Wednesday, October 31, 2012
( 10:59 AM ) The Rat
AMERICA'S MOST EXPENSIVE STORMS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:59 AM
( 9:54 AM ) The Rat
SKELETAL REMAINS FOUND IN UPENDED TREE, via IKM. This town is just full of surprises.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:54 AM
( 9:27 AM ) The Rat
THE CREATIVE PROCESS, via MC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:27 AM
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
( 11:41 PM ) The Rat
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THESE TWO BRAINS? via IKM.
Neurologists are beginning to understand exactly how a baby's interaction with their mother determines how, and indeed whether, the brain grows in the way that it should. Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, who has surveyed the scientific literature and has made significant contributions to it, stresses that the growth of brain cells is a "consequence of an infant's interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother]." The growth of the baby’s brain "literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant. The development of cerebral circuits depends on it."
Prof Schore points out that if a baby is not treated properly in the first two years of life, the genes for various aspects of brain function, including intelligence, cannot operate, and may not even come into existence. Nature and nurture cannot be disentangled: the genes a baby has will be profoundly affected by the way it is treated...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:41 PM
( 10:06 PM ) The Rat
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TETRIS, via WC.
The writer Jeffrey Goldsmith was so obsessed with Tetris that he wrote a famous article asking if the game’s creator Alexey Pajitnov had invented "a pharmatronic?"—a video game with the potency of an addictive drug. Some people say that after playing the game for hours they see falling blocks in their dreams or buildings move together in the street—a phenomenon known as the Tetris Effect. Such is its mental pull, there’s even been the suggestion that the game might be able to prevent flashbacks in people with PTSD.
I had my own Tetris phase, when I was a teenager, and spent more hours than I should have trying to align the falling blocks in rows. Recently, I started thinking about why games like Tetris are so compelling. My conclusion? It's to do with a deep-seated psychological drive to tidy up.
Many human games are basically ritualised tidying up. Snooker, or pool if you are non-British, is a good example. The first person makes a mess (the break) and then the players take turns in potting the balls into the pockets, in a vary particular order. Tetris adds a computer-powered engine to this basic scenario—not only must the player tidy up, but the computer keeps throwing extra blocks from the sky to add to the mess. It looks like a perfect example of a pointless exercise—a game that doesn't teach us anything useful, has no wider social or physical purpose, but which weirdly keeps us interested...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:06 PM
( 7:09 PM ) The Rat
SOUTH FERRY SUBWAY STATION, POST-SANDY.
The video footage here is nuts.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:09 PM
( 6:01 PM ) The Rat
CHINESE STATE NEWSPAPER BLASTS NYT OVER WEN STORY.
The People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, said Monday in a combative article in its Chinese-language edition that the Times could not be trusted because of its history of "faking" and "distorting" news...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:01 PM
( 5:41 PM ) The Rat
WHEN SHE SAYS 'IT' NOT YOU, IT'S ME,' IT'S PROBABLY YOU.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:41 PM
( 3:32 PM ) The Rat
HURRICANE SANDY TRANSIT TRACKER, via IKM. Continuously updated.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:32 PM
( 3:29 PM ) The Rat
NOW THE RATS ARE SINKING THE LEAKING SHIP, via AB.
While the massive population of New York City is awfully impacted by Sandy, there is a more populous and even more caustic population that is struggling with the aftermath: Rats! As Forbes notes, the NYC Subway is notorious for its rat population and with all five subway tubes now submerged, one can only imagine where these cute cuddly rabies-wielding devil rodents will make their new homes...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:29 PM
( 1:15 PM ) The Rat
HEE!!—mainly the last panel.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:15 PM
( 9:06 AM ) The Rat
21 QUICK TRICKS TO FEEL BETTER INSTANTLY.
Can't remember exactly how I found this, but it's surprisingly good.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:06 AM
( 7:59 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:59 AM
( 7:23 AM ) The Rat
TEA BREAK, via Londonist.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:23 AM
( 7:15 AM ) The Rat
AS A POSTSCRIPT to Julie Park's article—there are some excellent points in this (roundup of the study's findings here). The APA also has a good fact sheet here (even I hadn't known that it's not Asian-American but American-Indian/Alaskan Native women who win the dubious honor of being the demographic with the highest suicide rate).
Michel Martin. Can I ask Jen—forgive me, can I ask Jen? When you talk about culturally competent care, Jen, and since you've been very kind to disclose some of your own struggles with us, and we appreciate that, can you talk about what would culturally competent care look like, or what's the difference, if you can give me an example of how that makes a difference.
Jen Wang. You know, I can only speak from my own experience, but you know, I feel very American and very assimilated, having been born in this country and raised in Texas. But at the same time, there are these moments where you feel like you have to explain this other culture that you come from because, you know, sometimes when you talk to a traditionally trained, Western psychotherapist about your Asian parents, who tend to be tough and strict and put a lot of pressure on their children, some psychotherapists are just horrified and they think wow, your parents are awful. You know, it's like "Mommie Dearest." But you kind of have to fill in the gaps and say OK, well, this is where my parents came from. They grew up with war. They lost their families. They lost their homes. They lost their homelands, and you know, kind of fill it in for them so it doesn't just seem like your parents are evil and controlling and demanding.
We were joking that you go in with mommy issues, and you end up defending your mom, you know?
Jen Wang. Or, it's like you go in with depression, and then you end up feeling like you're Amy Tan, and you're a storyteller, and your therapist is so enraptured with what you're saying about, you know, with these sweeping, epic stories that your parents have experienced that they stop treating you.
Michel Martin. Oh dear.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:15 AM
Monday, October 29, 2012
( 9:55 PM ) The Rat
"WHEN I FINALLY GOT MY PH.D., I ASKED MY MOTHER, 'ARE YOU PROUD OF ME NOW?' HER RESPONSE WAS, 'WE NEVER ASKED FOR THAT.' THIS HAS NOT BEEN GOOD FOR OUR RELATIONSHIP." Julie Park's "On Tiger Moms," via MG, will improve your understanding of every Asian-American friend or lover you've ever had. (And yes, before you ask—I have totally had the "Why can't you just talk things through?" question. It's always, always, from Jews.)
The nature of the differences between Asian Americans and their immigrant parents entails that conflict cannot be resolved through the channels taken for granted by Western families, such as negotiation and reasoned dialogue (like I said before, colorful and sustained displays of emotion and violence are the more effective and accepted means of getting through to the other). Once, when I had a particularly bad argument with my mother—we hadn't talked for months—a concerned relative of my husband's asked, "Why can’t you just sit down at the table and talk things through?" What he couldn't fathom was that that would have been impossible. To sit down at the table with me would have been, for my mother, an admission of defeat. Ahab and Moby Dick do not sit down at the table and talk things through!
Some children do live more or less according to their parents' ethos. I know a Chinese American student who came from a family of doctors and was happy to follow in their footsteps and enroll at Harvard Medical School. But many Asian Americans can imitate their parents only by suppressing their real values. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer believed that most human beings are doomed to be unhappy but that nature nevertheless produces a few people who are genuinely happy, who serve as "decoys" and who make people even more miserable by creating the illusion that happiness is possible. The children who genuinely adopt their parents' ethos, like this Chinese American legacy doctor, are the Schopenhauerian "decoys" of the Asian American community.
The easiest alternative is to pretend. Keeping up appearances while sneaking around behind our parents’ backs is a long and cherished tradition within the Asian American community. The most resourceful children, typically daughters, know there are many shades of acceptable pretense. It is simple enough, for example, to put on a show of obeisance in the presence of one's parents and then turn around and do whatever the hell one pleases as soon as they are out of sight. Some families have a kind of "don’t ask, don't tell" policy. Or one can simply lie. What may appear as "Asian" hypocrisy and sneakiness from the outside is often the only solution to a desperate situation: parents are appeased; children get some breathing room; harmony reigns; everyone wins. All it takes is a little creativity. I have a Korean American friend whose boyfriend moved in with her for two years without her parents' knowledge or consent. This meant that for two years her boyfriend could never answer the phone, for fear that it might be her parents calling. Whenever her parents visited, they had to evacuate his possessions and erase all trace of his presence from their apartment. She explained, "It's better that way. They didn't need to know. They didn't want to know. Why stir up conflict? Later we got engaged and then married. So it all worked out"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:55 PM
( 3:31 PM ) The Rat
"THEY LOOK PRETTY PUMPED." How Google Street-Viewed the Grand Canyon.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:31 PM
( 1:32 PM ) The Rat
NORTH KOREAN ARMY MINISTER 'EXECUTED WITH MORTAR ROUND.'
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:32 PM
( 12:06 PM ) The Rat
ART INDUSTRY NEEDS WHISKEY, via Modern Drunkard Magazine.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:06 PM
( 11:28 AM ) The Rat
SEX IS CHEAP: WHY YOUNG MEN HAVE THE UPPER HAND IN BED, EVEN WHEN THEY'RE FAILING IN LIFE, via AB.
We keep hearing that young men are failing to adapt to contemporary life. Their financial prospects are impaired—earnings for 25- to 34-year-old men have fallen by 20 percent since 1971. Their college enrollment numbers trail women's: Only 43 percent of American undergraduates today are men. Last year, women made up the majority of the work force for the first time. And yet there is one area in which men are very much in charge: premarital heterosexual relationships.
When attractive women will still bed you, life for young men, even those who are floundering, just isn't so bad. This isn't to say that all men direct the course of their relationships. Plenty don't. But what many young men wish for—access to sex without too many complications or commitments—carries the day. If women were more fully in charge of how their relationships transpired, we'd be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on. Instead, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (which collects data well into adulthood), none of these things is occurring. Not one.The terms of contemporary sexual relationships favor men and what they want in relationships, not just despite the fact that what they have to offer has diminished, but in part because of it. And it's all thanks to supply and demand...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:28 AM
( 11:00 AM ) The Rat
Once, around the age of thirty-five, when he fell ill in Vienna, an astute observer made a comment about him at a social gathering: 'You know, Aschenbach has always lived like this'—the speaker made a tight fist with his left hand—'but never like this'—and he let his open hand dangle comfortably from the arm of his chair. This remark was apt, and Aschenbach's stance was all the more valiant and ethical for his nature was such that his anything but robust constitution was only called upon for constant exertion, but not truly born for it.
—Death in Venice
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:00 AM
( 8:49 AM ) The Rat
"What do you want? What do you want?" he repeated to himself.
"What do I want? To live and not to suffer," he answered.
And again he listened with such concentrated attention that even his pain did not distract him.
"To live? How?" asked his inner voice.
"Why, to live as I used to—well and pleasantly."
"As you lived before, well and pleasantly?" the voice repeated.
And in imagination he began to recall the best moments of his pleasant life. But strange to say none of those best moments of his pleasant life now seemed at all what they had then seemed—none of them except the first recollections of childhood. There, in childhood, there had been something really pleasant with which it would be possible to live if it could return. But the child who had experienced that happiness existed no longer, it was like a reminiscence of somebody else.
As soon as the period began which had produced the present Ivan Ilych, all that had then seemed joys now melted before his sight and turned into something trivial and often nasty.
And the further he departed from childhood and the nearer he came to the present the more worthless and doubtful were the joys.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:49 AM
( 8:15 AM ) The Rat
WHY THINGS FAIL: FROM TIRES TO HELICOPTER BLADES, EVERYTHING BREAKS EVENTUALLY, via WC.
The facility is a monument to a dark truth of manufacturing: Even the best-engineered products fail. Some percentage of all mechanical devices will break before they're expected to. "Companies come to me and say they want to be 100 percent failure-free after three years," says Fred Schenkelberg, whose firm, FMS Reliability, estimates the lifespan of products. "But that's impossible. You can't do it."
Consider a few recent examples. In 2009, Mohawk Industries—one of the largest makers of carpeting in the country—was forced to discontinue an entire line of carpet tiles when the tiles failed unexpectedly, costing the company millions. In 2010, Johnson & Johnson had to recall 93,000 artificial hips after their metal joints started failing—inside patients. In 2011, Southwest Airlines grounded 79 planes after one of its Boeing 737s tore open in midflight. And just this past summer, GE issued a recall of 1.3 million dishwashers due to a defective heating element that could cause fires. Unexpected failure happens to everything, and so every manufacturer lives with some amount of risk: the risk of recalls, the risk of outsize warranty claims, the risk that a misbehaving product could hurt or kill a customer.
This is why the sprawling hangar-size rooms of Ford's Building 4 are full of machines. Machines that open and close doors, robots that rub padded appendages on seats, treadmills that spin tires until they erupt in a cloud of white smoke. There's even a giant bay where an entire Ford pickup is held up in the air by pistons that violently shake the vehicle by its suspension. Officially, Building 4 is about reliability, but it's actually more about inevitability. Ford isn't trying to ensure the gas-pedal hinge will never break. The company knows it will break; its engineers are trying to understand when—and how and why—this will happen.
Product failure is deceptively difficult to understand. It depends not just on how customers use a product but on the intrinsic properties of each part—what it's made of and how those materials respond to wildly varying conditions. Estimating a product's lifespan is an art that even the most sophisticated manufacturers still struggle with. And it's getting harder. In our Moore's law-driven age, we expect devices to continuously be getting smaller, lighter, more powerful, and more efficient. This thinking has seeped into our expectations about lots of product categories: Cars must get better gas mileage. Bicycles must get lighter. Washing machines need to get clothes cleaner with less water. Almost every industry is expected to make major advances every year. To do this they are constantly reaching for new materials and design techniques. All this is great for innovation, but it's terrible for reliability...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:15 AM
( 8:13 AM ) The Rat
"A BUILDING DESIGNED TO BE USED BY 75,000 PEOPLE PER DAY NOW ROUTINELY HANDLES TEN TIMES THAT NUMBER WITH UP TO A MILLION ON PEAK DAYS." A Grand Central Terminal for the Next Hundred Years. Also: "Who needs physics when you have interns and ecstasy?"
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:13 AM
( 1:02 AM ) The Rat
"A CONSTANT FEELING THAT THE WORLD ISN'T SAFE." Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:02 AM
Sunday, October 28, 2012
( 12:30 PM ) The Rat
'IT'S FEMINIST... ALTHOUGH I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN EXACTLY HOW.' Perhaps the Most WTF Wedding Dress Ever, via EP. Don't miss the comment by "Maxwell Chance."
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:30 PM
Friday, October 26, 2012
( 5:55 PM ) The Rat
'Well, well... what do we have here?'
'Uh, components. They're bomb parts, signatures.'
'Yeah, I see that, but what they doing under your bed?'
'Well... Ah-ha, there we go, this one... This one is from the U.N. building. Flaming car, dead man's switch... boom. This guy was great, I like him. Ah... Look at this one. This one, y'all, is from our first call together. This box is full of stuff that almost killed me.'
'And what about this one? Where's this one from, Will?'
'My wedding ring. Like I said, stuff that almost killed me.'
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:55 PM
( 2:01 PM ) The Rat
THEY REALLY HAVE all kinds of articles over at eHow.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:01 PM
( 1:51 PM ) The Rat
THIS BOOKEND IS SO MINIMALIST YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE IT. Cute idea, though not at the price. More affordably, you could do this, though I can't help thinking that either way you'd likely damage your books.
Cocksedge claims to be exploring the question "would you want to own something, when all you can see is what it does, not what it is?"
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:51 PM
( 12:05 PM ) The Rat
"I READ A STORY ONCE ABOUT A WOMAN WHO OVERCAME HER VAGINISMUS BY DRUGGING HERSELF SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK, AND ALLOWING HER HUSBAND TO HAVE SEX WITH HER UNCONSCIOUS BODY." Why I Didn't Have Sex Until I Was 27, via Nerve, a moving account of a too-little-understood/discussed condition.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:05 PM
( 10:43 AM ) The Rat
I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:43 AM
( 10:15 AM ) The Rat
NO KIDDING. Incidentally, whenever I see the phrase "individuals with no history of anxiety or depression" I'm invariably thinking: Who the fuck are these people?!
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:15 AM
( 9:01 AM ) The Rat
THIS is exactly why, when I read Brian Tong's quote in this article the other day, my immediate thought was, "Don't you mean 'overestimate'?"
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:01 AM
( 7:33 AM ) The Rat
WHOA, Reddit being actually useful for something.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:33 AM
( 7:21 AM ) The Rat
WORLD'S BEST SKI TOWNS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:21 AM
( 7:08 AM ) The Rat
'If you love me as you say you do,' she whispered, 'make it so that I am at peace.'
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:08 AM
( 5:39 AM ) The Rat
'We are of two different kinds,' the older waiter said. He was now dressed to go home. 'It is not only a question of youth and confidence although those things are very beautiful. Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be some one who needs the cafe.'
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:39 AM
Thursday, October 25, 2012
( 11:08 PM ) The Rat
'I WAS COLDLY ACCUSED OF VIRTUALLY EVERY SIN UNDER THE SUN. DRUNKENNESS (TRUE) MENDACITY (TRUE) BEING BORING (TRUE) INFIDELITY (UNTRUE) KILLING MYSELF FAIRLY QUICKLY (TRUE) PRIDE ENVY AVARICE (ALL TRUE) BEING UGLY (TRUE) HAVING ONCE BEEN HANDSOME (UNTRUE).' Tripping over my own fingers to order a copy of The Richard Burton Diaries, reviewed here by the Times.
Taylor is in her late 30s in most of these entries; he is in his mid-40s. "E is my only ism," Burton writes. "Elizabethism." While she was away, he noted, "I miss her like food." He calls Taylor "an eternal one-night stand" and "beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography." He declares, "She is a prospectus that can never be entirely cataloged, an almanac for Poor Richard"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:08 PM
( 1:46 PM ) The Rat
YOU DON'T OWN THE BOOKS ON YOUR KINDLE.
But when Nygaard attempted to log into her Amazon account the next day, her account was suspended—and with it access to her library of 43 books.
Those friendly phone-based customer support folks couldn't access Nygaard's account either, and she was passed on to "account specialists" who only communicated via email. That's when things took a Kafkaesque turn. A man named Michael Murphy with Amazon UK's "Executive Customer Relations" told Nygaard her account had been determined to be "directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies." Which policies? He wouldn't say. What other account? Murphy wouldn't share that, either.
Instead, Murphy would only pass on this shrilly authoritarian boilerplate:
Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: Amazon.co.uk and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.
Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:46 PM
( 10:04 AM ) The Rat
WHY CHINA LACKS GANGNAM STYLE, via MC.
The Korean satirist PSY might not put it in such solemn terms, but that's exactly what he has done, and he has been rewarded for it. In China, some artists have looked on enviously. In a comic strip highlighted by China Digital Times, the cartoonist known as Peaceful House Pearl Shimao envisioned a Chinese-style Gangnam phenomenon he called "Shanghai Style." Instead of being celebrated for his madness, the dancer ends up being sent to a mental institution for "involvement in multiple activities," "running crazily all over the place," and being a pig.
For now, China's Gangnam moment seems far off. "In China, culture and the arts develop under the watchful eye of the government, and anything too hip or interesting gets either shut down or bought up. In Korea, by contrast, artists and entertainers thrive in a space that is highly commercialized but also pretty much free of the heavy hand of the state," Delury told me, adding, "I kid government officials that the moment they understand why K-pop is so successful and try to replicate it, they will destroy it."
Also see the Atlantic's excellent Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea's Music Video Sensation, from August.
One of the first things Hong pointed to in explaining the video's subtext was, believe it or not, South Korea's sky-high credit card debt rate. In 2010, the average household carried credit card debt worth a staggering 155 percent of their disposable income (for comparison, the U.S. average just before the sub-prime crisis was 138 percent). There are nearly five credit cards for every adult. South Koreans have been living on credit since the mid-1990s, first because their country's amazing growth made borrowing seem safe, and then in the late 1990s when the government encouraged private spending to climb out of the Asian financial crisis. The emphasis on heavy spending, coupled with the country's truly astounding, two-generation growth from agrarian poverty to economic powerhouse, have engendered the country with an emphasis on hard work and on aspirationalism, as well as the materialism that can sometimes follow.
Gangnam, Hong said, is a symbol of that aspect of South Korean culture. The neighborhood is the home of some of South Korea's biggest brands, as well as $84 billion of its wealth, as of 2010. That's seven percent of the entire country's GDP in an area of just 15 square miles. A place of the most conspicuous consumption, you might call it the embodiment of South Korea's one percent. "The neighborhood in Gangnam is not just a nice town or nice neighborhood. The kids that he's talking about are not Silicon Valley self-made millionaires. They're overwhelmingly trust-fund babies and princelings," he explained.
This skewering of the Gangnam life can be easy to miss for non-Korean. Psy boasts that he's a real man who drinks a whole cup of coffee in one gulp, for example, insisting he wants a women who drinks coffee. "I think some of you may be wondering why he's making such a big deal out of coffee, but it's not your ordinary coffee," U.S.-based Korean blogger Jea Kim wrote at her site, My Dear Korea. "In Korea, there's a joke poking fun at women who eat 2,000-won (about $2) ramen for lunch and then spend 6,000 won on Starbucks coffee." They're called Doenjangnyeo, or "soybean paste women" for their propensity to crimp on essentials so they can over-spend on conspicuous luxuries, of which coffee is, believe it or not, one of the most common. "The number of coffee shops has gone up tremendously, particularly in Gangnam," Hong said. "Coffee shops have become the place where people go to be seen and spend ridiculous amounts of money."
The video is "a satire about Gangnam itself but also it's about how people outside Gangnam pursue their dream to be one of those Gangnam residents without even realizing what it really means," Kim explained to me when I got in touch with her. Koreans "really wanted to be one of them," but she says that feeling is changing, and "Gangnam Style" captures people's ambivalence...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:04 AM
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
( 10:29 PM ) The Rat
BROTHEL, FUNERAL HOME BAIL OUT GREEK SOCCER CLUBS. Hee!
Further north in the city of Trikala, the Palaiopyrgos club—many of whose players still attend school—have signed a deal with a funeral home.
"For us it was a matter of survival," manager Lefteris Vassiliou told Greek radio, saying the team had not been able to secure any sponsorship since Europe's debt crisis erupted here three years ago.
Despite the macabre attire—black jerseys with the undertaker's logo and a large white cross down the middle—Vassiliou said the players had taken it well, and it had even given them an advantage over their opponents.
Recounting a recent match, he said: "The goalkeeper kept crossing himself, our competitors lost every play. It seems they were too scared to come near us."
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:29 PM
( 9:51 PM ) The Rat
STAR WARS DEATH STAR TEA INFUSER. I don't even know what to say about this.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:51 PM
( 5:10 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:10 PM
( 1:57 PM ) The Rat
"DOESN'T SOUND VERY LUTHERAN TO ME. YOU'RE GOING BECAUSE THOSE GIRLS ALL WEAR THE THONG-PANTS, AREN'T YOU?" 10 Things You Can't Explain to Your Grandmother.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:57 PM
( 1:55 PM ) The Rat
UPSIDE-DOWN SNOWMAN INSTRUCTIONS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:55 PM
( 6:41 AM ) The Rat
POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM. Dang this looks cool. Mark your calendars, anyone lucky enough to be in London between March 28-September 29.
The exhibition centres around the 'domestic realities' of daily life using objects recovered from what were two typical Roman cities, situated near the heart of the empire.
Visitors will view everyday objects such as a child's crib, turned to charcoal by the intense heat of the volcano, a loaf of bread, complete with scored segments and the stamp of its baker, and even preserved figs.
Nothing is deemed too pedestrian either, including the 1st Century peppercorn, from India, unearthed in one of Herculaneum's drains...
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:41 AM
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
( 3:22 PM ) The Rat
14 PHOTOGRAPHS THAT SHATTER YOUR IMAGE OF FAMOUS PEOPLE. Yikes.
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:22 PM
( 2:55 PM ) The Rat
MAN'S LIFE RIDDLED WITH CONTINUITY ERRORS. Yeah, no comment.
According to sources, Hammond's life began with a fairly conventional childhood, but quickly grew jumbled after his father abruptly disappeared and was replaced by a different man without any valid reasons offered for why the original father left in the first place.
During his teenage years, Hammond reportedly cycled wildly between appearances, attitudes, and interests that obviously contradicted one another, and many have noted an apparent inconsistency in the chronology of his adolescence: While Hammond thoroughly expounds early on about the details of his first sexual encounter, the actual event occurs three years later, and under completely different circumstances than those he describes.
Since then, onlookers reported, events in Hammond's life have proceeded vaguely and clumsily, with long stretches in which it is impossible to tell what is even motivating him.
"At one point, he's in college studying anthropology and you think his life is going to be about that, but next thing you know, he's working full-time as a waiter," observer Richard Siegal said. "Then out of the blue you find out that what he really wants to do is get into marketing, and suddenly he's back in college again. It makes no sense."
"And there's the big speech he gives his parents about how his life's passion is for community organizing, but you never hear anything about that again," Siegal added. "It's like, why even introduce it in the first place?"
Sources also noted that, between the ages of 23 and 28, Hammond's life "meanders aimlessly," with incongruous jumps between the town where he grew up, odd jobs in Southern California, and a mysterious monthlong trip to Italy, leaving observers confused and unsure if Hammond's life will ever be resolved in an intelligible and satisfying way.
"I'm fine suspending my disbelief on some things, but a random five-year gap where nothing happens? No thanks," Jess Harnwell said. "And it's not some cool experimental thing, either. It's just dumb and poorly executed"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:55 PM
( 8:05 AM ) The Rat
THIS is what I think when people use Instagram too.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:05 AM
Monday, October 22, 2012
( 6:19 PM ) The Rat
IRA GLASS MAKES BALLOON ANIMALS in between answering questions from teenage girls.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:19 PM
( 4:11 PM ) The Rat
SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT VALENTINE'S DAY GIFT.
"If you like the odd bits and pieces, I think I've got something else you might enjoy." The taxidermist retreated to the area behind his desk, and pulled a plastic bag off an overhead shelf. It was, I noticed, from Waitrose, a grocery store described to me upon my move to England as "a cut above." From the bag he removed what looked like a platter with an oblong glass dome over it. Inside was a man's forearm, complete with little hairs and a smudged tattoo. The taxidermist said, completely unnecessarily, "Now, there’s a story behind this." For what human limb in a Waitrose bag is not without some sort of story?
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:11 PM
( 4:00 PM ) The Rat
"IT'S A PANONO." I'm not sure any prior Sandwich Monday has evoked such an immediate, visceral response. Don't click! Save yourselves!
Blythe. This Kraft Single is more like Kraft Single-with-seven-cats.
Eva. A word of warning: do not dunk this in coffee.
Robert. Goes great with the insulinccino though.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:00 PM
( 9:17 AM ) The Rat
MY 6,128 FAVORITE BOOKS, via WC.
I wish I still had the actual copies of the books that saved my life—"Kidnapped," "The Three Musketeers," "The Iliad for Precocious Tykes"—but they vanished over the years. Because so many of these treasures from my childhood have disappeared, I have made a point of hanging on to every book I have bought and loved since the age of 21.
Books as physical objects matter to me, because they evoke the past. A Métro ticket falls out of a book I bought 40 years ago, and I am transported back to the Rue Saint-Jacques on Sept. 12, 1972, where I am waiting for someone named Annie LeCombe. A telephone message from a friend who died too young falls out of a book, and I find myself back in the Chateau Marmont on a balmy September day in 1995. A note I scribbled to myself in "Homage to Catalonia" in 1973 when I was in Granada reminds me to learn Spanish, which I have not yet done, and to go back to Granada.
None of this will work with a Kindle. People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, not merely an electronic version, believe that the objects themselves are sacred. Some people may find this attitude baffling, arguing that books are merely objects that take up space. This is true, but so are Prague and your kids and the Sistine Chapel. Think it through, bozos.
The world is changing, but I am not changing with it. There is no e-reader or Kindle in my future. My philosophy is simple: Certain things are perfect the way they are. The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:17 AM
Sunday, October 21, 2012
( 2:40 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:40 PM
Saturday, October 20, 2012
( 5:11 PM ) The Rat
"LOTS OF PEOPLE HAVE THE GOOD SENSE NOT TO TALK ON THE RADIO." Salon roundup of some of Ira Glass's answers on Ask Me Anything a couple weeks back. (For the full thing, go here.) An especial yikes to that last question/answer!
While we're on the subject: Hee!
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:11 PM
( 12:00 PM ) The Rat
As soon as I began to eat moderately, the reasons I overate became all too clear. I found that I ate over uncomfortable emotions. In fact, I ate over emotions of all kinds. My eating triggers were hardly limited to bad feelings. Happiness, joy, excitement—stimuli of all kinds—also sent me running for the refrigerator.
What's more, I wasn't just eating over feelings in the moment; I was eating over feelings that were ancient.
Deep, unresolved conflicts lingered from my childhood. Because I'd processed events by eating them out of my consciousness, I had never resolved the majority of my experiences. As my friend says, "When we bury our emotions, we bury them alive." I was stunned to find that all the things I thought I'd avoided—high school shame, sadness over relationships, anger at my parents, jealousy of my younger brother—were waiting patiently for me, sometimes for decades. My mind was like a bus stop in the Twilight Zone. The buses never came, but my feelings lined up for tickets and stayed forever. They smoked cigarettes and ordered from the café, waiting patiently for me to come by and pick them up.
Once I stopped overeating, I had a lifetime of feelings still waiting for their turn to take a ride.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 PM
Friday, October 19, 2012
( 12:31 PM ) The Rat
"IT ALL GOT PRETTY PAINFUL IN THE THIRD ACT WHEN BOTH WOMEN WERE LAYING ON THE FLOOR SCREAMING ABOUT NOT HAVING BABIES. THAT WAS THE ONLY TIME I FELT LIKE I WAS WATCHING A PLAY, BECAUSE EVERYTHING GOT WAY TOO DRAMATIC." Bros on Broadway: A Dude in a Relationship Sees Virginia Woolf, via JZ.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:31 PM
( 1:57 AM ) The Rat
LOTS OF NIFTY STUFF in this profile of Tim Wilson's work.
The kind of narratives we create for ourselves also work in mysterious ways, Wilson shows. For example, a study asked a group of happily married people to write about how they met each other. But another group of happy couples was asked to write a story in which they imagined what their life would be like if they had never met their spouse, something Wilson and his colleagues call the "George Bailey" technique after the movie It's a Wonderful Life, in which an angel shows George what the world would have been like without him.
Wilson notes that common sense might predict that the ones asked to dwell on how they met would feel happier. "After all," writes Wilson, "who wants to dwell on the fact that they could have easily missed the party at which they met their future husband or wife?"
However, the people in the George Bailey group, the ones who imagined not meeting their beloved spouse reported a greater feeling of happiness in their relationships than the participants who had simply re-told their love stories. Their love stories, Wilson found, became "surprising and special again, and maybe a little mysterious—the very conditions that prolong the pleasure we get from the good things in life"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:57 AM
( 12:18 AM ) The Rat
I'm also 47, and I also have cancer, and thanks to David, I can articulate why I don't think, Why me?... but today, I do think, Why him?
—reader comment on Linda Holmes's tribute, published just after Rakoff's death on August 9
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:18 AM
Thursday, October 18, 2012
( 11:11 PM ) The Rat
THIS just made me laugh so loudly it could've been heard outside my building. Via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:11 PM
( 7:18 PM ) The Rat
"SOME OF THE MORE COLORFUL DIAGNOSES THEY CAME UP WITH INCLUDE: PATHOLOGICAL JEALOUSY, MEXICAN WAR EXCITEMENT, RELIGIOUS ANXIETY AND A LITTLE-KNOWN AILMENT CALLED 'HUSBAND IN CALIFORNIA.'" 7 Gross Wonders Across America, via IKM.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:18 PM
( 6:04 PM ) The Rat
CREATIVITY 'CLOSELY ENTWINED WITH MENTAL ILLNESS,' via SV.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:04 PM
( 4:07 PM ) The Rat
I THOUGHT IT WAS A DOCUMENTARY! via ATIAC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:07 PM
( 4:03 PM ) The Rat
"ONE MORNING WE WERE DELAYED TO ALLOW A LARGE SARCOPHAGUS TO BE REMOVED FROM A PARKED VAN..." A Sight at the Opera, via the NYT.
Six burly workers carefully lifted the heavy sarcophagus, placed it carefully on their shoulders, three on each side, and marched with slow, measured steps across the sidewalk and up the ramp through the stage door.
Two more men, flanking the entrance, respectfully doffed their caps and lowered their heads as the cortege passed into the building. As they replaced their hats, one of them announced so that we all could hear, "I didn't even know she was sick!"
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:03 PM
( 2:01 PM ) The Rat
HOW TO MAKE A KINDLE CASE OUT OF A VINTAGE HARDCOVER.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:01 PM
( 1:43 PM ) The Rat
NEWSWEEK GOES AWAY AND SCHIAPARELLI'S COMING BACK! Clearly, I was wrong when I thought the future was going to completely suck.
In their heyday, Coco Chanel dismissed Schiaparelli as "that Italian artist who makes clothes." Schiaparelli responded, equally cattily, calling Chanel "that milliner"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:43 PM
( 12:34 PM ) The Rat
"IT TASTES LIKE DIABETES." Taste Testing the Bagel Store's Candy Corn Bagels.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:34 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
( 11:59 AM ) The Rat
WORLD'S LARGEST GINGERBREAD HOUSE. Whoa.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:59 AM
( 10:21 AM ) The Rat
PARADISE, BUT WITH AN ASTERISK.
From all appearances, this place is still an earthly paradise. Here in the Bikinian Ancestral Cemetery, with its tidy white fence and weathered graves, the 3.4-square-mile island looks exactly as Alson describes it. The sky is a deep cobalt blue; coconut palms, orange-limbed and yellow-fringed, sway in the steady trade winds. There are still breadfruit trees and pandanus trees and flame trees with brilliant red blossoms. Two hundred yards to the north, a coral reef meets the full, transparent blue violence of the Pacific.
There is just one problem, though you could stare at this palm grove for a lifetime and never see it. The soil under our feet, whitish gray in color with flecks of coral, contains a radioactive isotope called cesium 137. In high enough doses, it can burn you and kill you quickly; at lower levels, it just takes longer to do the job, eventually causing cancer. The soil itself is not dangerous to touch. The danger lies in the plant life that takes it in, and in the animal life, like the huge coconut crabs that live on the island and eat the plants. The cesium 137 is fallout, a word introduced to the world during the systematic detonation, from 1946 to 1958, of 23 nuclear weapons by the U.S. army on Bikini Atoll.
Over the course of a nuclear exile that has lasted 66 years, the Bikinian people have been relocated five times. They have nearly starved to death. They have seen their way of life vanish. They have watched as nuclear scientists swarmed over their island, trying to figure out what the bombs had done to it. They have fought the U.S. government in legal battles all the way to the Supreme Court. Alson was part of a group of three extended families who moved back to the island in the 1970s after it had been declared safe. He lived the fantasy existence he describes for me, only to be told, after the discovery of the horrifying cesium 137, that he and his people had to leave.
And still men like Alson, a former mayor of the relocated Bikinians, most of whom now live in the Marshall Islands' capital, Majuro, and on the island of Kili, want to come back to the place they believe God gave them...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:21 AM
( 7:56 AM ) The Rat
MEET MANSA MUSA I OF MALI—THE RICHEST HUMAN BEING IN ALL HISTORY (though there's some dispute about that in the comments).
Second on the list are the Rothschild family...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:56 AM
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
( 12:51 PM ) The Rat
REAL BOOK TEA, via IKM. It's driving my OCD nuts that that isn't how you spell Dorian Gray.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:51 PM
( 12:16 PM ) The Rat
MATTHEW ALBANESE'S STRANGE WORLDS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:16 PM
Monday, October 15, 2012
( 9:04 PM ) The Rat
RICHARD BURTON ON HOME.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:04 PM
( 6:21 PM ) The Rat
REPORTER STEPS IN TO REPLACE WOMAN'S MISSING HUSBAND, via the Onion.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:21 PM
( 9:00 AM ) The Rat
FORTYSOMETHING: A MIDTERM REPORT. Since I arrived at this state of mind the year I turned 30, that makes me precocious, right?
All I want for my birthday next week is an extra croissant for breakfast, and the half an hour in a café to reflect that is so rare in midlife. Though the phrase "middle aged" has become taboo, the early forties are now the actuarial halfway point for the professional classes. This calls for a midterm report on my generation.
Obviously, we're run off our feet. Sociologists call this stage the "rush hour of life," when career and family life are both at their busiest just as physical endurance slumps. That's partly why I’ll be celebrating alone with my croissant. In any case, friends have scattered across the globe and live as hostages to their children and spouses.
Frantic busyness has its upsides. Nowhere in my peer group have I witnessed a textbook midlife crisis. Nobody has the time. Anyway, my "Generation X" was never much given to fantasy. Our teenage soundtrack featured gloom merchants like The Smiths, we came of political age after all utopias had collapsed, and then graduated into recession. The dream among my peers isn't a Ferrari and a 22-year-old model. My last contemporary who still went to nightclubs—and got stared at as a freak—recently stopped. I don't know anyone who believes youth can be recaptured in some exhausting spree.
Rather, the dream now is of a cafè latte alone: a small victory in the struggle to preserve fragments of what Orwell called "ownlife" amid the onslaught of mortgage, toddlers, in-laws and physical decline...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:00 AM
Sunday, October 14, 2012
( 6:12 PM ) The Rat
BOLIVIA'S SALAR DE UYUNI CREATES WORLD'S LARGEST MIRROR.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:12 PM
( 3:54 PM ) The Rat
As you watch, a stranger walks into a room and sits down behind a table. He picks up a piece of paper and reads aloud a generic-sounding weather report: "Tomorrow, we'll see highs in the upper 80s with an overnight low of 53...." He completes his "report" in about 90 seconds and walks out of the room.
Next, you're asked to guess his IQ.
You're part of a psychology experiment, and you object to the absurdity of the request. I don't know anything about that guy. He just came into a room and read a report. It wasn't even his report—you gave it to him to read! How am I supposed to know his IQ!?
Reluctantly, you make a wild guess. Separately, Fake Weatherman is asked to guess his own IQ. Who made a better guess?
Amazingly, you did, even though you know nothing about Fake Weatherman. Two psychologists, Peter Borkenau and Anette Liebler, from Universität Bielefeld in Germany, conducted this experiment, and they found that the strangers' IQ predictions were better than the predictions of those whose IQ was being predicted—about 66 percent more accurate.
To be clear, it's not so much that you're a brilliant predictor; it's that he's a lousy self-evaluator. We're all lousy self-evaluators. College students do a superior job predicting the longevity of their roommates' romantic relationships than their own...
—Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:54 PM
( 12:59 PM ) The Rat
BEFORE A TEST, A POVERTY OF WORDS.
It is difficult to overstate the advantages arrogated to a child whose parent proceeds in a near constant mode of annotation. Reflexively, the affluent, ambitious parent is always talking, pointing out, explaining: Mommy is looking for her laptop; let's put on your rain boots; that's a pigeon, a sand dune, skyscraper, a pomegranate. The child, in essence, exists in continuous receipt of dictation.
Things are very different elsewhere on the class spectrum. Earlier in the year when I met Steven F. Wilson, founder of a network of charter schools that serve poor and largely black communities in Brooklyn, I asked him what he considered the greatest challenge on the first day of kindergarten each year. He answered, without a second's hesitation: "Word deficit." As it happens, in the '80s, the psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley spent years cataloging the number of words spoken to young children in dozens of families from different socioeconomic groups, and what they found was not only a disparity in the complexity of words used, but also astonishing differences in sheer number. Children of professionals were, on average, exposed to approximately 1,500 more words hourly than children growing up in poverty. This resulted in a gap of more than 32 million words by the time the children reached the age of 4...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:59 PM
( 7:45 AM ) The Rat
A COMPLETE LIST OF FACEBOOK EMOTICONS, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:45 AM
Saturday, October 13, 2012
( 11:43 PM ) The Rat
"BUT IF YOU FINISH FUCKING AND YOUR WOMAN WANT TO TALK ABOUT COMPUTER COMPONENTS, YOU GOT SOME MORE FUCKING TO DO." Richard Pryor on men's doubts about sex.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:43 PM
Friday, October 12, 2012
( 12:29 PM ) The Rat
THE 30 GREATEST MOMENTS IN THE HISTORY OF BATHTIME. I think the sloths and the otter are my favorites.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:29 PM
( 11:40 AM ) The Rat
NASA'S 5 FAVORITE PHOTOS OF EXTREME WEATHER.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:40 AM
( 10:50 AM ) The Rat
"ARTFULLY RENDERED SNAPSHOTS OF A LIFE GOING LAVISHLY ACCORDING TO PLAN." Pleased to Meet the Facebook Version of You, via WC.
The wit in your status updates is delightful. The real life version of you always seemed intent on cornering me into a night of drinking wine after work so I could listen to you go on rather humorlessly about money problems and the usual rash of petty resentments against family and colleagues. But the Facebook version of you is one languid little paragraph of blurted bon mots after another. Like last week when you typed:
"Sitting at the car dealer trying to figure out why I need fifteen thousand dollars worth of optional accessories. But I won't drive anything less than the new Infiniti… guess I was royalty in a past life :)"
This Facebook status update was a zinger compared to the previous week when your real life status update consisted of drinking a gallon and a half of Rosé at Loco Gordo's to the refrain of:
"I have to find a cheaper gym, I can't keep spending this much on my hair, Kevin is a dick, I have to find some ways of cutting back, I hate Jan, I'm screwed, I… am… screwed! Face it, we're all doomed."
Then you said you were too stressed out to eat your half of the cheese and shrimp stuffed roasted poblano appetizer we ordered. You just kept drinking wine. You said you don't like Mexicans. Two or three times, I think. You kind of yelled it, actually. At the waiter. Well, and then at the table next to us. And then to to nobody in particular; kind of to the ceiling of the restaurant. But I think it was the Rosé talking because The Facebook version of you likes three different multicultural organizations that endorse free trade and celebrate Hispanic arts and cuisine...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:50 AM
( 9:26 AM ) The Rat
DECADES OF MISS SUBWAYS SMILED ON NYC STRAPHANGERS. The companion book for the show, which opens later this month at the transit museum, is here and was funded, interestingly, through Kickstarter.
The contest reflected an evolving America. When it was launched, the war already was changing the role of women. From 1952 to 1962, the contest featured schoolteachers, stewardesses and suburban housewives; the next 10 years saw secretaries and airplane pilots.
The first African-American was crowned Miss Subways in 1948—long before Vanessa Williams was named Miss America in 1984—and the first Asian-American was honored in 1949.
"It was the first integrated and ethnically diverse beauty contest in America," representing working-class women, said Gardner, who was born the year the contest ended. "I realized I had stumbled on a piece of forgotten New York history"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:26 AM
( 6:32 AM ) The Rat
I know you've been married to the same woman for 69 years. That is marvelous. It must be very inexpensive.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:32 AM
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
( 2:15 PM ) The Rat
THE AMAZING IOS 6 MAPS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:15 PM
( 12:44 PM ) The Rat
MALALA YOUSAVZAI, TEENAGE SCHOOL ACTIVIST, SURVIVES TALIBAN ATTACK.
Mature beyond her years, she recently changed her career aspiration to politics, friends said. In recent months, she led a delegation of children’s rights activists, sponsored by Unicef, that made presentations to provincial politicians in Peshawar.
"We found her to be very bold, and it inspired every one of us," said another student in the group, Fatima Aziz, 15.
Ms. Minallah, the documentary maker, said, "She had this vision, big dreams, that she was going to come into politics and bring about change."
That such a figure of wide-eyed optimism and courage could be silenced by Taliban violence was a fresh blow for Pakistan’s beleaguered progressives, who seethed with frustration and anger on Tuesday. "Come on, brothers, be REAL MEN. Kill a school girl," one media commentator, Nadeem F. Paracha, said in an acerbic Twitter post...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:44 PM
( 10:18 AM ) The Rat
"THE GREAT NATIONAL HAPPINESS RAT RACE," via IKM.
Cynicism is the British shtick. When happiness does come our way, it is entirely without effort, as unmeritocratic as a hereditary peerage. By contrast, in America, happiness is work. Intense, nail-biting work, slogged out in motivational seminars and therapy sessions, meditation retreats and airport bookstores. For the left there's yoga, for the right, there's Jesus. For no one is there respite.
There is something joyless about the whole shindig. I live in California, where the Great American Search for Happiness has its headquarters. The notice board of the cafe where I write offers a revolving loop of different paths to bliss: Maum Meditation, TransDance, Chod Training and, most oddly, the drinking of wolf colostrum. Customers jot down the phone numbers earnestly, although statistically they'd be better off joining the Republican Party.
The people taking part in "happiness pursuits," as a rule, don't seem very happy. At the one and only yoga class I attended, shortly after arriving in the United States, the tension and misery in the room were palpable. Which makes sense, because a person who was already feeling happy would be unlikely to waste the sensation in a sweaty room at the Y.M.C.A., voluntarily contorting into uncomfortable positions. The happy person would be more likely to be off doing something fun, like sitting in the park drinking.
Since moving to the States just shy of a year ago, I have had more conversations about my own happiness than in the whole rest of my life. The subject comes up in the park pushing swings alongside a mother I met moments before, with the man behind the fish counter in the supermarket, with my gym instructor and with our baby sitter, who arrives to put our son to bed armed with pamphlets about a nudist happiness retreat in Northern California. While the British way can be drainingly negative, the American approach to happiness can spur a debilitating anxiety. The initial sense of promise and hope is seductive, but it soon gives way to a nagging slow-burn feeling of inadequacy. Am I happy? Happy enough? As happy as everyone else? Could I be doing more about it? Even basic contentment feels like failure when pitched against capital-H Happiness. The goal is so elusive and hard to define, it’s impossible to pinpoint when it’s even been achieved—a recipe for neurosis.
Happiness should be serendipitous, a by-product of a life well lived, and pursuing it in a vacuum doesn’t really work. This is borne out by a series of slightly depressing statistics. The most likely customer of a self-help book is a person who has bought another self-help book in the last 18 months. The General Social Survey, a prominent data-based barometer of American society, shows little change in happiness levels since 1972, when such records began. Every year, with remarkable consistency, around 33 percent of Americans report that they are "very happy." It's a fair chunk, but a figure that remains surprisingly constant, untouched by the uptick in Eastern meditation or evangelical Christianity, by Tony Robbins or Gretchen Rubin or attachment parenting. For all the effort Americans are putting into happiness, they are not getting any happier. It is not surprising, then, that the search itself has become a source of anxiety...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:18 AM
( 9:09 AM ) The Rat
"MOST OF THESE ENDED UP ISSUED TO NEW ZEALAND'S MILITARY." 7 Movies That Put Insane Detail into Stuff You Never Noticed, via SJ. These are all good, esp. 6 and 2.
Of course, this is all wasted effort, since clownfish are sequential hermaphrodites. So in the real world, after his wife was eaten by a barracuda, Nemo's dad would've just turned into a female and had sex with another clownfish, abandoning Nemo's half-crushed gimp egg to be eaten by a crab. Do your homework next time, Pixar...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:09 AM
( 8:54 AM ) The Rat
DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:54 AM
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
( 9:34 AM ) The Rat
THE CABINET OF ANIMOSITIES, a BBC documentary on the Museum of Broken Relationships comprised mostly of interviews with the donors of the museum's holdings.
FitzGerald. The museum was founded by two Zagreb-based friends, Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić. They had the idea in the middle of a painful breakup—from each other.
Vištica. The thing was how to—preserve at least one part of the beautiful things that were—not just a part of your life, but it becomes a part of your body, of your brain, or whatever, and you cannot just remove it surgically. Wouldn't it be great to have a place where you could store the part of your life that is not allowed to exist anymore? Something like a museum.
FitzGerald. Is it a museum of unhappy endings?
Grubišić. If our notion of love is of something that's everlasting, like fairy tales—then yeah, it's a museum of unhappy endings... But for me, most of these objects still talk of great love. It's just because of this temporary end part, you feel something different from what you felt before—it's not love, it's rage, it's anger—and you have this natural need to destroy everything. For me, it's a love museum...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:34 AM
( 8:11 AM ) The Rat
HOW SHINYA YAMANAKA TRANSFORMED THE STEM-CELL WAR, via WC.
Shinya Yamanaka, a scientist at Kyoto University, loved stem-cell research. But he didn't want to destroy embryos. So he figured out a way around the problem. In a paper published five years ago in Cell, Yamanaka and six colleagues showed how "induced pluripotent stem cells" could be derived from adult cells and potentially substituted, in research and therapy, for embryonic stem cells. Today, that discovery earned him a Nobel Prize, shared with British scientist John Gurdon. But the prize announcement and much of the media coverage missed half the story. Yamanaka's venture wasn't just an experiment. It was a moral project.
In the introduction to their Cell paper, Yamanaka and his colleagues outlined their reasons for seeking an alternative to conventional embryonic stem-cell research. "Ethical controversies" came first in their analysis. Technical reasons—the difficulty of making patient-specific embryonic stem cells—came second. After the paper's publication, Yamanaka told a personal story, related by the New York Times:
Inspiration can appear in unexpected places. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka found it while looking through a microscope at a friend's fertility clinic... [H]e looked down the microscope at one of the human embryos stored at the clinic. The glimpse changed his scientific career. "When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters," said Dr. Yamanaka... "I thought, we can't keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way."
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:11 AM
Monday, October 08, 2012
( 8:30 AM ) The Rat
THIS EXPLAINS SO MUCH! I've known about the first part for a long time, but not the last bit (about evaluations of other people). From Richard O'Connor's Undoing Depression.
[D]epressed people tend to be more accurate judges of themselves than "normal" people are. Asked to give an impromptu speech in front of an audience, then asked to rate their performance, people who are depressed tend to be more objective than the nondepressed; people who are not depressed tend to rate their performance more highly than objective observers do. Not that the depressed are objective; they have a negative bias and rate themselves lower than average. But the nondepressed are biased to rate themselves much higher than average, with a greater degree of error than the depressed.
Another example from the lab: college students are given a controller and asked to play a video game. What they don't know is that in actuality the controller doesn't work, and the video game is playing itself at random. The more depressed students are quicker to figure this out—they will turn to the experimenter and complain that the controller is broken--while nondepressed students will go on happily pushing buttons. They develop the illusion of control, while depressed people stick with what's called "depressive realism." It's as if most so-called normal people see the world through rose-colored glasses—certain comforting illusions that protect them from frustration and despair—while nondepressed people dispense with those illusions. Sadder but wiser.
But there's a complication. Although depressed people may evaluate themselves more accurately than the nondepressed, there is still a powerful negative bias. Plus, depressed people vastly overestimate the performance of others. Those impromptu speeches? Depressed people give others scores that are far too high compared to the norm. The same pattern is found when you ask people to estimate how socially accepted they are. Nondepressed people think that others like them, even if they don't; depressed people think that others don't like them, even if they do. They may view themselves a bit more accurately than nondepressed people, but they view others less accurately...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:30 AM
Sunday, October 07, 2012
( 9:23 PM ) The Rat
IT'S NOT AN ARGUMENT; IT'S A DISCUSSION.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:23 PM
( 4:21 PM ) The Rat
"A TRUE MPDG HAS TO BE LIKE THE GIRLS WHOM ALTERNATIVE MUSICIANS WROTE SONGS ABOUT IN THE '90S."
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:21 PM
Saturday, October 06, 2012
( 10:03 PM ) The Rat
AKRON CITY HALL EVACUATED AFTER MAN NAMED 'KABOOM' LEAVES WALKING STICK, via IKM.
An aluminum rod left in Akron City Hall caused an evacuation because someone had scrawled the word, "Kaboom" on it...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:03 PM
Friday, October 05, 2012
( 1:20 AM ) The Rat
We confuse depression, sadness, and grief. However, the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality—the ability to experience a full range of emotions, including happiness, excitement, sadness, and grief.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:20 AM
Thursday, October 04, 2012
( 5:42 PM ) The Rat
APPLE MAPS WREAK HAVOC WITH NEW YORKER COVER, via JWB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:42 PM
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
( 8:03 AM ) The Rat
WHY WE ARE SO RUDE ON FACEBOOK AND OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA.
In a third study, the professors gave participants a set of anagrams that were impossible to solve, as well as timed IQ tests, then measured how long it took them to give up trying to solve the problems. They found people who spent more time on Facebook were more likely to give up on difficult tasks more quickly. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:03 AM
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
( 10:52 PM ) The Rat
TO ENCOURAGE BIKING, CITIES FORGET ABOUT HELMETS, via multiple sources.
In the United States the notion that bike helmets promote health and safety by preventing head injuries is taken as pretty near God's truth. Un-helmeted cyclists are regarded as irresponsible, like people who smoke. Cities are aggressive in helmet promotion.
But many European health experts have taken a very different view: Yes, there are studies that show that if you fall off a bicycle at a certain speed and hit your head, a helmet can reduce your risk of serious head injury. But such falls off bikes are rare—exceedingly so in mature urban cycling systems.
On the other hand, many researchers say, if you force or pressure people to wear helmets, you discourage them from riding bicycles. That means more obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And—Catch-22—a result is fewer ordinary cyclists on the road, which makes it harder to develop a safe bicycling network. The safest biking cities are places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where middle-aged commuters are mainstay riders and the fraction of adults in helmets is minuscule.
"Pushing helmets really kills cycling and bike-sharing in particular because it promotes a sense of danger that just isn’t justified—in fact, cycling has many health benefits," says Piet de Jong, a professor in the department of applied finance and actuarial studies at Macquarie University in Sydney. He studied the issue with mathematical modeling, and concludes that the benefits may outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.
He adds: "Statistically, if we wear helmets for cycling, maybe we should wear helmets when we climb ladders or get into a bath, because there are lots more injuries during those activities." The European Cyclists' Federation says that bicyclists in its domain have the same risk of serious injury as pedestrians per mile traveled...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:52 PM
( 10:36 PM ) The Rat
FIND WATER ON THE GO.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:36 PM
( 9:27 AM ) The Rat
LONDON'S RUDEST STREET NAMES.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:27 AM
Monday, October 01, 2012
( 7:53 PM ) The Rat
"AND I SHOULD ALSO WARN VIEWERS THAT THIS IS THE FIFTH PAIR OF DETESTABLE FUCKS LIKE THIS I'VE SEEN TODAY." Hee!
The Onion Weather Center looks at New York City where heavy rain causes obnoxious loving couples to come out and walk around the city like a bunch of assholes who have never seen rain before...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:53 PM
( 6:56 PM ) The Rat
"HEY, CAN YOU TAKE A PHOTO OF US? IT'LL JUST TAKE A SECOND. HERE'S FOUR CELL PHONES," via The Oatmeal.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:56 PM