my late daughter, Hope. There was a part of me that wanted to keep at least one of up somewhere in the first apartment Marathon Girl and I shared but, back then, I couldn’t look at the photos of her hooked up IVs, tubes, and monitors for more than a minute without my eyes filling with tears. Though Marathon Girl had no objection about hanging a photo or two of Hope in our new home, I just couldn't do it. I was moving on. I didn't want any reminders of events or people that might hold me back from starting a new life. The photos stayed in the box.
Even though it was a hard choice to make, I never thought twice about that decision or once regretted it. I charged ahead and fully embraced my new life. Aside from a picture of Hope at my parent’s home, there were no other visual reminders of her. And I was just fine with that.
Then back November, the family was driving home from a college football game and, much to my surprise, Marathon Girl brought up the subject...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:04 PM
( 10:48 AM ) The Rat
NEW YORK'S HOMELESS LACE UP TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES. Nice profile of Back on My Feet.
The idea for the nonprofit came from Ms. Mahlum's own running. Her route in Philadelphia took her past a homeless shelter where she developed a casual relationship with some of the residents. One day she decided running was a good metaphor for helping these people get out of their current situation. So she called the shelter and was soon running with the men.
Many graduates of the program go on to jobs in customer service, maintenance, truck driving, food service or construction. Others go back to school. The organization has relationships with major corporations to help people secure an interview. Marriott, for example, has hired some 20 graduates of Back on My Feet...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:48 AM
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
( 9:26 PM ) The Rat
THAT MISSILE SILO, CTD., via MR.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:26 PM
( 8:41 PM ) The Rat
NEW FACEBOOK APP 'IF I DIE' LETS USERS COMPOSE FINAL MESSAGE IN ADVANCE, via Wait Wait.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:41 PM
( 8:15 PM ) The Rat
WACKY! Via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:15 PM
( 8:00 PM ) The Rat
GROUP SETTINGS CAN DIMINISH EXPRESSIONS OF INTELLIGENCE, ESPECIALLY AMONG WOMEN, STUDY FINDS. This... would explain a lot.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:00 PM
( 5:47 PM ) The Rat
"I DO BELIEVE IN OPERA." Classic FM interviews the obscenely gifted Sir Thomas Allen.
I believe in what opera stands for as an art form... I think you can express yourself—though it is different from just speaking to someone—you express yourself musically, and there is a way of that conveying great, great emotion, and of course allied with the music that's putting it across... And I think when that's—when you get that chemistry right, it can be truly overwhelming.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:47 PM
( 10:44 AM ) The Rat
AMISH PORN, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:44 AM
( 10:21 AM ) The Rat
RUNNING MAY COUNTERACT RISKS OF ALZHEIMER'S GENES.
The scientists looked at 201 adults aged 45 to 88. Some had a family history of Alzheimer's, but at the time of the study all of them were cognitively normal—even the 56 volunteers who were found to carry the APOE e4 gene variant, according to Denise Head, an associate professor of psychology who led the study.
Brain scans were used to discover the level of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's, on the volunteers' brains. Those volunteers also provided detailed questionnaires regarding their exercise habits during the past decade.
Taken as a whole, exercise did little to mitigate the accumulation of plaque for the entire group. However, when researchers looked only at those who carried the e4 variant, the results were remarkable.
People who carried the gene variant and who reported walking or jogging for at least 30 minutes five times a week were found to have the same level of plaque buildup as people who were not carriers of e4. In other words, exercise seemed to counteract the increased risks posed by the e4 variant...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:21 AM
( 12:59 AM ) The Rat
HOW FALSE REPORTS OF JOE PATERNO'S DEATH WERE SPREAD AND DEBUNKED. Imagine being a family member while all this was happening...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:59 AM
Monday, January 23, 2012
( 8:16 PM ) The Rat
HOW THICK IS YOUR BUBBLE? via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:16 PM
( 7:13 PM ) The Rat
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN DURING ORGASM, via I forget who (though I have my suspicions...).
The first order of business was to fit me for a head mask, a sort of modern Count of Monte Cristo–type restraint system made of tight plastic mesh. White and blue, the contraption was part low-budget bondage porn prop and part clinical radiation treatment kit. Once we started the scan, it would be screwed directly to the scanner bed, meaning that I would be unable to get into or out of the fMRI tube without assistance. Ah. No pressure then. None at all.
A few hours later the party moved to the fMRI suite at the nearby University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Medical Center. I donned a hospital johnny and was pushed back into the scanner's tube, as ready as I would ever be to have an orgasm in an fMRI. The magnet started to spin around me. As promised, it was loud. It lasted the majority of my session inside the scanner, which was approximately an hour and a half. Even with ear protection, I could feel each click, clank, and whir all the way down my spine.
Just as I was starting to zone out, not into sleep exactly, but into something like it, the noises suddenly stopped. It was now time for the big show. Ready or not, I had to woman up and bring myself to orgasm. In a few minutes I would know if loud clanks and clicks, hospital johnnies, and a tight mesh head restraint could make the magic happen.
Hearing my cue, I took a deep breath and got to it. It may not have been romantic or sexy in there and, man, this mask thing was starting to get really uncomfortable, but I was going to orgasm no matter what. I powered through it, keeping my head as still as possible...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:13 PM
( 6:51 PM ) The Rat
SEGA LAUNCHES URINAL GAME CONSOLES IN JAPAN. Sort of the inevitable next step after this.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:51 PM
( 5:58 PM ) The Rat
BROTHERS REUNITED IN JAPAN AFTER 60 YEARS APART.
After they were separated, Hiroshi was adopted by Japanese parents and went on to become a tax accountant. Even at 84, his hands and face appear soft and tanned, concealing his age. Minoru's story was perhaps more dramatic. He was conscripted and fought with the Japanese Imperial Army at just age 13 and was sent to Siberia when Japan surrendered. He was later returned to his mother in California and even served in the U.S. Army...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:58 PM
( 3:43 PM ) The Rat
"TURN THE TWINKIE UPSIDE DOWN, SLICE IT LIKE A BUN, SLIDE A HOT DOG IN THERE, AND ACT AS IF YOU'VE DONE NOTHING WRONG."
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:43 PM
( 2:51 PM ) The Rat
'CITIZEN KANE' TO BE SHOWN AT HEARST CASTLE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:51 PM
( 2:46 PM ) The Rat
"MY PASSION FOR YOU IS LIKE A COCKROACH..." and other Valentine's Day cards from The Oatmeal.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:46 PM
( 1:36 PM ) The Rat
WHICH LIFE ARE YOU DESIGNING? via MR.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:36 PM
( 8:31 AM ) The Rat
WE ARE NOT THE DEAD: SOLDIERS' FACES BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER SERVING IN AFGHANISTAN, via ET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:31 AM
( 8:26 AM ) The Rat
YIKES, via Wait Wait.
We're all familiar with how wedding planners can navigate us around the tricky maze of getting married. But now a new industry has emerged, for helping men pop the question in the first place.
Proposal planners have discovered a demand for lavish scenarios, be it white doves, helicopter rides, a favourite musician—all with a photographer on hand to record the magic moment.
Of course such imagination and execution doesn't come cheap. Planners can charge thousands of dollars to plot proposals as meticulously as the wedding day itself.
Sarah Pease of New York-based Brilliant Event Planning says she only focused on weddings until she heard how one friend's proposal involved an engagement ring at the bottom of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:26 AM
Sunday, January 22, 2012
( 11:04 PM ) The Rat
P.O. BREAD BOX, via WO.
Bread formed the base of the traditional French diet for centuries (Kaplan cites the Encyclopédie méthodique, which claims that, even if there are other foods available, 'the bulk of the people believe they are dying of hunger if they do not have bread'), and the resulting 'breadways'—the local boulangerie, national wheat policy, and a way of life structured around the daily production, purchase, and consumption of fresh bread—have shaped the French landscape, literally as well as psychologically, economically, and politically.
The future of French bread is thus a matter of national concern, and the disappearance of more than 13,000 bakeries from towns and villages across the country over the last thirty years of the twentieth century signals, at least to the pessimistic, the rapid decline of a once glorious civilisation. Alarmed, the French government has legislated the composition of the baguette (in a 1993 ruling excluding preservatives), the definition of a bakery (bread must be made from scratch on the premises, no factory-frozen dough allowed), and even the timing of Parisian bakers' August holidays, to ensure citizens are not stranded without bread.
Nonetheless, French villages continue to lose their bakeries, and even their local 'depôt de pain,' or general store to which the nearest baker would deliver fresh bread daily. According to Damien Petit, a baker in the southwestern French town of Gaillac, it is a given that opening a bakery in a small village is not profitable and that even door-to-door delivery to rural customers would operate at a loss. Instead, to capitalise on consumer demand in the breadless villages around Gaillac, Petit has come up with a P.O. Box for bread—a dozen locked boxes, installed on the central square, which he fills with customer orders of bread, pastries, and even the local newspaper before 9:30 every morning, ready to be picked up at the key-holders' convenience...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:04 PM
( 10:27 PM ) The Rat
ARE PIRATE RANSOMS TAX-DEDUCTIBLE?
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:27 PM
( 8:28 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:28 PM
( 8:04 PM ) The Rat
Even children called in to tell us how unhappy they were about their sibling relationships.
A girl complained about her brother who 'always starts up with me, but I'm the one who gets punished.' Another girl spoke of a 'mean' older sister who was supposed to be baby-sitting for her but who pushed her out of the house and wouldn't let her back in until just before her parents got home.
A ten-year-old boy told us: 'Me and my brother are always having arguments with each other. We fight so much that if you locked us both in a car overnight and opened the door in the morning, we'd both be dead. Is your book just for grown-ups or can kids read it too?'
—Siblings Without Rivalry
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:04 PM
( 5:57 PM ) The Rat
ROBERT VICKREY'S THE LABYRINTH is far from the most beautiful, but for me was the most arresting, painting at the Whitney's "Real/Surreal" (on through Feb. 12).
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:57 PM
( 2:42 PM ) The Rat
MAN ARRESTED FOR STEALING SADDAM HUSSEIN'S BUTTOCK.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:42 PM
( 2:27 PM ) The Rat
"I DON'T ALWAYS CHANGE MY INTERNET SETTINGS, BUT WHEN I DO..." via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:27 PM
( 11:54 AM ) The Rat
HMM. Wondering if they make these for spouses...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:54 AM
( 10:39 AM ) The Rat
SNOW-SHOVEL DEATH AND HOW TO AVOID IT, via Slate. (Option 2: Move to Bali...)
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:39 AM
( 10:34 AM ) The Rat
TRAGIC TRUTH ABOUT CASTE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:34 AM
( 9:10 AM ) The Rat
"CAN I RUB YOUR FEET WHILE YOU TALK ABOUT THE BABY SHOWER? I FIND IT RELAXES ME" and other Porn for Pregnant Ladies.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:10 AM
Friday, January 20, 2012
( 10:15 PM ) The Rat
BEST LETTER EVER WRITTEN TO A LAWYER, via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:15 PM
( 9:40 PM ) The Rat
"You have to start all over, yes. If I sound like a second grader, that's fine with me. You're as sick as your secrets." It was not for the first time that he was hearing this pointless, shallow, idiotic maxim. "Wrong," he told her—as if it really mattered to him what she said or he said or anyone said, as if with their mouthings any of them approached even the borderline of truth—"you're as adventurous as your secrets, as abhorrent as your secrets, as lonely as your secrets, as alluring as your secrets, as courageous as your secrets, as vacuous as your secrets, as lost as your secrets; you are as human as—" "No. You're as unhuman, inhuman, and sick. It's the secrets that prevent you from sitting right with your internal being. You can't have secrets," she told Sabbath firmly, "and achieve internal peace." "Well, since manufacturing secrets is mankind's leading industry, that takes care of internal peace."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:40 PM
( 8:38 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:38 PM
( 1:51 PM ) The Rat
IS MERCURY IN RETROGRADE? via RH.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:51 PM
( 1:49 PM ) The Rat
PRETENTIOUS ACADEMIC QUOTE GENERATOR, via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:49 PM
( 12:53 PM ) The Rat
DO DOGS REALLY HAVE A 'GUILTY LOOK'?
The behaviours of 14 domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) were videotaped over a series of trials and analyzed for elements that correspond to an owner-identified 'guilty look.' Trials varied the opportunity for dogs to disobey an owner's command not to eat a desirable treat while the owner was out of the room, and varied the owners' knowledge of what their dogs did in their absence...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:53 PM
( 12:51 PM ) The Rat
"MY STRUGGLE TO COME UP WITH INGREDIENTS 20-26 MADE ME LAUGH—IF YOU'VE COMPLETED A MARATHON, I'M SURE YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT." Via RW Daily, the marathon cookie. The chia seeds are definitely mile 22.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:51 PM
( 8:00 AM ) The Rat
"YOU CAN IMAGINE HER DISAPPOINTMENT, THEN, WHEN SHE MISSED A STEP AND FELL WHILE BRINGING HER DOGS INSIDE HER HOUSE LAST MONTH. 'NOTHING EXCITING OR EXOTIC,' SHE SAID. 'NO CROCODILES OR SHARKS OR ANYTHING.'" Fun piece on streaking (not that kind—the other kind), via RW.
The association didn't create the 1-mile daily requirement until the early 2000s. DeBoer actually has run every day for 41-plus years. He just didn't meet the 1-mile threshold every day until June 7, 1971.
Since then, he's run more than 136,000 miles, including 48 races of marathon distance or longer.
"Starting a streak is almost unfathomable," Gathje said. "To say I'm going to run for the next 30 years..."
That's because life offers daily challenges and unexpected events. People get sick, get married, have kids, go on vacation, experience a death in the family, get stuck at the office, stranded at the airport, snowed in. Sometimes you just don't feel like going for a run.
The streakers still manage to run a mile every day.
"Everybody who runs every day has some stories to tell about how they kept their streaks alive," DeBoer said.
DeBoer, a clinical dietitian at the Mayo Clinic, has dealt with pneumonia, kidney stones and an avulsion fracture in his ankle during his streak. Doctors gave him a walking boot to help his foot recover, but he took it off to run and then slipped it back on when he was finished.
"Within a month, I was running 15 miles again," he said.
Gathje once suffered from pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining of his lungs. He asked his doctor if running would cause permanent damage.
"He kind of looked at me and said, 'You can't run. It will hurt like crazy,'" Gathje said. "I said, 'I know it hurts. I've figured that out.'"
Gathje's wife woke him early one morning after her water broke with the second of their four children. Her contractions hadn't started yet so...
"She said, 'You better run before we go because what if we're there all day?'" Gathje said...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:00 AM
Thursday, January 19, 2012
( 12:57 PM ) The Rat
CARIBBEAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION PORN WEATHER FORECAST GOES VIRAL.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:57 PM
( 10:53 AM ) The Rat
FOX APOLOGIZES TO JEWS FOR POLL ON WHO MURDERED JESUS, via IKM. From last month, but this just doesn't get old for me.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:53 AM
( 9:18 AM ) The Rat
DOGS ON TRAINS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:18 AM
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
( 8:32 PM ) The Rat
"WE RUNNERS THINK WHAT HE'S DOING IS AWESOME. REGULAR PEOPLE MUST THINK, 'IS HE CRAZY?'"
Jesper Olsen has run through sandstorms in the Sahara Desert. He has run through perpetual sunlight above the Arctic Circle. He has run through Egypt, pitched his tent in Istanbul, had tea with peasants in Sudan, and reveled in music flowing from tiny huts in the Andes Mountains.
He has even run through Siberia, though that's another story.
And now, all that remains between Olsen and his final steps of a 24,854-mile journey is a 3,284-mile stretch of U.S. 1 that began last week in Key West, continues this week in Miami-Dade and Broward and climaxes with the end of World Run II in Newfoundland, Canada...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:32 PM
( 5:53 PM ) The Rat
ASIA AWAITS LUNAR YEAR 'DRAGON BABY' BOOM. That's cuz dragon babies are awesome, yo.
The dragon year is regarded as the most auspicious in the almanac because it is the only mythical creature among the dozen animals that represent each year in the Chinese cosmic cycle.
Superstitious Chinese believe children born during the Year of the Dragon—the symbol of ancient emperors—will possess courage and wisdom and bring luck to the entire family.
Doctors estimate that couples gunning for a lucky baby will have to conceive by May 2 in order to stand a chance of giving birth by the tail end of the dragon year, which lasts until February 9, 2013.
In China, state news agency Xinhua said in December that the country was expecting a five percent rise in births. Historic data show spikes of more than 10 percent in Singapore's total births during the most recent dragon years, 2000 and 1988...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:53 PM
( 10:31 AM ) The Rat
OPERA AND BALLET FACTS from ROH.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:31 AM
( 1:20 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:20 AM
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
( 6:24 PM ) The Rat
The sonata's middle movement, the Andante, was intended to be a musical portrait of a pupil he taught while seeking employment in Mannheim. The daughter of a famous court musician, one Rosa Cannabich. The description he sent his father in a letter makes Rosa seem like an odd choice of subject, particularly for music. Mozart called her 'serious, predictable, and a bit boring'...
—The Concert, Sept. 1, 2011
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:24 PM
( 6:13 PM ) The Rat
"WHILE RECUPERATING IN A STRAITJACKET HE CAME ACROSS SOME MAGAZINE STORIES ABOUT TRIATHLETES. HE TURNED THE PAGES WITH HIS TOES AND DECIDED THAT IF KILLING HIMSELF HADN'T WORKED OUT, HE'D—WELL—HE'D BECOME A TRIATHLETE." Outrunning addiction, via ET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:13 PM
( 2:28 PM ) The Rat
LIVE STREAM OF THE ENCHANTED ISLAND TONIGHT!
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:28 PM
( 11:30 AM ) The Rat
COMPETITION CAN BE KIND, via MR. And see the comment by "pokey amanda" for another reason to love Desi Davila.
Like many fans watching the Olympic Marathon Trials, I got emotional. Not just because the gutsy performances from our favorite elite runners were a thing of beauty, but because of the way these top athletes treated each other...
Also reminds me of some comments WHC made to me at the time of this story.
"We've been seeing things like this for a very long time," said Thomas Sjogren, a Swedish mountaineer who helps run ExplorersWeb, a Web site widely read by climbers. "The real high-altitude mountaineers, the top people in the world who are doing new peaks and going to mountains you don't know much about, most of these people have become completely disgusted by Everest."
The top mountaineers "often help each other," said Sjogren, who has made many Himalayan climbs. "If you know him or you don't know him, it doesn't matter: you try to help him until he's confirmed dead."
But many of today's Everest climbers are on commercial expeditions, some paying tens of thousands of dollars to guides who are under fierce pressure to get their clients to the summit.
The situation grows more complicated when many climbers don't have the skills to help someone like Sharp, and perhaps shouldn't be on the mountain at all.
"The sheer pressure of numbers and accessibility to these mountains [have] changed the kind of people who go," said Lydia Bradey, a 44-year-old New Zealander who in 1988 became the first woman to summit Everest without supplemental oxygen.
As a result, Bradey said in a telephone interview, Everest climbers may be forced to decide whether to jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime investment to help a dying person.
"If you're going to go to Everest... I think you have to accept responsibility that you may end up doing something that's not very ethically nice," she said. "You have to realize that you're in a different world"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:30 AM
( 11:18 AM ) The Rat
THE INCREDIBLE UNAGING TRIATHLETE, via IKM. So the next time you run into a 70-year-old triathlete, stay the heck out of his way!
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:18 AM
Monday, January 16, 2012
( 10:58 PM ) The Rat
"HATE TO STATE THE OBVIOUS... BUT—" via Passive-Aggressive Notes.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:58 PM
( 7:30 PM ) The Rat
"NOW THAT YOU HAVE TO PAY MY BILLS, BOB, YOU'LL BE GLAD THAT I KNOW THESE THINGS." The Paris Review on A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:30 PM
( 1:12 PM ) The Rat
SCOTT DOUGLAS retracts his predictions about the men's Trials.
I was liveblogging the women's race, which started 15 minutes after the men's, so I really got to see only the first couple miles of the men's. But that was enough for me to realize that Hall had called it correctly. When he launched into 4:50 pace basically from his third step, you knew he would run that pace as long as he could. As that's 2:06 marathon pace, odds were that he would slow in the second half, but Hall seems immune to hitting the Wall no matter how aggressively he starts, so right away a sub-2:10 was on tap. I turned to Amby Burfoot, who was liveblogging the men's race, and said, "This is [alliterative obscenity] fantastic"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:12 PM
( 2:30 AM ) The Rat
WORLD SUBWAYS AT SCALE, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:30 AM
( 2:29 AM ) The Rat
BACKSTAGE PICS from The Enchanted Island.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:29 AM
Sunday, January 15, 2012
( 7:04 PM ) The Rat
"...OR I WILL LICK EVERYTHING," via Passive-Aggressive Notes.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:04 PM
( 6:52 PM ) The Rat
AN IMAGINARY BRITISH HOUSEGUEST WILL SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE, SAYS OPRAH. Via Wait Wait, of course—it takes professionals to unearth stuff like this!
This kind of ridiculous advice is hard for me to wrap my tattered brain around, because I come from a Latin family who don't consider it a fight unless it makes at least one innocent person uncomfortable. Some of my cousins will fight inside of the house and then chase each other to the front yard where they'll fight again in front of all the neighbors. Why don't those crazies stay inside, you ask? Because they need an audience for their theater! And they need someone to turn to and ask, 'Did you hear this bitch, right? You're on my side, right? RIGHT?!' They need votes, basically.
But I'm still going to put Oprah's bizarre advice to the test the next time I should myself in a fight with a boyfriend. I do need to know if this Rupert dude is hot or not, because that makes a difference. I'd like the option of walking out on the whisper fight to go and loudly fuck Rupert in the next room.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:52 PM
( 2:54 PM ) The Rat
EMOTIONAL FLASHBACK MANAGEMENT IN THE TREATMENT OF COMPLEX PTSD. A must-read (if you or a loved one is, um, prone to this kind of thing) on "amygdala hijackings."
Early on in working with this model, I was surprised that a number of clients with moderate and sometimes minimal sexual or physical childhood abuse were plagued by emotional flashbacks. Over time, however, I realized that these individuals had suffered extreme emotional neglect: the kind of neglect where no caretaker was ever available for support, comfort or protection. No one liked them, welcomed them, or listened to them. No one had empathy for them, showed them warmth, or invited closeness. No one cared about what they thought, felt, did, wanted, or dreamed of. Such trauma victims learned early in life that no matter how hurt, alienated, or terrified they were, turning to a parent would actually exacerbate their experience of rejection.
The child who is abandoned in this way experiences the world as a terrifying place. I think about how humans were hunter-gatherers for most of our time on this planet—the child's survival and safety from predators during the first six years of life during these times depended on being in very close proximity to an adult. Children are wired to feel scared when left alone, and to cry and protest to alert their caretakers when they are. But when the caretakers turn their backs on such cries for help, the child is left to cope with a nightmarish inner world—the stuff of which emotional flashbacks are made.
Because most emotional flashbacks do not have a visual or memory component to them, the triggered individual rarely realizes that she is re-experiencing a traumatic time from childhood. Psychoeducation is therefore a fundamental first step in the process of helping clients understand and manage their flashbacks. Most of my clients experience noticeable relief when I explain Complex PTSD to them. The diagnosis resonates deeply with their intuitive understanding of their suffering. When they recognize that their sense of overwhelm initially arose as a normal instinctual response to their traumatic circumstances, they begin to shed the belief that they are crazy, hopelessly oversensitive, and/or incurably defective.
Without help in the midst of an emotional flashback, clients typically find no recourse but their own particular array of primitive, self-injuring defenses to their unmanageable feelings. These dysfunctional responses generally manifest in four ways:  fighting or over-asserting oneself in narcissistic ways such as misusing power or promoting excessive self-interest;  fleeing obsessive-compulsively into activities such as work addiction, sex and love addiction, or substance abuse ("uppers");  freezing in numbing, dissociative ways such as sleeping excessively, over-fantasizing, or tuning out with TV or medications ("downers");  fawning codependently in self-abandoning ways such as putting up with narcissistic bosses or abusive partners...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:54 PM
( 8:35 AM ) The Rat
"THERE'S NEVER A MOMENT WHERE I DON'T KNOW WHETHER SOMEONE IS PANICKING, OR CALM—HE GIVES YOU EVERYTHING. IT'S LIKE STAGE DIRECTIONS ENCODED INTO THE MUSIC." Brief discussion with David McVicar and others on staging Figaro.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:35 AM
Saturday, January 14, 2012
( 7:32 PM ) The Rat
In my nonrunning days, I gave the cold shoulder to anyone who ran almost any distance. My long-standing belief was that runners were essentially compensating for inner demons or bad behavior. I'd look at the guy on the road and think, Of course he's running: He's getting old, his hair is falling out, and his wife's coworkers are extremely attractive. He runs because his children don't admire him, his own mother has stopped calling, he doesn't like what he's become, and he's trying to run his way out of it—actually not bad reasons to start running, come to think of it. But if compensation was the only reason people ran, everyone over 21 would do it. The person who doesn't have at least one thing in life they could compensate for with running isn't looking hard enough.
—Marc Parent, "My Sweaty Little Secret," RW, February 2012
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:32 PM
( 1:54 PM ) The Rat
CUTE 5K CONCEPT.
For those of you who are new to the race, the object, in addition to having a great time running a 5K, is to beat Beethoven's 5th Symphony which is approximately 32 minutes long. We start the symphony at the beginning of the race and if you finish before our Beethoven, you get a nifty little pin and bragging rights...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:54 PM
( 12:26 PM ) The Rat
TODAY'S TOLL BROS. BROADCAST is of an archival recording of Norma (April 4, 1970), with Sutherland in the title role and Richard Bonynge in the pit. Details here! And here's a more or less random interview with them.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:26 PM
( 12:14 PM ) The Rat
MILE-BY-MILE PICS of the Trials.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:14 PM
( 12:04 PM ) The Rat
LAST THING I'LL QUOTE from RW's live-blogging of the Trials:
Reader. Scott, what has been the highlight of the trials for you?
Scott Douglas. This morning I was walking to the press center here in the convention center and Halls Ryan and Sara were warming up in the hall. They got to one part and a hired security person told them it was restricted to 'special people.' They turned around and jogged the other way.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:04 PM
( 11:08 AM ) The Rat
Women getting lapped are clapping and cheering for Meb as he passes them. [The Trials are being run on a loop course, with the men starting 15 mins. ahead of the women.]
Meb passes a pack of 20 women. They cheer for him, and he for them. It's a nice scene. Someone says he's 'flirting.'
—Amby Burfoot posting at 10:06 and 10:08 CST
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:08 AM
( 10:21 AM ) The Rat
Janet Cherobon-Bawcom is on the verge of getting dropped from pack. While I don't wish her ill, I wouldn't mind being free of typing that last name.
—Runner's World's Olympic trials live coverage
My favorite tweets thus far, all from readers: "Cristina" ("Wow... this is just like the olden days when you had to listen on the radio."), "Melissa" when Meb pushed to the front between miles 7-8 ("Massive carnage love it"), and Mike ("Amby, I only have 30 minutes left on my battery and not a plug in site. Do you think you can get them to speed it up a bit?").
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:21 AM
( 10:19 AM ) The Rat
London won the bid to host the 1908 Olympics and, just as Athens had, they hosted the marathon as one of the final events, to attract natural middle-distance runners to a race that few had run, let alone trained specifically for. Spectators, journalists, and athletes all understood that it was the greatest physical and mental challenge in the Olympic schedule. The day the starting gun went off, the Times wrote: 'Besides the marathon all other events, which momentarily interest, pale into insignificance.' Winning the 100 meter or even 1,500 meter race was primarily about bloodlines—having the good fortune to be built faster than the rest. The marathon was a psychological test and even in its short history it had not been won by the fastest, but by the smartest runner...
—The Lure of Long Distances
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:19 AM
( 9:51 AM ) The Rat
A GREAT IDEA for decorating your small child's room, especially if you sneak in and install it in the middle of the night while he's sleeping.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:51 AM
( 12:14 AM ) The Rat
When I leave the factory, as I can feel myself being rewritten from the inside out, the way I see everything is starting to change. I keep thinking, how often do we wish more things were handmade? Oh, we talk about that all the time, don't we? 'I wish it was like the old days. I wish things had that human touch.' But that's not true. There are more handmade things now than there have ever been in the history of the world.
Everything is handmade. I know. I have been there. I have seen the workers laying in parts thinner than human hair. One after another after another. Everything is handmade...
—"Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," the complete transcript to which is finally online
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:14 AM
Friday, January 13, 2012
( 7:52 PM ) The Rat
INCREMENTAL PROGRESS FROM APPLE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:52 PM
( 1:09 PM ) The Rat
"HIS CUSTOMERS WOULD BE THE CLASSICAL MUSICIAN, THE JOURNALIST, THE TEACHER, THE YOUNG DOCTOR. IN A DIFFERENT ARTICLE COULOMBE READ THAT THE MORE EDUCATION A PERSON HAD, THE MORE THEY DRANK, SO HE STOCKED 70 BOURBONS AND ABOUT 100 SCOTCHES..." Terrific Los Angeles story about the at-times-surprising origins of Trader Joe's.
Coulombe continued to tinker with Trader Joe's. In 1972, he devised what he calls 'Trader Joe's, Phase III.' At that time the trend in grocery merchandising was bigger. Throughout the '70s, supermarkets were headed toward becoming the 40,000-square-foot behemoths of today that can carry 50,000 items. Yet such steroidal markets would encounter drawbacks to their muscled dimensions. Eighty percent of supermarket shopping time is spent moving from product to product. Half of all store trips are for five purchases or less, and customers on such trips aren't searching for sale items—price does not alter the behavior of someone looking for only a handful of things. What did this mean for supermarkets? As their floor plans expanded, their sales volume per square foot shrank. They were forced to invent new schemes to compensate for lost profits, charging fees to manufacturers for store placement and 'floating' cash (earning bank interest on the daily take).
So once again Coulombe thought small. Instead of 50,000 shelved items, he would drop his number from 6,000 to 1,000. If supermarkets sold 20 kinds of cat food and 40 detergents, he would sell one of each. In doing so, Coulombe maximized the velocity of dollars entering his registers. Shoppers moving 5 feet between purchases instead of 50 pass through a store more quickly, leaving more cash behind. The average supermarket brings in $10 million to $30 million annually in sales. A Trader Joe's one-fifth the size of a supermarket can make $1 million in a week's time. Square foot for square foot, that Trader Joe's outperforms an average Walmart, which would have to do $30 million in business to match it during the same period...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:09 PM
( 12:30 PM ) The Rat
EXERCISE HORMONE MAY FIGHT OBESITY AND DIABETES. Hmm.
Unlike most substances birthed in the muscles, irisin does not completely remain there, the scientists noted. It apparently enters the bloodstream and surfs to fat cells, where, by providing various biochemical signals or messages, it begins turning regular fat—especially deep, visceral fat clustered around organs—into brown fat.
If that last statement didn’t make your eyebrows rise in surprise, you are not an adipocyte biologist. For them, the finding that irisin might contribute to the browning of visceral body fat is 'an extraordinary discovery,' says Sven Enerback, a professor of metabolic research at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, who has written extensively about the biology of fat and obesity.
Brown fat, as many of us have heard, is physiologically desirable. While white fat cells are essentially inert storehouses for fat, brown fat cells are metabolically active. They use oxygen and require energy. They burn calories.
Until recently, it was thought that human adults did not have brown fat, that we lost our stores after babyhood. But beginning in 2009, a number of studies showed that grown-ups do harbor brown fat. Some people just have more than others.
And it may be that irisin, and exercise, partially determine how much brown fat each of us contains, the new study suggests.
But while irisin appears to have a critical impact on metabolism, it does not appear to play any discernible role in the effects that exercise has on the heart or the brain. And various issues remain unresolved. Why, for instance, if exercise increases levels of irisin and irisin increases the body’s stores of energy-burning brown fat, does exercise so rarely produce significant weight loss? The mice injected with irisin lost little weight. On the other hand, Dr. Spiegelman notes, they resisted weight gain, even on a high-fat diet, and their blood sugar levels remained stable. So it would seem that exercise, through the actions of irisin, can render you healthy, if not svelte...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:30 PM
( 11:48 AM ) The Rat
YIKES. Running Times on Joanna Zeiger, who will be toeing the line in Houston this weekend for her sixth Olympic trials in three different sports.
Zeiger isn't a full-time athlete. She holds a Ph.D. in genetic epidemiology and works as a part-time as research associate at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado. Her focus is drug abuse in adolescents, as well as areas of physical activity and health...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:48 AM
Thursday, January 12, 2012
( 10:36 PM ) The Rat
"FOR 5,000 YEARS," SAYS COLE, "WE BUILT CITIES AROUND PEOPLE, AND THEY WORKED WELL. FOR 50 YEARS WE'VE BUILT THEM AROUND THE PARKING LOT." Disturbingly fascinating Los Angeles Magazine article (via A&LD) about parking and the life of cities.
Parking spaces can be amazingly expensive to fabricate. In aboveground structures they cost as much as $40,000 apiece. Belowground, all that excavating and shoring may run a developer $140,000 per space. The debt on Disney Hall's garage would have to be paid off for decades to come, and as it turned out, a minimum schedule of 128 annual shows would be enough to cover the bill. The figure "128" was even written into the L.A. Philharmonic's lease. In 2003, Esa-Pekka Salonen opened Frank Gehry's masterpiece to a packed house with Mahler's Resurrection, and in the years since, concertgoers—who lay out $9 to enter the garage—have steadily funded performances that exist to cover the true price of their parking.
Donald Shoup, a Yale-trained economist and former chair of UCLA's Department of Urban Planning, loves telling this story. Gehry's auditorium may be wonderful, says Shoup, but it is also a fine example of poor planning. The garage—designed to serve the public good—instantly made the Metro immaterial to concertgoers, placed several thousand cars on the road every week, and pumped a few hundred tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. Like any parking lot entrance, the one on Bunker Hill sucked air from street life. "L.A.," says Shoup, "required 50 times more parking under Disney Hall than San Francisco would allow at their own hall." Downtown already had an oversupply of garages and lots where music fans could leave their cars. "After a concert in San Francisco," says Shoup, "the streets are full of people walking to their cars, eating in restaurants, stopping into bars and bookstores. In L.A.? The bar next door at Patina is a ghost town." Receipts that should have gone to the philharmonic's endowment instead are funding enough parking for nearly every ticket holder to park a car every night downtown...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:36 PM
( 6:53 PM ) The Rat
NEWLY ENGAGED COUPLE FOUND BY INTERAGENCY SEARCHERS, via Outside.
Russell Vandameer and Karen Renshaw, both of Oklahoma, left to go hiking with their three dogs, Stitch, Suzy, and Griswald. After finding a suitably beautiful spot within the dunes, Vandemeer proposed to Renshaw. The newly engaged couple than attempted to hike back to their car, but were unable to find their way back. Rather than continue to wander becoming more lost, they contacted a cousin via cell phone and requested that help be sent. An interagency effort was begun that involved the NPS, the Alamo West Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Army...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:53 PM
( 5:23 PM ) The Rat
"WHAT FITS YOUR BUSY SCHEDULE BETTER?" P.S. It doesn't actually have to be an hour.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:23 PM
( 3:33 PM ) The Rat
"FINALLY, HERE IT IS, THE CURSED APPENDAGE!" Josh Clark on Leonid Rogosov, the Soviet scientist who performed an appendectomy on himself in 1961.
Rogosov was a member of a Soviet expedition to Antarctica, stuck at the base during winter. Being the only surgeon on the 12-person team, he understandably faced a conundrum when he realized that he was displaying symptoms of appendicitis. Since no one else could perform the surgery, he faced a choice: Allow himself to die of a burst appendix or perform the surgery on himself. 'I can't just fold my arms and give up,' Rogosov wrote in his journal.
So he got himself a mirror, surgical tools and steeled himself to perform the surgery. Thinking this through a little further we arrive at the obvious conclusion that Rogosov vivisected himself without the aid of anesthetic, as he had to remain lucid. Even further thought reveals that he performed this surgery on himself, without anesthetic, using a mirror—which means he performed the surgery while seeing everything backwards...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:33 PM
( 11:22 AM ) The Rat
CHASING THE AMERICAN DREAM. Interesting Running Times piece on the requirements and restrictions put on immigrant runners hoping to represent the U.S. at international events.
Who can forget the image of Lopez Lomong carrying the American flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics? A former Lost Boy of Sudan adopted into an American family, Lomong ran the 1500m for the U.S. in Beijing, alongside Bernard Lagat, who once ran for Kenya, and Mexican-born Leo Manzano. Three naturalized Americans made up our metric mile squad, and Lomong, in particular, became the Olympic symbol of our great immigrant nation.
But that memorable moment in Olympic history might never have happened if Lomong had fallen under the jurisdiction of current IAAF policy. A new rule, the one that Chirlee ran up against, went into effect in March 2010, requiring athletes who acquire new citizenship to wait two years before they can represent their country in international competition. Lomong ran in the Olympics only one year after becoming an American citizen. Under the current rule, he would have been ineligible to represent the U.S. in Beijing, even if fully able to wave the American flag as a citizen...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:22 AM
( 11:08 AM ) The Rat
STRETCHING IT: IS YOGA DANGEROUS? Response to that NYTM thing that caused such a pointless stir last week.
By pointless what I mean is—did anyone really not know about the risks of yoga before? Of course every kind of physical activity comes with risks—though it's generally better to wear out than to rust out—and since yoga is largely about manipulating the spine, it comes with exactly the sorts of risks you'd imagine, especially if practiced recklessly or under poorly trained instructors. Self magazine, which isn't even yoga-specific, reported on yoga injuries way back in 2008. Great cutting-edge work there, NYT!
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:08 AM
( 11:07 AM ) The Rat
STUDY: ACTIVITY WON'T PROTECT FROM EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE SITTING. Yeah, but what about lying down...?
Researchers found that those who sat for nine or more hours per day had a 19% higher risk of all-cause mortality than those who sat for three or fewer hours. Watching seven or more hours of TV per day carried a 61% higher risk of mortality than watching an hour or less. (The heavier TV watchers also had an 85% higher risk of cardiovascular mortality and a 22% higher risk of cancer-related mortality.)
Even among the adults who were the most active (with seven or more hours of MVPA per week), watching TV for 7+ hours per day was associated with a 47% higher risk of all-cause mortality and a 50% higher risk of cardiovascular mortality than those who watched less than an hour per day...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:07 AM
( 2:45 AM ) The Rat
PICTURES OF DAVID BOWIE DOING NORMAL STUFF, via AC. So great.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:45 AM
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
( 6:33 PM ) The Rat
SAVE THE DING DONGS! Stuff You Should Know's episode on Twinkies remains my all-time favorite of their (now nearly 400) shows.
How could this have happened to our favorite lunchtime snack maker? With all the unbelievable joy they have brought us over the years—first as tiny obese children and then as much larger obese adults—how could America let this betrayal happen?
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:33 PM
( 4:08 PM ) The Rat
RUNNING BOOKS, via AbeBooks. Once a Runner is overrated btw. Yeah, I said it.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:08 PM
( 3:30 PM ) The Rat
25 RULES FOR MOTHERS OF SONS, via TG. Lots of good ones here, but my favorite is no. 20. (Which is not to say that no. 22, for instance, isn't also absolutely crucial.)
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:30 PM
( 2:29 PM ) The Rat
FOXCONN IS STILL A HARD PLACE TO WORK.
As American consumers ogle over shiny new gadgets at this week's Consumer Electronics Show, the workers that make those products are threatening mass suicide for the horrid working conditions at Foxconn. 300 employees who worked making the Xbox 360 stood at the edge of the factory building, about to jump, after their boss reneged on promised compensation, reports English news site Want China Times. It's not like this is the first time working conditions at Foxconn have made news outside China. But iPhone and Xbox sales surely haven't lagged in the wake of those revelations and neither Apple nor Microsoft has done much of anything to fix things...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:29 PM
( 12:12 PM ) The Rat
HOW I CONQUERED MY BANKING JOB, via IKM. Definitely looking into the new book from which this is excerpted.
But when I turned on the TV, a documentary about Hannibal was playing. There it was again: that familiar story of the man, the elephants, the Alps and the battles, the maps of his march from Spain through France and into Italy, the vector charts of his maneuvers, the reenacted scenes with Roman legionaries. But this time, I found the story unexpectedly perplexing. I suddenly had lots of questions, and they were personal. How come I, and most people, knew so much about the two years of Hannibal’s life that made him famous—the span between his Alpine crossing and his great victory at Cannae—and so little about the next thirty-three years of his life? What exactly happened to Hannibal during that time?
Why had his triumphs turned to disaster? And could the same thing happen to me?
The fundamental tragedy of Hannibal's story usually forms only a dramatic—in the theatrical sense of Greek tragedy—backdrop to heighten the romance. The tragedy of Carthage, its demise as a civilization, is well known. When Truman, the boy who loved Hannibal, became president and visited bombed-out Berlin after World War II, he said, "I never saw such destruction" and "I thought of Carthage." But the bitter irony, the fundamental enigma, of how Hannibal's triumphs had led to that tragedy did not occupy Truman at that moment. It was suddenly occupying me, however, as I sat on my cheap IKEA chair, trying to make sense of my life. All people, beginning in their twenties and continuing until the end of their lives, tell themselves stories about their own journeys to make sense of life. This is one of the biggest ideas in psychology: that identity is story. The psychologists call these stories personal myths, life scripts, or self-narratives. The stories are not logical and linear strings of autobiographical facts. Rather, they’re selective memories with magnified turning points—a trauma, for example—that give shape to a life so that the young adult can view himself as part of the complex, confusing, and demanding adult society around him. An adolescent does not yet know who he is. But a young adult—having to choose a career, sexual partners, political affiliations, and so much more—needs to believe that he knows who he is. So he begins making up a story line, with himself as the hero. And that's what I was doing, too.
That Hannibal should come to serve as one archetype for the hero in my own personal myth might seem ridiculous, but I didn't see it that way. Hannibal lived an epic life, full of soaring success and crushing failure, whereas I was living a small and ordinary life, full of little successes and trifling failures, none of them of any consequence to anybody but me. But it was the trajectory of Hannibal's story that fascinated me and that I chose to see as a warning that deliberately presented itself in this early "chapter" of my own life story. Hannibal was warning me to examine the successes that I had achieved up until then and might achieve next, and to ask whether they were leading me, as his had led him, down a treacherous path toward failure...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:12 PM
( 12:07 PM ) The Rat
BUILD YOUR OWN PRESIDENT, via AM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:07 PM
( 12:06 PM ) The Rat
NOT JUST ANY SALE... via JWB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:06 PM
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
( 6:42 PM ) The Rat
"TWO YEARS IN, AND QUITTING WILL BE LIKE GNAWING YOUR OWN LEG OFF. PAST THAT, AND YOU'RE TALKING THERAPY AND LIFE-LONG BITTERNESS." Should I go to grad school? (linked from here).
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:42 PM
( 5:28 PM ) The Rat
IS GOD GOING TO HOOK ME UP ONLINE?
Has God taken an interest in the computer dating business? Does he (or she) have a username and password?
You might think so, if you've seen TV ads for the subscription-based dating website christianmingle.com.
The announcer says confidently: "Find God's match for you."
Really? Is God going to hook you up online? Cue the blogospheric debate.
"That's awfully bold to presume they already know who God wants you to marry," tweeted @Jessie_luvJesus recently.
"...SMH [shaking my head] these folks should be ashamed," wrote @EWebb424.
The tagline has been creating a "misconception" that God works exclusively through Christian Mingle, says spokeswoman Ashley Reccord...
This, meanwhile—esp. in conjunction with the touchy-feely, entitled mentality of the pro-soul-mate people quoted in the article—makes me wish I were Muslim:
The Islamic faith, meanwhile, rejects the soul mate concept. "The words 'soul mate,' that you are meant to be with this person forever, there is no concept like this in Islam," says Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America.
Infinite knowledge allows God to know which partners end up together, but it's up to people to sustain their marriages and stay together, Magid says, because "the concept of a soul mate in Islam would put the fault of divorce on God"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:28 PM
( 3:14 PM ) The Rat
"THEY SAID I COULDN'T DO IT..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:14 PM
( 1:08 PM ) The Rat
HOW THE COMMUNION WAFER ARRIVED IN THE CAPITALIST MARKETPLACE, via A&LD.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:08 PM
( 10:24 AM ) The Rat
"DOVE RESEARCH... FOUND THAT ONLY 4% OF WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD THINK THEY'RE BEAUTIFUL." So if you bring to mind the top 4%-most-annoying women you know, it's probably them?
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:24 AM
( 9:48 AM ) The Rat
DD. In 2008—was probably the first time I actually believed I could make the Olympic team... the way that training was going and the way I was feeling in the training and adjusting to everything. That was—somewhere in that time frame it, you know, kind of hit me, like, This could really happen; this is for real.
Interviewer. Do you think people believed that you could be this good?
DD. No, I don't think people thought I could get to this level.
Interviewer. Who did believe?
DD. I did...
—"Underdog No More," an interview with Desiree Davila
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:48 AM
( 9:43 AM ) The Rat
"ADMITTEDLY, IT'S A DIFFICULT THING TO UNDERSTAND: PEOPLE SHOUTING, ALBEIT IN A VERY MUSICAL WAY, DOES SEEM AN ODD WAY TO EXPRESS ONESELF." Thomas Allen talks to the Guardian.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:43 AM
( 9:29 AM ) The Rat
Gheorghiu loves being famous, as she readily confirms. But she says there is a big downside to having the kind of career she has. You are 'everywhere and nowhere,' and are 'alone almost all of the time.' There is always a post-performance tristesse, 'a little emptiness.' You go back to your hotel room, talk on the phone, click through YouTube. The roar and adulation of the crowd are gone. And 'I want it back!" says Gheorghiu. 'All that love, I want it back! It's never enough for me.'
—JN's recent interview with Angela Gheorghiu
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:29 AM
Monday, January 09, 2012
( 7:59 PM ) The Rat
"SPEAKING OF EYE MAKEUP—'ARE YOUR EYELASHES WITH GLITTER HEAVY?'" Charming video of Joyce DiDonato and Luca Pisaroni answering questions sent in by Ms. Hill's elementary-school students in Salt Lake City, in preparation for their live-in-HD screening of The Enchanted Island later this month.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:59 PM
( 6:47 PM ) The Rat
PRISONPENPALS.COM has information on donating books and magazines to prison libraries.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:47 PM
( 11:29 AM ) The Rat
"I KNOW I'M NOT ALONE WITH THIS KIND OF ACCUMULATION OF IDIOTIC DETRITUS. MY PROBLEM IS THAT IN ONE'S NEVER-ENDING BATTLE WITH THIS PERPETUAL ACCUMULATION OF LIFE'S SILT, I AM FRANCE, AND KIPPLE IS GERMANY..." Hysterical essay by Jonathan Ames, which I'm finding particularly apt in this post-Christmas, just-acquired-lots-of-new-stuff season.
As a malformed Grey Gardens sort of bachelor, I have only one fork, but, unfortunately, this one fork has gone missing in the strange coral reef that passes for my apartment. And I describe my apartment as a coral reef, as opposed to the ever-thickening nest of a hoarder, because I don't suffer from hoarding, per se. I am at the mercy of another phenomenon—a kind of metaphysical cousin to hoarding—known as kipple.
The effect has been to turn my smallish Brooklyn apartment, where I've lived for 12 years, into some kind of above-sea-level reef where things attach and occasionally break off, but mostly they attach, accrue, accumulate, affix, amass and asphyxiate. And in such a reef, things can easily go missing, like my lone fork. Luckily, being of a somewhat infantile nature, I don't mind eating with a spoon, of which I have three...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:29 AM
( 11:23 AM ) The Rat
HOW ART HISTORY MAJORS POWER THE U.S. ECONOMY, via WO.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:23 AM
( 10:49 AM ) The Rat
"PEOPLE MAY THINK IT'S ALL TUTUS AND PINK TIGHTS BUT WHAT KEEPS ADULTS IN BALLET IS NOT THE FAIRY TALE, IT'S THE GRITTY STORIES THAT YOU GET TO TELL AND EXPRESS." An interview with Lauren Cuthbertson.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:49 AM
( 10:26 AM ) The Rat
THE END OF GIRL LAND, via MR. There are some embarrassingly self-revelatory things I could say about this essay, but instead I'll just excerpt in an embarrassingly self-revelatory way.
"Spring and Fall" is a short poem about the biggest subjects: human suffering and mortality. The improbable metaphor for these lofty themes is a young child leaving her girlhood behind. Margaret may flatter herself that what is grieving her is the end of Goldengrove, a sylvan playland laid waste by another autumn. But of course, it's her own loss of little-girlhood she’s mourning.
My mother and father were people who got noticed. They were famous for their dinner parties—for my father's wit and for my mother's easy way around so many different kinds of people. But for my mother, nothing was as significant as having two little girls. Having these daughters, one a quiet helper and thoughtful companion, the other a chatterbox and minor villain, was a perfect fulfillment of a deep longing. She never recovered from losing her own mother as a girl and never believed it possible to recapture that lost world—the dress-up box and the fairy plays and the evenings in the rocking chair—until there it was again, complete...
This passage immediately reminded me of a friend's observation, some years back, that she had difficulty understanding how any woman could not want children who had been at all close to her own mother as a child. And it's also reminiscent, for me—for all that I have certain reasons for wanting at least one son and not "just" daughters—of something I was reminded of attending Minghella's staging of Butterfly for a second time, the week before last. One of the things I find so powerful about that staging, and particularly about his use not only of light and color but of space, is that in tableaux where you see only the lone figure of Cio-Cio San (particularly when the long trails of red are used to emphasize how physically small she is, on that ocean of a stage), what's driven home with tremendous, viscerally felt force is something it took me decades to understand: that the fate of one woman—however modest her station—is more important than anything in the world. This is why the practice is entirely appropriate of wishing only the groom "Congratulations," while saying "I wish you every happiness" to the bride. And it is, I think, one of the things I love about opera—not that there aren't gorgeous male roles and certainly plenty of astounding male singers, but ultimately, so many operas are the story of what happens to one woman, for precisely this reason. Daughters matter in a way sons never will. "I love my son," a young mother told me recently, "—but it was only when my daughter was born that I realized how easy straight men have it in this life... Because it's so easy to fall in love with a girl, you know?—women are so beautiful. It's not the same way for us."
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:26 AM
Sunday, January 08, 2012
( 11:46 PM ) The Rat
"THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AENEAS AND DIDO... WAS BASICALLY A FRIENDSHIP WITH BENEFITS, OR AT LEAST AENEAS THOUGHT IT WAS, WHEREAS DIDO WAS A LOT MORE INVESTED." Dating tips from Dickens, Austen and Tolstoy, via Salon.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:46 PM
( 9:56 PM ) The Rat
NO PRESSURE! via IKM.
Starting a few years ago, I began noticing a dazzling array of findings clustered around the prenatal period. These discoveries were generating considerable excitement among scientists, even as they overturned settled beliefs about when we start absorbing and responding to information from our environment. As a science reporter—and as a mother—I had to find out more.
This research, I discovered, is part of a burgeoning field known as "fetal origins," and it's turning pregnancy into something it has never been before: a scientific frontier. Obstetrics was once a sleepy medical specialty, and research on pregnancy a scientific backwater. Now the nine months of gestation are the focus of intense interest and excitement, the subject of an exploding number of journal articles, books, and conferences.
What it all adds up to is this: much of what a pregnant woman encounters in her daily life—the air she breathes, the food and drink she consumes, the chemicals she's exposed to, even the emotions she feels—are shared in some fashion with her fetus. They make up a mix of influences as individual and idiosyncratic as the woman herself. The fetus treats these maternal contributions as information, as what I like to call biological postcards from the world outside...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:56 PM
( 6:06 PM ) The Rat
"'IT'S AMAZING HOW BEAUTIFULLY WE PLAY,' A MUSICIAN SAYS, 'WHEN WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL THE GUY ON THE PODIUM IS DOING.'" What Does a Conductor Do? via New York. All I know is, I can't do it. I didn't even try to brave the "virtual conductor" thingey at the Haus der Musik; and my few minutes trying to conduct the middle-school orchestra of which I was concertmistress, were a disaster.
I'm standing on a podium, with an enameled wand cocked between my fingers and sweat dampening the small of my back. Ranks of young musicians eye me skeptically. They know I don't belong here, but they're waiting for me to pretend I do. I raise my arm in the oppressive silence and let it drop. Miraculously, Mozart's overture to Don Giovanni explodes in front of me, ragged but recognizable, violently thrilling. This feels like an anxiety dream, but it’s actually an attempt to answer a question that the great conductor Riccardo Muti asked on receiving an award last year: "What is it, really, I do?"
I have been wondering what, exactly, a conductor does since around 1980, when I led a JVC boom box in a phenomenal performance of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony in my bedroom. I was bewitched by the music—the poignant plod of the second movement, the crazed gallop of the fourth—and fascinated by the sorcery. In college, I took a conducting course, presided over a few performances of my own compositions, and led the pit orchestra for a modern-dance program. Those crumbs of experience left me in awe of the constellation of skills and talents required of a conductor—and also made me somewhat skeptical that waving a stick creates a coherent interpretation...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:06 PM
( 2:47 PM ) The Rat
"I REMEMBER JOKING ABOUT THROWING A TELEVISION OUT THE WINDOW AT MY FRIEND'S CABIN IN GRADE NINE, AND HER OLDER BROTHER (WHO I HAD AN INSANE CRUSH ON) RESPONDED BY SAYING, 'THAT'S WHAT I LOVE ABOUT YOU, AGGRESSIVE WOMEN ARE SO FUNNY.' NEEDLESS TO SAY, THE CRUSH ENDED ABRUPTLY." Reader comment on Hell Hath No Fury, via Nerve. Dear God, this essay is SO ACCURATE. If you know a single heterosexual female out there who hasn't experienced this, have her call me—I want her autograph.
For the next year, Rex and I didn't interact. Our mutual friend kept relaying that Rex missed me. Rex began leaving apologetic voicemails that sounded genuinely apologetic. Finally, I returned one of his calls. His screw-up might have been monumental—to this day, I can picture his head popping up from between my legs and emitting those ridiculous words—but up until then, he'd been nothing but smart, kind and loyal. So, we talked. Tentatively at first, but frankly. Weeks lapsed until he called again, but over time we renewed our friendship. Periodically, though, he'd tease me about "how mad" I got that night. My reply was always the same, "What did you expect?"
And he'd laugh and say, "I don't know, but boy, you were mad."
Shortly thereafter, I was with some girlfriends at an upscale bar downtown when a group of guys asked if they could join us. An attorney with dark, wavy hair in a plaid oxford shirt sat next to me, and we bantered flirtatiously for an hour. He was ring-free and never mentioned a partner. That is, until he asked for my phone number.
"But you'll have to call me on my cell. My wife and I are in a weird place right now," he said, attempting to elicit sympathy.
"Maybe that's because you hit on women in bars," I noted.
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked. "You don't know the whole story."
"And I don't want to," I said.
"God, you really don't like being a woman, do you?"
In two short moves we'd leapt from his infidelity to my ostensible gender dysmorphia and/or self-loathing. If this were checkers, he'd have been king, albeit of the dipshits.
What struck me was that both Rex and the attorney had delivered ill-timed, emotionally charged information, and when I'd expressed proportionate anger or irritation, the blame somehow boomeranged back onto me. I'd been expected to remain amiable, though by any objective measurement, that expectation was ludicrous. Either guy could have physically pummeled me had he chosen, so it's not as if they were in danger, even for a second. Yet their reaction was still confusion and rancor when I pointed out their inanity.
The first time I burped in front of my college boyfriend, he said he didn't know girls could burp. I pointed out that women, in this case, share the same physiology as men, so why wouldn't we burp? He said he didn't know why not, but that his mom and his other girlfriends had never burped. When I laughed and said they'd never burped in front of him, he dug in his heels. His mom and ex-girlfriends didn't burp, so how was he supposed to know I could? Female burping was an urban legend, apparently, like alligators in toilets or crepes that turn out right the first time...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 PM
( 9:49 AM ) The Rat
ZOMG, THE ENCHANTED ISLAND is so worth your time (and money). Am seriously tempted to see it again in lieu of a new Verdi (by re-exchanging a ticket I already exchanged)—not just because I now, finally, understand why anybody would like Baroque opera, but because last night's really was the most transporting, pull-you-into-another-world performance I've experienced since the night I discovered opera in the first place, 3-1/2 years ago... and for sheer caliber of singing, it's the best night I've ever heard. Which may have had something to do with the cast.
I think non-operagoers and NYC partisans in general probably imagine that the Met is like this every night; in my experience, it's like this for about 1-2 nights out of a season's worth of operas (and I typically attend perhaps 15 or so per season). There were individual notes last night that I'd have bought a whole ticket just to hear.
P.S. Really, is there anything more unnerving than hearing a countertenor start singing whom you didn't realize was a countertenor before he started singing?! I almost jumped in my chair when David Daniels first opened his mouth. He was terrific as Prospero and Anthony Roth Costanzo*, as Ferdinand, was so good you would even notice him on a stage that's got Joyce DiDonato and Placido Domingo on it—but it still takes a little getting used to hearing an adult male in that register!
*Turns out he's a Princeton grad. Ew.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:49 AM
Saturday, January 07, 2012
( 4:20 AM ) The Rat
"I STOPPED CRYING AND TRIED HARD TO BE PERFECT INSTEAD." Lauren Booth on her dysfunctional mother.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:20 AM
( 4:16 AM ) The Rat
WHAT HAPPENED TO WILLIAM PETIT was unquestionably terrible—but all the same, you have to love how in this write-up about his engagement, his soon-to-be new wife is reduced to being a bit player in her own life.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:16 AM
Friday, January 06, 2012
( 7:52 PM ) The Rat
THE HAPPY TRAP: HOW AN IRRATIONAL FEAR OF UNHAPPINESS CAN, AND DOES, BACKFIRE, via MR.
But Lindsay isn't to blame, nor is she alone. There are a lot of Lindsays out there: Young adults who are caught in the Happy Trap. Contrary to how it sounds, it's anything but fun. These young adults had stable upbringings, went off to good colleges and got solid educations, then graduated and became gainfully employed. They get along well with their families. They have a wide social circle. They have good relationships. They have nice things. And yet, they are not happy.
According to recent stories and studies—most notably Gottlieb's "How to Land your Kid in Therapy"—our awesome parenting may be exactly what is putting our kids on the fast track to a quarter-life crisis. Gottlieb observes that parents of the current generation of twenty and thirty-somethings were there for their kids in a way that previous generations of parents never had the luxury of even dreaming of.
These parents read up on child development and parenting theories. They were involved in their kids' projects. They chauffeured them around to every lesson, game, event and social obligation on their ridiculously over-packed schedules. They bird-dogged their kids' social lives and got involved when it seemed necessary. If there were problems at school, they scheduled conferences. And the Lindsays of the world are very grateful for all that their parents did for them.
The problem wasn't that these parents cared about their kids or took an interest in their hobbies or made the time to be involved in their lives. The problem was that these parents never wanted their kids to be unhappy. And if the kids ever were unhappy, these parents treated that unhappiness as if it were something akin to a case of the flu: It was a threat to their kids' health that needed to be remedied as soon as possible. In doing so, these parents set their kids up with an unreasonable expectation: If they aren't constantly happy then something is wrong...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:52 PM
( 7:51 PM ) The Rat
COOL PIC of the Great Ethiopian Run here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:51 PM
( 10:42 AM ) The Rat
WEDDING RING FOUND ON CARROT AFTER 16 YEARS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:42 AM
Thursday, January 05, 2012
( 1:43 PM ) The Rat
MOUNTAIN DEW CAN DISSOLVE A MOUSE, SAYS PEPSI, via BC. Truthfully, are any of us surprised?
An Illinois man is suing Pepsi Co. because, he says, he found a mouse in his can of Mountain Dew. But Pepsi says the guy is pulling a Strange Brew, and here's how they know: If there really were a mouse in a Mountain Dew can, it would have dissolved into 'a jelly-like substance' before the guy could find it. Seriously, this is their defense...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:43 PM
( 1:42 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:42 PM
( 1:41 PM ) The Rat
WHERE YOUR CRAP COMES FROM. Really looking forward to this episode.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:41 PM
( 1:40 PM ) The Rat
FINALLY, A HAVEN FOR THE 'BEEROISSEUR,' via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:40 PM
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
( 7:48 PM ) The Rat
"BUCKETS OF MY TEARS," via Passive-Aggressive Notes.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:48 PM
( 7:47 PM ) The Rat
In 1949 he was diagnosed as having prostate cancer. By January 1951 his health was declining rapidly and his doctor, Edward Bevan, at Cambridge, invited him to stay with the family for the last days. Joan Bevan, with whom we started, again: "On April 27, two days before he died, we had a walk to the pub. That night, he became violently ill... I stayed with him in his room the night of the 28th. We told him his close friends in England would be coming the next day. Before losing consciousness that night, he said, "Tell them I've had a wonderful life.'"
—Great Lives, "Ludwig Wittgenstein"
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:47 PM