The Rat
Thursday, May 31, 2012
      ( 4:58 PM ) The Rat  
HMM/YIKES, from February.

The tragedy of dying of tuberculosis (TB) has been brought home in a creative and poignant way, with the staging of the world premiere of La Bohème Abanxaxni in Cape Town.

Instead of Puccini's famous opera being set amongst the struggling artist community in 1930s Paris, the Isango Ensemble's production is set in the streets of Khayelithsa, where TB is as real today as it was 160 years after La Bohème was written...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:58 PM


      ( 2:34 PM ) The Rat  
REACHING LIFE GOALS: WHICH STRATEGIES WORK. Esp. see the "Sort good from bad" section.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:34 PM



Wednesday, May 30, 2012
      ( 4:07 PM ) The Rat  
HMM...

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      ( 11:58 AM ) The Rat  
DON'T MISS today's Google Doodle! Via ET.

I, of course, first learned about Fabergé the same way all well-educated children did in my generation...

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      ( 10:47 AM ) The Rat  
"EVERYTHING THAT HE DOES IS WITH EVERYTHING THAT HE HAS." A long march to commencement, via JWB.

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      ( 10:46 AM ) The Rat  
Mine was a generation of hollow-eyed women, chasing virtue. We, the mothers of North Seattle, were consumed with trying to do everything right. Breast-feeding was simply the first item in a long, abstruse to-do list: Cook organic baby food, buy expensive wooden toys, create an enriching home environment, sleep with your child in your bed, ensure that your house was toxin free, use cloth diapers, carry your child in a sling, dress your child in organic fibers, join a baby group so your child could develop peer attachments. And don't quit your job. But be sure to agonize about it. And enjoy an active sex life. But only with your spouse! Also, don't forget to recycle.

I looked around and saw eye bags everywhere. When I got together with my girlfriends, fun seemed not to come into the picture. Forget about going out drinking or dancing; we seldom met for coffee anymore—nothing for the baby to do. Instead, day in and day out, we met at the flat, weed-choked lake that lay in the center of northwest Seattle. A little shy of three miles around, Green Lake's paved path made a just-right walk. You'd meet your friend there, and after a while, you got so sleepy and worn out, it hardly made a difference which friend. We were all merging into one woman, and sometimes I felt I couldn't tell my friends apart. They were all new moms. They were all part-time workers with interesting, creative, exhausting jobs. They all had haircuts that were once really good but were now growing unpruned and wayward. They were all married, and they would complain about their husbands in slightly ironic voices, voices that said they knew how good they had it, after all, he loaded the dishwasher every night, after all, he still played in a band, after all, he was just plain someone else, someone not a baby, in the house.

—Claire Dederer, "Balancing Act," Vogue, January 2011


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Tuesday, May 29, 2012
      ( 9:29 PM ) The Rat  
Luke, I think that you should think of it not as chopped liver, butthink of it as Jewish guacamole.
—The Sporkful, Episode 124: "Chopped Liver"

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      ( 9:10 PM ) The Rat  
SHRINKING THE INNER CRITIC IN COMPLEX PTSD. Fun!

In my work with clients repetitively traumatized in childhood, I am continuously struck by how frequently the various thought processes of the inner critic trigger them into overwhelming emotional flashbacks. This is because the PTSD-derived inner critic weds shame and self-hate about imperfection to fear of abandonment, and mercilessly drive the psyche with the entwined serpents of perfectionism and endangerment. Recovering individuals must learn to recognize, confront and disidentify from the many inner critic processes that tumble them back in emotional time to the awful feelings of overwhelming fear, self-hate, hopelessness and self-disgust that were part and parcel of their original childhood abandonment...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:10 PM


      ( 3:58 PM ) The Rat  
AROUND THE WORLD IN A TIMELAPSE.

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      ( 3:57 PM ) The Rat  
TIME TO CHILL? Nancy Hass on the new egg-freezing technologies, from the May 2011 Vogue.

Leah never thought she'd need to do this. The plan was to be married by now. But her on-and-off boyfriend, a gourmet-food importer, just isn't headed in the same direction as she. He's adorable but not serious. He smokes too much pot. Her boss at her last job had brought up egg freezing a couple of years before, after he and his wife, in their late 30s, had had trouble conceiving, and he urged her to look into anything that would spare her the pain they'd gone through. The idea had floated back to her in recent months. She knew she was coming dangerously close to the age when eligible men might search her eyes for desperation, that unseemly my-clock-is-ticking vibe. "Freezing my eggs is my little secret," she says. "I want to feel there's a backup plan. I don't want to waste the next few years in a state of panic, or feel terrible every time I hear that one of my married friends is pregnant"...

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      ( 1:42 PM ) The Rat  
"NO OFFENSE, BUT I DIDN'T GO TO ART SCHOOL TO WORK IN AN OFFICE, OKAY?"

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:42 PM


      ( 12:21 PM ) The Rat  
HOW DO ASTRONAUTS LIFT WEIGHTS IN SPACE?

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:21 PM


      ( 10:53 AM ) The Rat  
"IF, ON THE VERY RARE OCCASION, HE ACTUALLY DOES ARRIVE, YOU WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO TAKE OUT A RESTRAINING ORDER, OR, ALTERNATIVELY, PICK HIM UP AT THE AIRPORT." Lies Hollywood Told Us: Love and Romance Edition, from the Atlantic.

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      ( 10:06 AM ) The Rat  
HEE!! Via EG.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:06 AM


      ( 8:20 AM ) The Rat  
TECHNOLOGY finally catches up with the 1983 miniseries V!

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:20 AM


      ( 8:01 AM ) The Rat  
UNBUILT LONDON: TALL TOWERS AND STRANGE SKYSCRAPERS. If 30 St. Mary Axe was immediately rechristened the Gherkin, I shudder to think what the "Green Bird" (third photo from left, top row; or see here) would've been called?

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:01 AM



Monday, May 28, 2012
      ( 10:52 PM ) The Rat  
AS MEMORIAL DAY NEARS, A SINGLE IMAGE THAT CONTINUES TO HAUNT, via PES by way of JWB.

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      ( 5:49 PM ) The Rat  
THE OPPOSITE OF LONELINESS, via JWB. Probably the most accurate description I've read of what Yale is like at its best. R.I.P. Marina Keegan.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:49 PM


      ( 8:08 AM ) The Rat  
WEAR BLUE: RUN TO REMEMBER.

This also wouldn't be the worst day to remember the living. AnySoldier.com's FAQ on sending care packages is here. Here's a window on what a first deployment can feel like for the loved one(s) back home (see the comments thread, not just the letter); here, a military spouse talks a little about what we can do to help military families.

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      ( 7:57 AM ) The Rat  
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
—George S. Patton

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Sunday, May 27, 2012
      ( 10:26 PM ) The Rat  
I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here, beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung. With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept, plighted faith may be broken, and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke: but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.
—James A. Garfield, speech at Arlington on Decoration Day, May 30, 1868

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:26 PM


      ( 9:06 PM ) The Rat  
WOMEN TRYING TO HAVE BABIES ALSO NEED TO THINK ABOUT CIRCADIAN CLOCK, via ScienceDaily. Wacky (though perhaps less so in the light of other recent findings, like this).

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:06 PM


      ( 6:56 PM ) The Rat  
Ralph shook his head sadly. "I might show it to you, but you'd never see it. The privilege isn't given to every one; it's not enviable. It has never been seen by a young, happy, innocent person like you. You must have suffered first, have suffered greatly, have gained some miserable knowledge. In that way your eyes are opened to it. I saw it long ago," said Ralph.

"I told you just now I'm very fond of knowledge," Isabel answered.

"Yes, of happy knowledge—of pleasant knowledge. But you haven't suffered, and you're not made to suffer. I hope you'll never see the ghost!"

She had listened to him attentively, with a smile on her lips, but with a certain gravity in her eyes. Charming as he found her, she had struck him as rather presumptuous—indeed it was a part of her charm; and he wondered what she would say. "I'm not afraid, you know," she said: which seemed quite presumptuous enough.

"You're not afraid of suffering?"

"Yes, I'm afraid of suffering. But I'm not afraid of ghosts. And I think people suffer too easily," she added.

"I don't believe you do," said Ralph, looking at her with his hands in his pockets.

"I don't think that's a fault," she answered. "It's not absolutely necessary to suffer; we were not made for that."

Portrait of a Lady

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:56 PM



Saturday, May 26, 2012
      ( 7:11 AM ) The Rat  
This is not a race, this is a colonoscopy gone wrong. —unnamed runner after completing one loop of the Barkley Marathons (super-entertaining interview with race director Gary Cantrell here; good basic article on the race here)

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Thursday, May 24, 2012
      ( 11:25 PM ) The Rat  
RANDOM WODEHOUSE QUOTE, via WO.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:25 PM


      ( 3:45 PM ) The Rat  
THE WORST TIME TRAVEL MOVIE BRACKETS ARE OPEN!

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      ( 8:27 AM ) The Rat  
"FOR ME LIFE CONSISTED UTTERLY OF THOSE LARGE WORDS FOR I KNEW NO MORE OF IT THAN THE INFINITE, INSUBSTANTIAL EMOTIONS WHICH THEY CALLED UP IN ME. FROM MAN I EXPECTED DIVINE VIRTUE OR HAIR-RAISING WICKEDNESS; FROM LIFE EITHER RAVISHING LOVELINESS OR ELSE CONSUMMATE HORROR; AND I WAS FULL OF AVIDITY FOR ALL THAT AND OF A PROFOUND, TORMENTED YEARNING FOR A LARGER REALITY, FOR EXPERIENCE OF NO MATTER WHAT KIND, LET IT BE GLORIOUS AND INTOXICATING BLISS OR UNSPEAKABLE, UNDREAMED-OF ANGUISH..." So it turns out Thos. Mann's "Disillusionment" is the source for the Peggy Lee song "Is That All There Is?"—more about that here, and here.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012
      ( 4:40 PM ) The Rat  
HEH. Via ET.

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      ( 10:12 AM ) The Rat  
WHAT'S A NICE COSMO GIRL LIKE YOU DOING WITH AN ORTHODOX HUSBAND? from a 2000 Los Angeles Times Magazine.

I spent many months grappling with the "female" question. So much of what I saw in the religious way of life seemed at odds with what I thought I knew. But at one point I had to ask myself: What have I been told by my schooling and my society, and what do I really see in the world? What is my experience? My answer: Men and women are significantly, dramatically different, emotionally and physically (and now, I realize, spiritually). Judaism addresses these differences. I looked—really looked—at the religious women around me. I had never met stronger, more emotionally and spiritually refined, capable, loving, non-neurotic women. Or more sensitive, respectful, devoted men. Or more happy, physically intact, cared-for children. I wanted that...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:12 AM



Tuesday, May 22, 2012
      ( 8:25 PM ) The Rat  
"WOMEN DEAL WITH THIS STUFF ON A DAILY BASIS, YEAR AFTER YEAR, AS THEY MOVE FORWARD IN A LANDSCAPE OF LEERING ELDERS. BUT IT WAS NEW TO ME." Six Things Men Can Learn From Getting Hit On By Men, via Nerve.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:25 PM


      ( 7:39 PM ) The Rat  
PARENT HEALTH CARE AND MODERN MEDICINE'S OBSESSION WITH LONGEVITY.

Mike Wallace, that indefatigable network newsman, died last month in a burst of stories about his accomplishments and character. I focused, though, on a lesser element in the Times' obituary, that traditional wave-away line: "He had been ill for several years."

"What does that mean?" I tweeted the young reporter whose byline was on the obit. Someone else responded that it meant Wallace was old. Duh! But then I was pointed to a Washington Post story mentioning dementia. The Times shortly provided an update: Wallace had had bypass surgery four years ago and had been at a facility in Connecticut ever since.

This is not just a drawn-out, stoic, and heroic long good-bye. This is human carnage. Seventy percent of those older than 80 have a chronic disability, according to one study; 53 percent in this group have at least one severe disability; and 36 percent have moderate to severe cognitive impairments; you definitely don't want to know what's considered to be a moderate impairment.

From a young and healthy perspective, we tend to look at dementia as merely ­Alzheimer's—a cancerlike bullet, an unfortunate genetic fate, which, with luck, we'll avoid. In fact, Alzheimer's is just one form—not, as it happens, my mother's—of the ­ever-more-encompassing conditions of cognitive collapse that are the partners and the price of longevity...

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      ( 7:33 PM ) The Rat  
OUCH, via TT.

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      ( 12:08 PM ) The Rat  
SHAME ON PETER GELB, via TT. Edited to add: The Met has reversed its decision. Maybe the Internet is good for one or two things after all?

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:08 PM



Monday, May 21, 2012
      ( 8:36 PM ) The Rat  
HOW COMMON IS YOUR BIRTHDAY?

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:36 PM


      ( 6:59 PM ) The Rat  
THE LOWEST DIFFICULTY SETTING THERE IS, via AB. This exact point was made to me some years ago, though in non-gamer language, by one of my favorite straight white males, KD. That he was both honest enough, and thoughtful enough, to have figured this out by barely over age 30 goes a long way toward explaining why I've always been so devoted to him. (KD further noted, as this post doesn't, that the next-easiest setting is probably straight white female.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 PM


      ( 4:46 PM ) The Rat  
WHOA. I hadn't realized Rodarte and Frank Gehry had done the costumes and set design, respectively, for a production of Don Giovanni... but that's very L.A. (Donna Anna's costume looks pretty good; I'm more dubious about the others.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:46 PM


      ( 3:02 PM ) The Rat  
"WHEN WRITING THE COMIC I KNEW THAT RADAR DIDN'T WORK UNDERWATER, BUT I REEEEEALLY WANTED TO MAKE THAT JOKE ABOUT EDISON'S GRANDCHILDREN GETTING HIT IN THE MOUTH BY A TORPEDO, SO I LEFT IT IN." The Oatmeal responds to Forbes.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012
      ( 11:43 PM ) The Rat  
Moments of questioning come to us all. It is human nature to ask why we put ourselves in certain situations and why life places hurdles in our path. Only the most saintly and delusional among us welcomes all pain as challenge, perceives all loss as harsh blessing. I know that. I know that I've chosen a sport stuffed with long stretches of agony, that I belong to a small, eclectic community of men and women where status is calibrated precisely as a function of one's ability to endure.
—Scott Jurek, Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:43 PM



Thursday, May 17, 2012
      ( 7:18 PM ) The Rat  
"FOR INSTANCE, HOURS AFTER THEY HAD DONE THE MATH AND TIED THE KNOT, BURTON AND HIS WIFE WERE DRIVING TO THEIR HONEYMOON DESTINATION WHEN HE TURNED TO HER AND SAID, 'WHAT HAVE I DONE?'"

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:18 PM


      ( 7:02 PM ) The Rat  
HMM...

A network of brain regions which is activated during intense aesthetic experience overlaps with the brain network associated with inward contemplation and self-assessment, New York University researchers have found...

Also via ScienceDaily: Being beside the seaside is good for you and Our left cheek shows more emotion, which observers find more aesthetically pleasing.

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:02 PM


      ( 3:39 PM ) The Rat  
"WE WERE A PRECIOUS COMMODITY FOR THE GERMANS. WE WERE MORE VALUABLE ALIVE THAN DEAD." The extraordinary story of Zhanna Dawson, via IKM.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:39 PM



Tuesday, May 15, 2012
      ( 1:02 PM ) The Rat  
FOR THE FIRST TIME, RESEARCHERS TRACK MANTA RAYS WITH SATELLITES. You just know those guys are cruising along going, "F*** THE PIGS!!!"

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Monday, May 14, 2012
      ( 5:38 PM ) The Rat  
SOLAR ECLIPSE THIS SUNDAY!

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Sunday, May 13, 2012
      ( 1:44 PM ) The Rat  
TOP 10 PREGNANCY PROCEDURES TO REJECT, via Consumer Reports by way of AB.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:44 PM


      ( 1:43 PM ) The Rat  
It was the past year of my life, shortened into a span of 26.2 arduous miles. It was the culmination of experiences, the knowledge that my body can be pushed past its breaking point, just like my heart.
—Kristin Armstrong, "The Next Big Step"

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:43 PM



Saturday, May 12, 2012
      ( 11:19 PM ) The Rat  
STRUGGLING CITY'S COFFEE SHOP SERVES IT ALL, via Wait Wait.

The key to the shop's comprehensive business plan: offer as many services as possible to any conceivable customer. In the florescent-lit rooms behind espresso machines, walk-in clients can see a notary or submit a urine sample. If that's not enough, go upstairs to have family portraits taken in the on-site photography studio.

Jimmy Jackson made use of the document-services center last week, printing job applications as he waited to testify in court. He said his brother, whose custody case was pending, had his taxes done during the trial.

"And the coffee ain't half bad," Jackson added.

On a normal day, jurors and lawyers mix with criminal defendants, city bureaucrats cross paths with recovering addicts from the nearby methadone clinic—and everyone comes to see Mona Pryor, whose job title as City Coffee's operations director scarcely hints at her many roles.

"Lawyers are always coming in here to ask me to put in a good word with judge so-and-so, or asking me to introduce them to someone from the other side," said Pryor. She is the one-woman force behind most of City Coffee's services, with an associate's degree in accounting and a variety of specialty certificates...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:19 PM


      ( 6:15 PM ) The Rat  
A GIGANTIC HIGH-RESOLUTION PHOTO OF EARTH, via Outside.

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      ( 5:27 PM ) The Rat  
'THE PAST DOES NOT HAUNT US. WE HAUNT THE PAST...' Augusten Burroughs on letting go, via AB. It took me 1.5 marathons to figure this out.

Many people with difficult histories carry these histories with them, burnishing the past with each retelling. Sometimes, a particular trauma may be the largest thing we have ever experienced. So we kind of move into it, make it our home. Because there's nothing in our lives on the scale of that loss or that trauma.

So, you need a larger life. Something that can successfully compete with your past.

To live with your mind in the past—in the name of healing or understanding or overcoming—is to live in a fantasy world where nothing new or original is created. To "understand" one's past is to handle clay that no longer exists and shape it into a bowl nobody can ever see or touch.

Denial of the painful events in one's past is the same as obsessing over one's past. To actively refuse to discuss or think about, if need be, what happened is to imbue it with power. Recycling the past into a new business, a not-for-profit to help others, a workshop, a painting, a book, a song—these are ways to explore the past in the context of the present. These are things people who are actively alive do.

You must never allow something that happened to you to become a morbidly treasured heirloom that you carry around, show people occasionally, put back in its black velvet pouch, and then tuck back into your jacket where you can keep it close to your heart.

Then, when asked to join the pole vaulting club, pull the coach aside and whisper, "I can't. See"—and remove your gem from your pocket—"this is my terrible thing and as I expected, showing it to you has taken your breath away and made you sympathetic. So I will be excused, I assume?"

Other people will allow you—they will never blame you or challenge you—to use your past as an excuse to not face the normal fears everybody has when facing their future. Even if you were brutally physically assaulted, you must not withdraw because you are afraid it will happen again. This is not a valid exit.

Your fears that it might happen again are perfectly reasonable and justified: It might happen again.

Many people believe that if something really bad happens to them, they have paid their dues and nothing else really bad can happen again. But on the day you attend your mother's funeral or declare personal bankruptcy, there is no law in the universe that prevents you from also getting a speeding ticket and your first grey hair.

When multiple bad things happen, it can feel like "life is out to get you." It's not. And it's not a sign, either. What you do is, you keep going. You stop waiting for fairness...


# Posted by The Rat @ 5:27 PM


      ( 5:03 PM ) The Rat  
TRAINING WHEELS DON'T WORK. I have long suspected as much. Via AB.

Compared to the rub-some-dirt-on-it old-timeyness of training wheels, balance bikes—those wooden, pedalless bikes you've definitely seen if you live in Portland or Brooklyn, and you've maybe seen if you live somewhere else—look like a newfangled waste of money, a meta-bike, a parody of the kinds of crap consumer-culture parents will buy. (They will buy a bike that literally doesn't work!) But the balance bike isn't newfangled at all. It is a direct descendant of the first proto-bicycle. And its popularity is growing for very good reason: It corrects the tragic historical error of training wheels.

It's unclear when training wheels became popular, although historians suggest the early 1900s seem most likely. But it’s apparent why they became popular. They were an obvious solution to an obvious problem: How do you convince someone to climb onto something that is obviously going to fall over?

It's easy to forget how counterintuitive the act of bicycling is. For starters, to steady a bicycle, you have to turn in the direction that the bike is leaning. This is so unconscious that when you're riding a bike you don't know you're doing it. Children know they're doing it, though, which is why they have such trouble. It just feels wrong. The intellect, as Mark Twain wrote after learning to ride a bicycle, "has to teach the limbs to discard their old education and adopt the new"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:03 PM


      ( 4:03 PM ) The Rat  
DEPRESSEDCOPYWRITER.COM, via WC.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:03 PM



Friday, May 11, 2012
      ( 12:14 PM ) The Rat  
When I see myself surrounded by beings as ephemeral and incomprehensible as I am myself, and all excitedly pursuing pure chimeras, I experience a strange feeling of being in a dream. It seems to me as if I have loved and suffered and that erelong I shall die, in a dream. My last words will be, 'I have been dreaming.'
—Louise Ackermann

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:14 PM


      ( 12:12 PM ) The Rat  
CHANGING TIMES ON THE RESERVOIR PATH, via MR.

In 1913 The New York Sun indicated that regular walking there had been considered a 'trifle freakish' in the 1890s, but that now hundreds took 'their constitutionals,' paying 'no heed to weather.' Runners could feel cramped; in 1923 the bridle paths were closed three nights a week for long-distance runners training for the Olympic Games. That summer, the United States did not place in the 10,000-meter run, but a New Yorker, Jackson Scholz, took the 200-meter event.

It was not just walkers and runners. In July 1928 scores of people on what The Times called 'the promenade' saw a household servant, Elvira Prange, struggling in the water off 90th Street. A mounted policeman, John D. Tracy, jumped the fence on horseback and saved her. Miss Prange said she had tried to drown herself because her mother had not been writing regularly from Germany.

Originally, the upper reservoir had been surrounded by a low iron fence like the one in place now. This was removed in 1926 amid many protests, replaced by a tall chain-link fence to discourage littering in the water. In a letter to The Times, Helen Kobbe objected to the 'unsightly' fence. The 'soft beaten path,' she said, was 'a favorite walk for many people, from the professional athlete to the misses and children.' From that time onward, praise like Cook's for the reservoir path seems to dwindle.

Jogging around the reservoir has increased, so much so that one-way signs were posted, implicitly ratifying its character as a running track. But after the tall fence was replaced in 2003, walkers flooded back, and the signs make no sense for them, as they rarely go all the way around and ought to be free to amble in any direction.

Two months ago, Erika Dreifus posted an essay on The Times's 'Complaint Box' expressing annoyance with runners who violated the one-way signs. The responses indicate frustration on the part of both runners and walkers: denouncing runners 'coming at you like steers'; suggesting the use of aerosol horns to blast people going the wrong way; describing the one-way advocates as 'judgmental, petty people'...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:12 PM


      ( 11:03 AM ) The Rat  
ALL-SEEING BLIMP COULD BE AFGHANISTAN'S BIGGEST BRAIN, from January 2011.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:03 AM



Wednesday, May 09, 2012
      ( 9:33 PM ) The Rat  
"MY GENERAL THINKING ON THE SUBJECT IS THAT IF BUTTER IS GOOD, MORE BUTTER IS BETTER. AND THAT THE BUTTER USED TO MAKE THE CROISSANT DOESN'T REALLY COUNT BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SEE IT." I don't think I even noticed that they made croissants at Mille-Feuille, because I was too busy inhaling their very good macarons.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:33 PM


      ( 11:05 AM ) The Rat  
BOAT OPERATORS STRUGGLE WITH HEAVIER LOAD.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:05 AM



Tuesday, May 08, 2012
      ( 4:42 PM ) The Rat  
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHEESE! In case you were having any doubts about the cultural superiority of Italy and France.

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:42 PM


      ( 11:35 AM ) The Rat  
HANDGUN EGG FRYER MOLD, via DB. This would go perfectly with my silhouette-target apron.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:35 AM


      ( 9:46 AM ) The Rat  
LESS THAN THREE MONTHS TILL THE BOURNE LEGACY! Trailer here.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:46 AM



Monday, May 07, 2012
      ( 9:31 PM ) The Rat  
RUN LIKE FIRE ONCE MORE: CHASING PERFECTION AT THE WORLD'S LONGEST FOOTRACE. This is, so to speak, the loopiest ultra I've ever heard of.

Such were the hazards last summer in Jamaica, Queens, at the tenth running of the Self-Transcendence 3,100. The fifteen participants—all but two of them disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Chinmoy, who has resided in the neighborhood for forty years—hailed from ten countries on three continents. They ran in all weather, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, or until their bodies compelled them to rest. If they logged fewer than fifty miles on a given day, they risked disqualification. By their own reckoning, the runners climbed eight meters per lap, mounting and descending a spectral Everest every week and a half. They toiled in this fashion for six to eight weeks, however long it took them to complete 5,649 circuits—3,100 miles—around a single city block.

Before any concerns aesthetic or spiritual, the loop serves the practical function of enabling the Base Camp crew to attend to the physical requirements of runners traveling at all speeds. (By the sixth week of the race, nine hundred miles would separate course record holder Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk, of Solingen, Germany, from Suprabha Beckjord, in last place.11. The fifty-year-old proprietor of the Washington, D.C., gift shop Transcendence—Perfection—Bliss of the Beyond, Beckjord is the only female competitor in the race's history and the only ten-time participant, having returned to Jamaica every June since the inaugural running. She has logged enough miles around Edison High to circle the equator.) But in another, more ethereal sense, the Self-Transcendence Race could not exist on any other course. Here was a kind of living koan, a race of invisible miles across a phantom plain wider than the continental United States. For fifty days, breathing miasmal exhaust from the Grand Central Parkway, the runner traversed a wilderness of knapsack-toting teenagers, beat cops, and ladies piloting strollers. Temperatures spiked. Power grids crashed. Cars also crashed—into the chain-link fence around Joe Austin park or into other cars. There was occasional street crime. One summer a student was knifed in the head. The runner endured. He crossed the finish line changed. It was said to be the most difficult racecourse in the world. Point-to-point racing is gentler on the spirit, and concrete is ten times more punishing than asphalt. Such hurdles were more than necessary evils; they were central to the nature of the race. As one of the disciples told me, grinning and drawing air quotes with his fingers, "It's 'impossible.'"

I fell into step beside Abichal Watkins, a forty-five-year-old Welshman with a keen, appraising squint. After only five days, he looked like a man who had wandered out of the desert with a story to tell. "There are so few things for the mind to dwell on here," Abichal said. "It loses its strength." Relative to most of the racers, Abichal—born Kelvin and rechristened in 1999 by Sri Chinmoy—came to distance running late in life. That tale begins in the mid-1990s, when Chinmoy announced the completion of his millionth "Soul Bird" painting (artworks expressing the "heart's oneness"), and his disciples resolved to match the feat by running, collectively, a million miles. Abichal pledged an even thousand. Within a year, Chinmoy had painted another million Soul Birds, and the running project was scuttled, but Abichal kept it up. In Wales he edits a magazine and a website devoted to multiday ultramarathons. He had finished the Self-Transcendence Race twice before; a third attempt failed when his visa expired 2,700 miles in...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:31 PM


      ( 3:38 PM ) The Rat  
"CHIPS, PULLED PORK, MAC AND CHEESE, WAFFLES? THIS SANDWICH IS LIKE A VOLTRON OF BAD DECISIONS." The Wait Wait crew eat the Four-Courser.

This sandwich is great because it covers all the food groups, according to the Food Pyramid used during the Taft administration...

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:38 PM


      ( 11:34 AM ) The Rat  
THE SCREEN CAN'T HEAR WHEN YOU YELL 'BRAVO.' Mixed feelings about the arguments in this. I attended exactly one live-in-HD performance (Carmen beamed from La Scala) and left with no desire to ever attend another (the acoustics were terrible). The cannibalizing of audiences from regional companies seems inevitable, though, and on the whole I would rather have more people hearing the music—in whatever form—than not hearing the music.

Opera Lyra in Ottawa, Ontario, did a small survey of two local movie theaters in March 2011, finding that 40 percent of the attendees were lapsed Opera Lyra ticket buyers. "Asked why they do not attend Opera Lyra productions," the company’s director, Cathryn Gregor, wrote in an e-mail, "the respondents included among their reasons the high cost of tickets to live performance and the late nights at live performances. They also talked about 'being spoiled by Met HD.'"

Thirty percent of the survey's respondents had never attended live opera, a remarkable number—and well beyond my experience in my travels, in which almost all of the audiences were older, often lifelong opera lovers. But none of the company leaders I spoke to had any strong evidence these newcomers were being turned on to live opera in any significant numbers.

"A small number, a few," said Frank Dickerson, the executive director of the Piedmont Opera. "At most maybe 20 people, 15 people."

Christopher Hahn, director of the Pittsburgh Opera, said he viewed the broadcasts as augmentation of his company's offerings rather than as competition, but he added, "My assumption is, in smaller regional areas with smaller companies with limited resources, yes, indeed, rather than supporting a local civic enterprise, which may not have many resources but is at least a focus of live opera, maybe in those areas people would act to see the quality of the Met rather than going locally."

Everyone I spoke to praised the way the "Live in HD" series "puts opera in the general public's mind," as Dennis Hanthorn, the general director of the Atlanta Opera, phrased it. Yet no one suggested that it is giving concrete help to local companies...


# Posted by The Rat @ 11:34 AM



Friday, May 04, 2012
      ( 9:11 AM ) The Rat  
THE FORGETTING PILL ERASES PAINFUL MEMORIES FOREVER, via Wired.

Recoveries are possible, but they aren't necessarily neat. One of Brunet's patients was Lois, a retired member of the Canadian military living in Kingston, Ontario. When Lois describes the tragic arc of her life, she sounds like a cursed character in the Old Testament. Sexually molested as a child, she married an abusive man, who would later hang himself at home. Years after that, her teenage daughter was hit by a truck and died. "I'd been holding it together my entire life." she says. "But when I heard my child was gone I just started sobbing and couldn't stop. I felt this pain that I thought was going to kill me."

Lois coped by drinking. She would start around noon and keep going until she went to bed. "I lost four years to alcohol," she says. "But if I wasn't drunk then I was crying. I knew I was killing myself, but I didn't know what else to do."

In early 2011, Lois learned about the experimental trials being conducted by Brunet. She immediately wrote him an email, begging for help. "I'd spent a lot of my life in standard talk therapy," she says. "It just didn't do it for me. But this seemed like it might actually work." Last spring Lois began reconsolidation treatment at Brunet's hospital, driving to Montreal once a week. The routine was always the same: A nurse would give her propranolol, wait for the drug to take effect, and then have her read her life story out loud. The first few weeks were excruciating. "I was a mess for days afterward," she says. "I couldn't believe I'd signed up for this." But then, after five weeks of therapy, Lois felt herself slowly improve. She would still cry when describing the death of her daughter—Lois cried during our interview—but now she could stop crying. "That was the difference," she says. "I still remembered everything that happened, and it still hurt so much, but now I felt like I could live with it. The feelings were just less intense. The therapy let me breathe."

Such improvements, small though they may seem, are almost unheard of in psychiatry. "We never cure anything," Brunet says. "All we do is try to treat the worst symptoms. But I think this treatment has the potential to be the first psychiatric cure ever. For many people, the PTSD really is gone"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:11 AM



Thursday, May 03, 2012
      ( 8:13 PM ) The Rat  
"OUR SHORT FILM WILL SHOW THE GRISLY HEAD DEVELOPING FROM AN INERT LUMP OF CLAY TO A BLOOD-SPURTING, SEVERED STUMP." Behind the scenes of Salome: How to make a severed head, via ROH.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:13 PM


      ( 8:04 PM ) The Rat  
OF COURSE. Via IKM.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:04 PM


      ( 11:31 AM ) The Rat  
OSTRICH GOES JOGGING, GETS LIBELED.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:31 AM


      ( 11:29 AM ) The Rat  
"DON'T JUDGE ME BECAUSE I AM QUIET..." via AB.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:29 AM



Wednesday, May 02, 2012
      ( 12:37 PM ) The Rat  
PROMINENT BLOGGER: 'I'M LEAVING THE INTERNET FOR A YEAR.' I've never regretted even much shorter "sabbaticals" from the Internet. But I bet it's harder for this guy and for the generations that haven't really had much experience of an Internet-free life.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:37 PM


      ( 11:57 AM ) The Rat  
THE 15 GROSSEST THINGS YOU'RE EATING, via RH. I knew about most of these already (still remember our AP U.S. History teacher gleefully telling us about no. 4 while telling us about Upton Sinclair), but definitely don't miss nos. 8 and 11.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:57 AM


      ( 9:59 AM ) The Rat  
I clicked the link, opening a Webpage of photos. They were of people I had never seen, all carrying backpacks and wearing strange clothing. They were running, walking, and sometimes even crawling over the most unforgiving terrain imaginable: sand dunes, scorched salt flats, jagged boulders, and small thorn bushes. Were it not for the obvious suffering, the photos were beautiful; the landscapes came from paintings and Hollywood movies.

It was a juxtaposition of beauty and suffering that I had never seen. It was disturbing and painful, but fascinating. It was pleasurably voyeuristic to be sitting in the comfort of my high-backed chair while looking at people who were struggling to survive.

Then came the pictures of the feet. Some were taped, others blistered. Yet others had ceased to be feet except in the strictest definition. They had swollen, turned black and purple, been sliced, and were further disfigured from obvious infection. And yet, despite their condition, the next photos showed these warriors continuing, walking on nubs that any sane doctor would have sent to the emergency room.

'Those are crazy,' I wrote back. 'What in the heck are those from?'

'I don't really know... some friend sent me the link. It's some race in Africa somewhere.'

'Is this recent?'

'Oh yeah, it just happened,' he wrote back. 'It's happened for years. Every year, I think. People have died doing it.'

'Did you see these?' I asked. I sent him a link to pictures of more mangled feet.

'Yeah, I think that I looked at all of them.'

I clicked through to other pages and read a few of the press releases announcing a particular stage's results. I then came across what looked like a child's hand-drawn maps, complete with a legend. The maps had little lumps and symbols, complete with labels for 'sand dune,' 'salt flat,' 'tree,' and other. They were absurdly simple renderings for such a dangerous event. Was this all that the race organizers gave these runners as they struggled to survive in the Sahara?

'Holy cow! Did you read these press releases?' I asked. There was no response, but I continued: 'Check out this link to the hand-drawn maps. Those things are hilarious. Can you believe that's all they get?'

I remained in my own little world for a few moments, staring at photos and marveling at the insanity of the event. I was so consumed that I failed to notice Mike's response: 'You're thinking of doing it, aren't you?'

Carved by God, Cursed by the Devil

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:59 AM




A page I'm starting to get the overlords at EveTushnet.com to stop $#@! bugging me


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