Thursday, January 31, 2013
( 8:24 PM ) The Rat
"ONE MARKETING MANAGER IN BANGKOK SAYS APPLE PRODUCTS HAVE BECOME LIKE LOUIS VUITTON HANDBAGS, SOMETHING THAT ONCE WAS CONSIDERED LUXE BUT NOW IS COMMONPLACE." Zing! Why Do Americans Hate Android and Love Apple? I'm a Mac and iPod (but Droid, thank goodness) user myself, but people who reflexively assume that all Apple products are invariably superior to the competition rather call up Peter Sagal's characterization of Justin Bieber: "the no. 1 sex symbol among people who don't know what sex is."
Nevertheless, in America, a noisy chorus of pro-Apple bloggers keeps repeating the mantra about Android being cheap and crappy and second-rate, and people keep believing it and insisting that they must have an iPhone. American consumers have been told that those Android smartphones are hard to use, or complicated, or geeky, or unreliable, and, worst of all, on top of all that, they're made for poor people.
And that's where the rhetoric starts to border on something ugly. Look at what Apple fans were saying in April 2012 when Instagram became available on Android. Cult of Mac had a nice roundup which included sneering tweets about Walmart and "poor peasants" and “riff raff" and "poor people," but also included these:
—"It's like when all the ghetto people started coming to the nice suburbs. Instagram was our nice lil suburb."
—"Instagram just got a whole lotta ghetto."
The italics are mine, and I've added them for a reason. Yes, it's the dreaded G word, and it comes up again in a Dec. 13, 2011 article by Glenn Derene, who wrote that "Android's Cheap, Low Quality Apps Make It Feel Like A Technological Ghetto."
Thank you, Apple fans, for bringing Karl Rove tactics to the world of tech.
Despite all this name-calling, Apple promoters still claim to have no idea why Android users resent them, or resent Apple. Confronted with the insults that they've been hurling at Android users, they effect a faux-naif posture of innocence and disingenuousness.
One example is a post that Apple fan Marco Arment just wrote lamenting what he sees as "Anti-Apple Anger," and wondering "What is it about Apple and its success that makes people so angry?"
Yes, indeed, why are those Android ghetto riff-raff so ticked off?
See, I don't think it's Apple's success that irks people.
I think it's that Android users are sick of being called stupid, poor and lacking in taste by a handful of smug, condescending posers.
I think it's that we don't don't like to see Android users depicted as homeless people sleeping on sidewalks.
I think it's that we don't like seeing Apple bloggers imply that Android's success doesn't really count because what—poor people don't count?
I think it's because some of us understand what that ghetto coded language is about, and when you start tossing it around we really don't want to be in your club anymore...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:24 PM
( 6:24 PM ) The Rat
WINTER IN KRAKOW, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:24 PM
( 6:03 PM ) The Rat
"IT COMES WITH ATMOSPHERIC FLAVOURS INCLUDING PRISTINE TIBET, POST-INDUSTRIAL TAIWAN AND REVOLUTIONARY YAN'AN." Fresh air goes on sale in smog-choked China, via Outside.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:03 PM
( 1:52 PM ) The Rat
CHINA'S ETHNIC MANCHUS REDISCOVERING THEIR ROOTS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:52 PM
( 1:17 PM ) The Rat
"RONALD LEFT THIS WORLD AS HE ENTERED IT: ON A FRIGID WINTER NIGHT, AMID FRANTIC SCREAMS AND BLOOD-SOAKED LINENS, WHILE RELATIVES STOOD NEARBY AND MUTTERED FURIOUS PROMISES TO FIND AND PUNISH THE MAN RESPONSIBLE." I seem to have missed the 2012 Bulwer-Lytton winners when they were announced last summer.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:17 PM
( 12:20 PM ) The Rat
GOD DIAGNOSED WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER.
Jurgens said he believes God's essential condition is seasonal, as evidenced by the bursts of energy and elation associated with springtime and summer, followed by the decay and bleak despair of fall and winter. Sometimes, however, the condition cycles even faster.
"The average person with bipolar disorder may go through as many as 10 or 12 cycles of mania and subsequent depression in a lifetime. In severe cases, a sufferer may experience four or more per year, which is known as 'rapid cycling,'" Jurgens said. "We believe God suffers from the even rarer 'ultra-rapid cycling,' which would account for the many documented cases in which He alternates between benevolence and rage toward humanity within a matter of seconds. For example, last week, He brought desperately needed, life-giving rain to southern Mali while simultaneously leveling Turkey with a devastating earthquake."
Further evidence of God's manic-depression can be found in the Bible, in which the erotomania of the Song of Songs sharply contrasts with the sadness and existential despair of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Book of Job, Jurgens noted, marks the best example of His condition. The book begins with the bleak lamentations of Job and ends with a full-blown manic episode...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:20 PM
( 11:35 AM ) The Rat
THE SLOWEST MAN TO RUN UP THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING.
Patrick Halloran finished well behind [Thomas Dold, whose time was 0:10:28]. In fact, he finished well behind the vast majority of the climbers. The 60-year-old Georgia-based construction businessman spent more than an hour-and-a -quarter trekking from the bottom to the top. His time, 1:15:17, made him the slowest of the 670-plus people who started the race. Still, he finished, an impressive accomplishment for a man five years removed from a heart attack and two out from suffering a three-inch cut in his esophagus that left him in the intensive care unit for three weeks...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:35 AM
( 11:33 AM ) The Rat
A shroud has no pockets.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:33 AM
( 9:41 AM ) The Rat
"THIS LLAMA WAS FOLLOWING MY HUSBAND AROUND, CONSTANTLY TRYING TO 'NECK' WIH HIM..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:41 AM
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
( 1:19 PM ) The Rat
THE BITTER END. Excellent Radiolab short on end-of-life decisions and care. Skippable if you already have read any good sources on current health care (or are aware of e.g. studies like this one); if not, the episode's a good and reasonably concise wake-up call. The chart on the summary page definitely brings Murray's point home.
Ken Murray, a doctor who's written several articles about how doctors think about death, explains that there's a huge gap between what patients expect from life-saving interventions (such as CPR, ventilation, and feeding tubes), and what doctors think of these very same procedures...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:19 PM
( 12:12 PM ) The Rat
HMM (via IKM). I would appear to fall into the "some people" category, then—maybe because I spent as much of my high-school years as possible asleep or mainlining Agatha Christie. (Which is just as well when one recalls, e.g., Robert Lepage on the Ring in a January 2012 Playbill: "These roles are sung by mature singers, and they're often depicted as very strong heroes, but they're teenagers basically.")
Not everyone feels the sustained, melancholic presence of a high-school shadow self. There are some people who simply put in their four years, graduate, and that’s that. But for most of us adults, the adolescent years occupy a privileged place in our memories, which to some degree is even quantifiable: Give a grown adult a series of random prompts and cues, and odds are he or she will recall a disproportionate number of memories from adolescence. This phenomenon even has a name—the "reminiscence bump"—and it's been found over and over in large population samples, with most studies suggesting that memories from the ages of 15 to 25 are most vividly retained. (Which perhaps explains Ralph Keyes's observation in his 1976 classic, Is There Life After High School?: "Somehow those three or four years can in retrospect feel like 30.")
That being said, there's definitely interesting stuff in here.
Zero to 3. For ages, this window dominated the field, and it still does today, in part for reasons of convenience: Birth is the easiest time to capture a large population to study, and, as Levitt points out, "it's easier to understand something as it's being put together"—meaning the brain—"than something that’s complex but already formed." There are good scientific reasons to focus on this time period, too: The sensory systems, like hearing and eyesight, develop very early on. "But the error we made," says Levitt, "was to say, 'Oh, that's how all functions develop, even those that are very complex. Executive function, emotional regulation—all of it must develop in the same way.'" That is not turning out to be the case. "If you're interested in making sure kids learn a lot in school, yes, intervening in early childhood is the time to do it," says Laurence Steinberg, a developmental psychologist at Temple University and perhaps the country’s foremost researcher on adolescence. "But if you're interested in how people become who they are, so much is going on in the adolescent years."
In the past couple of decades, studies across the social sciences have been designed around this new orientation. It has long been known, for instance, that male earning potential correlates rather bluntly with height. But it was only in 2004 that a trio of economists thought to burrow a little deeper and discovered, based on a sample of thousands of white men in the U.S. and Britain, that it wasn't adult height that seemed to affect their subjects' wages; it was their height at 16. (In other words, two white men measuring five-foot-eleven can have very different earning potential in the same profession, all other demographic markers being equal, just because one of them was shorter at 16.) Eight years later, Deborah Carr, a sociologist at Rutgers, observed something similar about adults of a normal weight: They are far more likely to have higher self-esteem if they were a normal weight, rather than overweight or obese, in late adolescence (Carr was using sample data that tracked weight at age 21, but she notes that heavy 21-year-olds were also likely to be heavy in high school). Robert Crosnoe, a University of Texas sociologist, will be publishing a monograph with a colleague this year that shows attractiveness in high school has lingering effects, too, even fifteen years later. "It predicted a greater likelihood of marrying," says Crosnoe, "better earning potential, better mental health." This finding reminds me of something a friend was told years ago by Frances Lear, head of the eponymous, now defunct magazine for women: "The difference between you and me is that I knew in high school I was beautiful."
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:12 PM
( 12:01 PM ) The Rat
TEENAGE GIRL BLOSSOMING INTO BEAUTIFUL OBJECT.
"Ashley has really developed into quite a striking assemblage of physical attributes that are found to be sexually attractive in our culture," said Parker’s uncle Keith Hayes, expressing astonishment at how his niece had steadily matured from a precocious youth into a shapely, ravishing thing devoid of intellect and personality. "It's hard to believe that she used to be that little girl [capable of subjective experiences] that I remember. Now look at her—she's such a lovely vessel for displaced sexual frustration and voyeuristic lust, just like her mother"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:01 PM
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
( 5:53 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:53 PM
( 5:51 PM ) The Rat
IT TAKES PLANNING, CAUTION TO AVOID BEING 'IT,' via IKM.
It started in high school when they spent their morning break darting around the campus of Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Wash. Then they moved on—to college, careers, families and new cities. But because of a reunion, a contract and someone's unusual idea to stay in touch, tag keeps pulling them closer. Much closer.
The game they play is fundamentally the same as the schoolyard version: One player is "It" until he tags someone else. But men in their 40s can't easily chase each other around the playground, at least not without making people nervous, so this tag has a twist. There are no geographic restrictions and the game is live for the entire month of February. The last guy tagged stays "It" for the year.
That means players get tagged at work and in bed. They form alliances and fly around the country. Wives are enlisted as spies and assistants are ordered to bar players from the office.
"You're like a deer or elk in hunting season," says Joe Tombari, a high-school teacher in Spokane, who sometimes locks the door of his classroom during off-periods and checks under his car before he gets near it...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:51 PM
( 2:11 PM ) The Rat
AP'S UNFORTUNATELY CROPPED BOY SCOUT PHOTO, via MR.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:11 PM
( 11:38 AM ) The Rat
IS EGG DONATION DANGEROUS? via AB.
Many of the women underscored the importance of egg donation. Some of them had gotten sick, but even as they told me about the pain, hospital visits and fear of death, they emphasized that they believed they were doing the right thing...
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:38 AM
( 11:32 AM ) The Rat
SECTION 5 REFORMED AT LAST.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:32 AM
( 11:04 AM ) The Rat
THE LAPTOP COMPUBODY SOCK. Not to be used at the same time as the anti-loneliness ramen bowl.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:04 AM
( 7:08 AM ) The Rat
THE QUANTIFIED SPOUSE MOVEMENT HAS COUPLES TRACKING WEIGHT, SLEEP AND EVEN ORGASMS TO FIND BLISS. Dear God.
Some couples say the data they collect actually helps them to be more respectful of a spouse's state and needs. Lisa and Joe Betts-LaCroix have adopted an arsenal of mutual-surveillance tools that include the Zeo sleep band; an infrared camera to monitor their tossing and turning at night; and a WiFi-connected scale. The couple has also tried Krane's CoupleWise, and is embarking on a three-phase relationship experiment of their own design that will measure, in real-time, how each spouse's actions affect the other's happiness.
Like body language, the digital data clues Joe and Lisa in to how the other is feeling.
"If I see Lisa get a sleep score of 48 [a low score implying a poor night's sleep], I’ll think, 'I'll walk on eggshells around you today because a 48 means you could possibly be a little volatile,'" explained Joe, who is the executive director of Health Extension, an organization seeking to extend the human lifespan. "Sometimes I can look at it [Lisa's weight] and say, 'Wow are you stressed out lately? Your weight is going up,' or 'Wow, you were really sick, look how much it dipped'"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:08 AM
Monday, January 28, 2013
( 7:34 PM ) The Rat
MY FAKE COLLEGE SYLLABUS, via JWB. I have to say, this really sounds written by somebody who's been there.
No, you may not have my email address because I'm sick of the way you sidle up to me at the beginning of class and ask if I got the hysterically punctuated excuse you fired off at five this morning or seven nanoseconds before class started. I’m also fed up with receiving emails from your mom and your older sister explaining how rough this semester has been for you, what with the suspended license and the new gluten allergy, and telling me why I should cut you some slack. To say nothing of the sadness that blooms in my soul like a dark flower when I receive emails from students at addresses such as KindBuddz420@gmail.com and SexiLexi69@me.com...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:34 PM
( 4:53 PM ) The Rat
"IT'S LIKE AMERICA WRIT SMALL. AND THEN DEEP FRIED." The Wait Wait crew eats the Reuben Egg Roll.
As a mashup of Jewish and Chinese cuisine, this beats General Tso's Gefilte Fish...
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:53 PM
( 1:06 PM ) The Rat
DR. OZ'S FIVE WACKIEST MEDICAL BELIEFS. Heh.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:06 PM
( 12:50 PM ) The Rat
THE SECRET LIVES OF NORTH KOREA, via MM.
By and large, these people did not eat well, but at least they ate regularly. Their clothing was not smart, but adequate (although all of them had one special outfit for obligatory appearances at parades and other official events). And they lived not in the villas of the elite nor the hovels of the poor, but in cramped flats in respectable, if unprestigious, parts of Pyongyang. Above all, they talked among themselves—North Koreans always seem to have time to chatter, and to share the fragments of information they can gather about their country and the outside world.
Their lives would seem very dull to most Westerners. They revolved around daily rituals of carefully phased breakfasts in overcrowded flats, tedious journeys to work (often prolonged because Pyongyang's rickety public transport so often broke down), and generally tedious work days. I had the impression that they worked at a relaxed pace. They all seemed to have a great deal of time to sit around talking with their colleagues—it was important to them to keep good relations with their workmates, both to create a pleasant working environment but also to make sure they had as many friends as possible if they got into trouble...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:50 PM
( 12:48 PM ) The Rat
10 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT LOVE. Despite the negativity in the comments, I find many of the points in this reassuring—and much more optimistic than the "If you don't feel like a Disney princess at all times, you're doing it wrong" view.
If we reimagine love as micro-moments of shared positivity, it can seem like love requires that you always feel happy. I learned that this isn't true...
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:48 PM
( 12:02 PM ) The Rat
LIVE-STREAMING of the new Rigoletto tonight!
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:02 PM
( 11:08 AM ) The Rat
FRUSTRATED INNER-CITY STUDENTS RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS TO MOTIVATE TEACHERS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:08 AM
( 1:57 AM ) The Rat
THE PHRASE "COMPETITIVE YOGA" reminds me of one of my many favorite lines from Lolita: "She wanted to be a nurse in some famished Asiatic country; I wanted to be a famous spy."
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:57 AM
Sunday, January 27, 2013
( 5:32 PM ) The Rat
THE RACE GROWS SWEETER NEAR ITS FINAL LAP, via MR. Really lovely.
There was a complication: I could feel that Sam was conflicted about our budding relationship because of his loyalty to his wife, Betty, who had died six years before. In my younger years I would have felt competitive, as if his love for her meant less for me. Now I knew differently, and one night I spoke my mind...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:32 PM
Saturday, January 26, 2013
( 3:20 PM ) The Rat
YOU CAN GET OVER ANYTHING, via AB.
Below is a set of charts from the paper, used with permission from Wiley. You may be surprised to see what events produce increases and decreases in happiness. Note, however, that in almost every chart happiness level reverts to the baseline. The only exception to reversion was in the case of male unemployment, which seems to induce unhappiness as long as it lasts...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:20 PM
( 11:02 AM ) The Rat
CALIFORNIA FOR BEGINNERS, via TG.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:02 AM
Friday, January 25, 2013
( 5:28 PM ) The Rat
EFFECTS OF YOGA ON MAJOR PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:28 PM
( 4:20 PM ) The Rat
CANADA: AN INFOGRAPHIC, via AB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:20 PM
( 10:34 AM ) The Rat
AN ODD REASON SOME GUYS HAVE FEWER SEX PARTNERS.
Men who were born without a sense of smell report having far fewer sexual partners than other men do, and women with the same disorder report being more insecure in their partnerships, according to new research.
The researchers don't know why romantic difficulties could be tied to smell, but they say one possibility is that people with anosmia, or no sense of smell, are insecure, having missed many emotional signals all their life.
"A lot of social signals are transported through the olfactory channel, and they are probably missing them," said lead author Ilona Croy, a psychologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:34 AM
( 12:46 AM ) The Rat
THE FUCKING WEATHER, via ET.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:46 AM
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
( 6:16 PM ) The Rat
We think of dreams as belonging only to the young, like smooth skin or mononucleosis.
—This Is How
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:16 PM
( 2:41 PM ) The Rat
"CURRENT TESCO EMPLOYEES WHO LIKE HORSES," "Married people who like Prostitutes," and other Actual Facebook Graph Searches, via AB.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:41 PM
( 10:52 AM ) The Rat
THIS is definitely the correct way to eat oatmeal.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:52 AM
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
( 10:02 AM ) The Rat
ACID ATTACK ON SERGEI FILIN OF BOLSHOI SHOCKS MOSCOW. Damn.
The stories about vengeance at the Bolshoi Ballet go back centuries: The rival who hid an alarm clock in the audience, timed to go off during Giselle's mad scene, or who threw a dead cat onto the stage at curtain in lieu of flowers. There are whispers of needles inserted in costumes, to be discovered in midpirouette, or—the worst—broken glass nestled in the tip of a toeshoe.
But this ballet-loving city awoke on Friday to a special horror. A masked man had flung acid in the face of Sergei Filin, the artistic director of the Bolshoi, causing third-degree burns and severely damaging his eyes...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:02 AM
( 9:42 AM ) The Rat
BRINGING (INSERT NAME HERE) HOME FOR THE HOLIDAY IN CHINA, via WC.
In China's inventive marketplace, where there's demand, there's supply; unattached women can even rent a boyfriend over the approaching Chinese New Year to keep the relatives quiet.
With that holiday, the country's biggest, looming in February, young men are offering themselves on Taobao.com, China’s eBay, as companions for women heading home and dreading being grilled by older relations about their love life and marriage prospects. So entrenched is said grilling, in a society where women are expected to marry in their mid-20s and anyone over 30 is definitively "on the shelf," that there’s even a phrase for it: "cuihun," or "urge marriage."
As for the boys, just as in life, there are all sorts...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:42 AM
Monday, January 21, 2013
( 9:52 AM ) The Rat
IRA GLASS will be interviewing members of the cast and crew of the new Rigoletto as part of a Guggenheim Works & Process event, tonight at 7:30 PM. Live-streaming here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:52 AM
( 9:02 AM ) The Rat
"VAL AND PETE HAVE BEEN SWIMMING TOGETHER EVERY MORNING FOR THE PAST SEVENTEEN YEARS. ONCE A YEAR THEY HAVE A RACE..." This is lovely—and more about friendship, of course, than it is about swimming.
Now, right before every race, the old fellow cuts his toenails. He says it's for streamlining. I like to prepare by listening to some Wagner...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:02 AM
( 8:43 AM ) The Rat
"WE HAD ZERO INTERACTIONS WITH NON-STATE APPROVED NORTH KOREANS AND WERE NEVER FAR FROM OUR TWO MINDERS (2, SO ONE CAN MIND THE OTHER)." Lots and lots of recent photos, and very much worth your time. Via WC.
The longer I think about what we saw and heard, the less sure I am about what any of it actually meant...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:43 AM
( 8:41 AM ) The Rat
THE TREES HAVE EYES, via Londonist.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:41 AM
Sunday, January 20, 2013
( 6:52 PM ) The Rat
What they didn't know, what nobody was fully aware of, was that Sophia's problems went much deeper than what could be cured with lots of love and behavioral modification techniques.
—unintentionally great line from an Amazon review
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:52 PM
( 2:30 PM ) The Rat
"DIS-MOI QU'À DALILA TU REVIENS POUR JAMAIS..." I have no words. Not-especially-great translation here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:30 PM
Saturday, January 19, 2013
( 11:12 AM ) The Rat
"SHE MISTOOK HIS FLAILING FOR EXCITEMENT..." Don't miss the slideshow at the bottom.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:12 AM
Friday, January 18, 2013
( 5:19 PM ) The Rat
As the road hugged the water, I knew that over the years, running had infused a necessary spiritual weight into my life. While I loved the Bible stories and Greek myths my mom used to read to me, I'd been raised without religion, my formative years spent in a decidedly atheist country, and embraced a cynical and morally dubious young adulthood. Mom later lamented not sending me and my sister to church. But running had cracked me open, letting light into the hard-to-reach corners. It was a confessional, baptism by sweat. You can't be false when your legs are screaming, your heart pounding, mouth gaping. You feel naked, and when you feel naked, you feel naked in front of something. Perhaps God or some cosmic energy or simply the wonder of nature, but something bigger than yourself, stirring a need to honor, to prostrate.
—Running Ransom Road
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:19 PM
( 4:11 PM ) The Rat
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY FROM FACEBOOK'S GRAPH SEARCH, via SG.
# Posted by The Rat @ 4:11 PM
( 2:58 PM ) The Rat
MEET THE ADORABLE JAPANESE GIRL WHO REALLY LOVES HER FOOD, via TG. My favorite comment, from one of the other videos in the series: "SHE'S SO CUTE... I NEED TO PUNCH A WALL TO FEEL MANLY AGAIN"
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:58 PM
( 10:29 AM ) The Rat
ARE ELEPHANTS DOOMED?
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:29 AM
( 3:18 AM ) The Rat
Jean. The whole thing is actually tremendously exciting. Not just getting on the plane, but getting on the plane and turning left.
Norman. Turning left?
Jean. First class. And home in time for our fortieth wedding anniversary! We haven't quite decided how to mark the occasion.
Madge. Perhaps a minute of silence.
—The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:18 AM
Thursday, January 17, 2013
( 2:46 PM ) The Rat
WHO NEEDS DRUGS WHEN YOU'VE GOT MUSIC?
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:46 PM
( 2:35 PM ) The Rat
I thought about the hundred or so passengers from the ship who had been deported to China over the years and the fact that almost all of them had eventually come back. The resilience of these people was astonishing to me, and it occurred to me that in their sheer determination to get to this country and stay here, the passengers from the Golden Venture, who were born in China and still speak only broken English, are in some ways more American than I will ever be.
I remembered something that Sean Chen had told me. He was describing the little indignities of being illegal in America, and I asked him whether, knowing what he knows now—knowing about the arduous journey, the years in prison, the perils of an undocumented existence, and, perhaps worst of all, the new prosperity in China, that country he had once risked everything to flee—he felt any regrets. Without hesitation, Sean shook his head. "If you gave me the chance," he said, "I would do it again."
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:35 PM
( 11:27 AM ) The Rat
THE TRUTH ABOUT ASSAULT WEAPONS, via SJ.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:27 AM
( 2:17 AM ) The Rat
MAN WHO GOT SHIT TOGETHER 5 YEARS AGO STILL VIEWED AS LOVABLE FUCKUP BY FRIENDS, FAMILY. Somehow I get the feeling this was written by a youngest child...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:17 AM
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
( 10:04 PM ) The Rat
AXE TO SEND 22 MEN INTO SPACE. Hehe.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:04 PM
( 2:34 PM ) The Rat
HOW TIDE DETERGENT BECAME A DRUG CURRENCY.
As the cases piled up after his team's first Tide-theft bust, Thompson sought an answer to the riddle at the center of the crimes: What did thieves want with so much laundry soap? To find out, he and his unit pored over security recordings to identify prolific perpetrators, whom officers then tracked down and detained for questioning. "We never promised to go easy on them, but they were willing to talk about it," Thompson says. "I guess they were bragging." It turned out the detergent wasn't being used as an ingredient in some new recipe for getting high, but instead to buy drugs themselves. Tide bottles have become ad hoc street currency, with a 150-ounce bottle going for either $5 cash or $10 worth of weed or crack cocaine. On certain corners, the detergent has earned a new nickname: "Liquid gold"...
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:34 PM
( 11:15 AM ) The Rat
PANICKING FLU SWEARS IT DIDN'T MEAN TO KILL OLD LADY.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:15 AM
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
( 10:00 PM ) The Rat
BETS TAKEN ON THE WORDS LANCE ARMSTRONG WILL USE DURING TV INTERVIEW.
Ladbrokes are only offering evens on Armstrong's use of the word 'Confess' and the phrase 'Never tested positive' during his chat at his Texas home with Winfrey. The phrase 'Witch hunt' and the names of Irish journalists David Walsh and Paul Kimmage offer slightly better prospects at 2/1...
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:00 PM
( 8:35 PM ) The Rat
[T]hose Terman participants who started school at a very early age tended to encounter difficulties throughout their lives. For example, the early-starting boys like Philip were somewhat less likely to grow up to be very well-adjusted adults, and the early-starting girls were more likely to later abuse alcohol.
And surprisingly enough, their age at entering school predicted the subjects' longevity, too. The children who started first grade at age five were at higher risk of dying early, and those who started school on schedule (at age six) lived longer. Just as we had discovered that an element of childhood personality—conscientiousness—was very relevant to health decades later, we now saw that something as seemingly unrelated to health as a school starting age could also tell us something about a person's chances of living a long life.
There was no single ingredient that explained the increased risk for those who started school at a younger-than-average age. Indeed, many of these precocious Terman participants did live long and healthy lives. But it was a mark that something could go very wrong if the children were pushed too far, too fast. Because relating to classmates is so important for children, an out-of-sync start can launch some of them down some erratic paths. We concluded that parents should not enroll their kids at age five in an attempt to give them an advantage. Getting an early start—jumping ahead of one's peers—is a dead-end myth.
Linda was not an early starter, but she was an easy starter. She did well in all of her classes, even penmanship. She had many friends, and her teacher observed that she was unselfish and had a level of common sense that was "above average." She enjoyed her dolls and playing hopscotch. Thus, she was a "traditionalist" both in school age and activities. Linda also liked to study—everything seemed easy for her to learn. Linda in fact accelerated in her third-grade year, completing two grades in that same year and skipping on to fifth grade. Was that a good idea?
Because the Terman children entered school at different ages, and because some skipped or repeated grades, they had very different grade school experiences. At the end of eighth grade, some students were the same age as their classmates, while others were older or younger. We wondered if the onset of adolescence was the key turning point. But it wasn't: age match with peers as a teenager was not significantly related to mortality risk; it was age at school entry that made the difference. Linda, for example, remained popular and well-adjusted, continued to do well in school, and appeared to be no worse off for having sprinted through her third- and fourth-grade years...
—The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:35 PM
( 9:23 AM ) The Rat
CHINESE JOURNALISTS USED A STORY ABOUT PORRIDGE TO GIVE THE MIDDLE FINGER TO THE CENSORS. So great.
In Chinese, the word for "porridge," zhou (粥), is a homophone of the first character in "weekend," zhoumo (周末), the second half of Southern Weekly's publication name. The shorthand for Southern Weekly is nanzhou (南周), which sounds very similar to "porridge of the south," or nanfang de zhou (南方的粥)...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:23 AM
( 8:30 AM ) The Rat
DO THE BRAIN BENEFITS OF EXERCISE LAST?
Yeah, it's pretty much what you think.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:30 AM
Monday, January 14, 2013
( 10:14 PM ) The Rat
GINGERBREAD CRACK HOUSE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:14 PM
( 9:46 PM ) The Rat
I REALLY WANT TO DISLIKE RADIOLAB, because it's so overproduced (and yes, this is a TAL fan saying that...), but this episode about Mel Blanc's 1961 coma is pretty great.
Mel Blanc wasn't just a voice man. He created entire personalities, each with its own nuances and hilarious quirks. His son Noel Blanc says his dad invested so much into Bugs, Porky, Daffy, Tweety et al that Mel's face and body would transform with every cartoon animal that spoke through him. This summer, our producer Sean Cole interviewed Noel at the Blanc family house on Big Bear Lake outside of L.A. Sean had heard a crazy story about Mel nearly dying in a crash on Dead Man's Curve on Hollywood Boulevard—and about the moment two weeks later when Bugs Bunny emerged from Mel's coma before Mel did...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:46 PM
( 1:49 PM ) The Rat
"BUT THEN ST. NICK CAME IN AND HE WAS DRUNK WITH POWER." A handy widget
that randomly generates uses of "But then..." from TAL.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:49 PM
( 1:45 PM ) The Rat
CAN MY CHOICE OF WORKOUT HAVE AN IMPACT ON MY LIFESPAN?
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:45 PM
( 10:28 AM ) The Rat
REPORT: 96% OF NATION'S SMUT CONSUMED BY FILTHIEST 1%.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:28 AM
Sunday, January 13, 2013
( 8:37 PM ) The Rat
DARWIN WAS WRONG ABOUT DATING, via IKM.
In 2009, another long-assumed gender difference in mating—that women are choosier than men—also came under siege. In speed dating, as in life, the social norm instructs women to sit in one place, waiting to be approached, while the men rotate tables. But in one study of speed-dating behavior, the evolutionary psychologists Eli J. Finkel and Paul W. Eastwick switched the "rotator" role. The men remained seated and the women rotated. By manipulating this component of the gender script, the researchers discovered that women became less selective—they behaved more like stereotypical men—while men were more selective and behaved more like stereotypical women. The mere act of physically approaching a potential romantic partner, they argued, engendered more favorable assessments of that person.
Recently, a third pillar appeared to fall. To back up the assumption that an enormous gap exists between men's and women's attitudes toward casual sex, evolutionary psychologists typically cite a classic study published in 1989. Men and women on a college campus were approached in public and propositioned with offers of casual sex by "confederates" who worked for the study. The confederate would say: "I have been noticing you around campus and I find you to be very attractive." The confederate would then ask one of three questions: (1) "Would you go out with me tonight?" (2) "Would you come over to my apartment tonight?" or (3) "Would you go to bed with me tonight?"
Roughly equal numbers of men and women agreed to the date. But women were much less likely to agree to go to the confederate's apartment. As for going to bed with the confederate, zero women said yes, while about 70 percent of males agreed.
Those results seemed definitive—until a few years ago, when Terri D. Conley, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, set out to re-examine what she calls "one of the largest documented sexuality gender differences," that men have a greater interest in casual sex than women.
Ms. Conley found the methodology of the 1989 paper to be less than ideal. "No one really comes up to you in the middle of the quad and asks, 'Will you have sex with me?'" she told me recently. "So there needs to be a context for it. If you ask people what they would do in a specific situation, that's a far more accurate way of getting responses." In her study, when men and women considered offers of casual sex from famous people, or offers from close friends whom they were told were good in bed, the gender differences in acceptance of casual-sex proposals evaporated nearly to zero...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:37 PM
( 11:24 AM ) The Rat
In the late 1970s I was writing columns and editorials for the Washington Post. Because I knew nothing about any particular subject, it fell to me to write the paper's editorial whenever a prominent person died. So frequently did I write such pieces, that I soon became known by my colleagues as "Mr. Death"—not the most cheerful nickname, but at least it indicated a minor skill.
When Golda Meir passed away, Mr. Death was called upon to write an homage to her life and accomplishments. Rather than recite known facts, I wanted to get at least one quotation from someone who had known her personally. I was referred to a very powerful columnist of the time, whom I phoned with my request. "Could you tell me something especially revealing about Mrs. Meir," I asked him. "Oh, yes!" he said at once. "We were very close, you know. I shall never forget the day she leaned forward and told me: 'You are, without question, the best columnist in America.'"
—Rules for Aging
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:24 AM
( 11:19 AM ) The Rat
"ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH, I REALIZED THAT THIS BEER REALLY TASTES LIKE TWO BOTTLES MIXED INTO ONE. ONE, A DECENT MALTY BROWN WITH ROASTED AND SLIGHTLY SOUR NOTES, AND TWO, SOME SORT OF WEIRD BANANA SODA BEVERAGE MOST LIKELY SOLD IN SOUTH KOREA."
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:19 AM
Saturday, January 12, 2013
( 9:38 PM ) The Rat
FROM THE CLICHES COME TO LIFE DEPT.
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:38 PM
( 7:33 PM ) The Rat
"THE LAST I SAW OF EITHER OF THEM, THEY WERE SPRINTING DOWN WALNUT STREET, SHOUTING OBSCENITIES." 10 Stories About Meeting the Parents, via Nerve. Fortunately I've managed to escape all of these except the "denoting which ones she had liked most and why" bit...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:33 PM
( 7:10 PM ) The Rat
ALL HAVE THEIR ROLE TO PLAY IN THE GREAT CHAIN OF BEING...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:10 PM
( 7:08 PM ) The Rat
EDITH WITH GOOGLY EYES. I actually found this somewhat by accident the other day, before realizing how popular it is. Still, even the most committed contrarian-for-being-a-contrarian's-sake could hardly deny its greatness.
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:08 PM
( 5:01 PM ) The Rat
REJECTION THERAPY: A HUNDRED DAYS OF 'NO,'" via IKM.
Jiang started his project on Nov. 15. For his first rejection, he asked a hotel security guard if he could borrow $100. The video of the exchange is awkward and uncomfortable to watch. "No," the guard says incredulously and then asks why he needs the money. Jiang doesn't appear to hear him. "No? O.K., thanks," he mumbles, rushing away. "I was so nervous," Jiang says a month later, with more than 30 videos completed. "I knew he was going to say 'no,' so I just wanted to get it over with."
Jiang loosened up over subsequent videos and learned the art of the follow-up question. On Day 5, when he asked to tour a grocery store's warehouse, he did so several times, phrasing his questions in different ways. (The answer was still "no.") On Day 8, he struck up a conversation with the first person in line outside a Best Buy on Black Friday before asking if he could cut in front. (No way.) Jiang has since gotten more confident and friendly; now, when he asks for crazy things, a number of people answer "yes." A Krispy Kreme employee agreed to link donuts in the shape of the Olympic rings, and though a one-story firehouse didn't have a pole for Jiang to slide down, the firefighters did give him a tour of the building...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:01 PM
( 1:49 PM ) The Rat
After a quarter-mile, the path entered the main section of the waterfront green where Nate got married in 2005. I was several years sober and former friends and drinking pals were on hand. Everyone was drunk but me. This was the first wedding I'd gone to since I'd slinked out on Evan's a couple of years earlier on the Jersey Shore. I'd been just nine months sober. I'd stayed for the vows, but it was unsettling to watch someone into whose mouth I used to blow coke smoke, intimate as a kiss, slip into adulthood so effortlessly. Was I jealous? Or resentful that Evan hadn't had to give up anything like I had, no voids in his life. In fact, he'd only gained. And somehow I knew he always would. Once the ceremony ended and people I used to know started talking to me, I froze, got scared, and made a beeline for my car. Sober, I had no idea who I was and I didn't want other people discovering it for me.
—Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past, One Marathon at a Time
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:49 PM
( 8:25 AM ) The Rat
AMERICANS DIE YOUNGER THAN OTHERS IN RICH NATIONS. Wow, I wonder why.
Americans "have a long-standing pattern of poorer health that is strikingly consistent and pervasive" over a person's lifetime, says the report, from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, independent, non-profit groups that advise the federal government on health.
"The tragedy is not that the United States is losing a contest with other countries," the report says, "but that Americans are dying and suffering from illness and injury at rates that are demonstrably unnecessary."
Family physician Steven Woolf, who chaired the panel that wrote the report, said authors were "stunned by these findings."
The report's most important purpose, Woolf says, is to alert Americans to these problems. "Our sense is that Americans don't really know about this," says Woolf, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. "I don't think people realize that their children are likely to live shorter lives than children in other countries."
Most of the difference between male Americans' longevity and that of their peers is due to deaths before age 50, with many problems rooted in poor childhood health, according to the report, published online Wednesday.
The USA has had the highest infant mortality rate of any developed country for several decades, due partly to a high rate of premature birth. With more than one in five American children living in poverty, the USA also has the highest child poverty rate, the report says...
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:25 AM
Friday, January 11, 2013
( 8:42 PM ) The Rat
AREA WOMAN DECIDES NOT TO POST FACEBOOK STATUS THAT WOULD HAVE TIPPED GUN CONTROL DEBATE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:42 PM
( 7:42 PM ) The Rat
CHINA'S 'LITTLE EMPEROR' GENERATION FITS STEREOTYPES, STUDY FINDS.
Each subject completed a 44-question personality inventory to gauge such traits as extroversion, agreeableness and negativity. The study volunteers also played games that are thought to reveal the true behavioral inclinations of players rather than their fleeting emotions or the values they claim to embrace. As they played through these games, the contrasts between the two groups were striking, the researchers said.
Compared with the adults born before the one-child rule, those born after were less likely to be altruistic in a game in which the player dictates how to split a pot of money. They exhibited less trust and trustworthiness in another game that tests a player's willingness to rely on an unseen partner to be fair.
They were more likely to favor a safe bet over a high-risk, high-reward proposition. And when offered the chance to compete against an anonymous player in an adding game or to let his or her solo performance dictate the reward, the "Little Emperors" more often shied from competition.
The personality inventories showed a similar skew: compared with those born before the one-child policy, those born after were significantly less likely to portray themselves as conscientious and more likely to own up to a greater degree of negativity...
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:42 PM
( 3:15 PM ) The Rat
MISS AMERICA CONTESTANT: "I HAVE AUTISM."
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:15 PM
( 2:59 PM ) The Rat
CELL PHONE ETIQUETTE EXPLAINED BY PROPAGANDA POSTERS.
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:59 PM
( 12:05 PM ) The Rat
There is also a small group of books I have held on to because they are so moronic or despicable that they could be of use in the future, were I ever called to testify before a federal tribunal investigating bad taste in American culture in the late twentieth century. These are stored in a metal case that I keep under lock and key in a hallway closet just outside my office, because I fear that they may emit thermonuclear radiation and contaminate the rest of the collection. They include Pat Robertson's demented early-Nineties screed The New World Order, in which the loopy televangelist theorizes that a number of Carter administration personnel decisions may have been influenced, at least indirectly, by minions of Satan. Also decomposing in that hallway septic tank is Geraldo Rivera's iniquitous autobiography, Exposing Myself. For many years I used to see Kurt Vonnegut shambling around the streets of Turtle Bay, on the East Side of New York, always with a disconsolate expression on his face. I could never figure out why he looked so miserable; he was, after all, one of America's most successful and admired novelists. Then one day, while reading Exposing Myself, I found out that Vonnegut had briefly been Geraldo's father-in-law.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:05 PM
( 12:04 PM ) The Rat
TEENAGERS SAY FACEBOOK ISN'T THEIR MOST USED SITE.
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:04 PM
Thursday, January 10, 2013
( 5:47 PM ) The Rat
"WHY DOES EVERY DAY INVOLVE A FIGHT WITH AN AMERICAN?" Thank God for Maggie Smith or the only reason I could still respect myself after watching Downton Abbey would be the amazing production values...
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:47 PM
( 11:23 AM ) The Rat
"ACCORDING TO A 2011 GOVERNMENT SURVEY, 2% OF PAKISTANI HOUSEHOLDS' AVERAGE MONTHLY EXPENSES ARE TEA, AND ANOTHER 24% IS FOR MILK PRODUCTS..." Tea in the Boiling City, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:23 AM
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
( 8:47 PM ) The Rat
"ARE YOU DRINKING AGAIN?" via ATIAC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:47 PM
( 1:09 PM ) The Rat
ORWELL, COVERED UP, via WC. This is, surely, the sign you've arrived as a writer...
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:09 PM
( 1:25 AM ) The Rat
"You've just been so... high-strung lately," said Maxine.
"I know, I know," said Claudia. "It's Steve. He's making me crazy!"
"It can't be all about Steve," said Annie. Annie was their never-been-married friend. She had no idea what a husband could do to a woman.
—Point, Click, Love
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:25 AM
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
( 11:40 PM ) The Rat
MATH PROBLEMS CAN BE PHYSICALLY PAINFUL.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:40 PM
Monday, January 07, 2013
( 5:23 PM ) The Rat
CAN DAD'S DISTRESS DURING MOM'S PREGNANCY AFFECT NEWBORNS? via TG.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:23 PM
( 5:10 PM ) The Rat
5 SECRET CRIMINAL USES FOR STUFF THEY SELL IN GAS STATIONS, via EL.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:10 PM
Sunday, January 06, 2013
( 7:50 PM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 7:50 PM
Saturday, January 05, 2013
( 10:01 PM ) The Rat
THE RAPE UPROAR IN INDIA, via AB.
One of the more interesting and horrifying aspects of the case has been the employment of euphemism to cover it. I have noticed that most articles discuss the victim "having internal injuries" or "having some of her intestines removed," but most seem to suggest that these injuries resulted from her being beaten with an iron rod. Some may, but one or two stark reports have given the full truth, which is that after being penetrated by six attackers (a horror I cannot imagine), one or more inserted an iron rod into the woman and partially disemboweled her. I can't help but think that had such treatment occurred as part of a military operation, we'd be getting the graphic details in every report.
My point here is that as horrific as the crime was, I don't think the reporting on it has been up to the task. If we can't bring ourselves to fully discuss the violence and torture that sometimes accompanies rape—if we can't discuss what such an invasion is capable of inflicting in terms of pain and injury—how can we possibly stop it?
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:01 PM
( 12:10 PM ) The Rat
I'm consoled by the fact that the two of you will have very hairy children.
—Dear Old Love: Anonymous Notes to Former Crushes, Sweethearts, Husbands, Wives & Ones That Got Away
# Posted by The Rat @ 12:10 PM
( 10:54 AM ) The Rat
NARWHALS IN THE NEWS!
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:54 AM
( 2:16 AM ) The Rat
# Posted by The Rat @ 2:16 AM
( 1:48 AM ) The Rat
ARE YOU GIVING THE BEST TYPE FOR YOUR TYPE? Handy/interesting guide to which blood components it's best to donate.
Also see 25 Facts You Should Share During Blood Donor Month.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:48 AM
Friday, January 04, 2013
( 1:05 AM ) The Rat
THE COLONIAL HANGOVER OF INDIA'S RAPE LAW.
# Posted by The Rat @ 1:05 AM
Thursday, January 03, 2013
( 10:29 PM ) The Rat
"'WHAT IF THAT WAS YOUR DAUGHTER?' ONE GUY SAYS. 'BUT IT ISN'T,' HE SAYS." Steubenville High School Athletes Mock Rape Victim Savannah Dietrich, via AB. Rundowns of Anonymous's involvement here and here.
# Posted by The Rat @ 10:29 PM
( 9:07 PM ) The Rat
AMERICA'S REAL CRIMINAL ELEMENT: LEAD.
Experts often suggest that crime resembles an epidemic. But what kind? Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication, he says, the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever. If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza. If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria. But if it's everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the '60s and '70s and the fall of crime in the '90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule...
# Posted by The Rat @ 9:07 PM
( 8:34 PM ) The Rat
"BUT IT WAS TWO 5-FOOT ALLIGATORS, A MARIJUANA GROW OPERATION, AND A STRIPPER POLE AT THE SCENE THAT CONFUSED COPS," from November.
# Posted by The Rat @ 8:34 PM
( 3:33 PM ) The Rat
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT...
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:33 PM
( 3:15 PM ) The Rat
"THE SITE IS APPARENTLY POPULAR WITH THE 'MARRIED' AND 'LOOKING FOR SOMETHING CASUAL' SET..."
# Posted by The Rat @ 3:15 PM
( 11:16 AM ) The Rat
Often I have slipped away from picnics and birthday parties and children's soccer games and award ceremonies to squeeze in a bit of reading while concealed in a copse, a garage, a thicket, or a deserted gazebo. For me, books have always been a safety valve, and in some cases—when a book materializes out of nowhere in a situation where it is least expected—a deus ex machina. Books are a way of saying: This room seems to have more than its fair share of bozos in it. Edith Wharton may be dead, but she's still better company than these palookas.
If it were possible, I would read books eight to ten hours a day, every day of the year. Perhaps more. There is nothing I would rather do than read books. This is the way I have felt since I started borrowing books from a roving Quaker City bookmobile at the tender age of seven. In the words of Francois Rabelais: I was born this way. And I know why I read so obsessively: I read because I want to be somewhere else. Yes, this is a reasonably satisfactory world that we are living in, this society in particular, but the world conjured up by books is a better one. This is especially true if you are poor or missing vital appendages. I was stranded in a housing project with substandard parents at the time I started reading as if there were no tomorrow, and I am convinced that this desire to escape from reality—on a daily, even an hourly, basis—is the main reason people read books. Intelligent people, that is. This is a category that would include people like my father, a Brand X prole who got started on the road to perdition early by dropping out of high school in ninth grade, thereby condemning himself to a lifetime of inane, soul-destroying jobs, but who was rarely seen without a book in his hands. He used books the same way he used alcohol: to pretend that he was not here, and if he was here, that he was happy for a change. I think this compulsion is fairly common. No matter what they profess to believe, no matter what they may tell themselves, most book lovers do not read primarily to obtain information or to whle away the time or to better themselves or even, in the words of C.S. Lewis, to know that they are not alone. They read to escape to a more exciting, more rewarding world. A world where they do not hate their jobs, their spouses, their governments, their lives.
—One for the Books
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:16 AM
( 11:14 AM ) The Rat
I always drink on airplanes—I consider them a sort of time-free zone, an endless cocktail hour. Besides, I'm terrified of flying, and after a few little bottles of Smirnoff and cans of Mrs. T.'s Bloody Mary mix, I can usually forget that I'm in the air, at least for a little while. Forgetting is what it's about—forgetting that I'm twenty-three years old and have nothing to show for it. Once I've had a few drinks I can convince myself that I have a lot to show for it. Who needs things like college degrees, nice hometown boyfriends, starter jobs at advertising agencies? My friends are all playing a game, and I have stepped to the sidelines. I have chosen to sit this one out.
Instead, I am playing house with Lenny, zigzagging across the country at his beck and call. I have something resembling a career, halfheartedly modeling and doing television commercials. For the moment, I think I want to be an actress. I dropped out of college three years ago after being cast in a York Peppermint Patties commercial, and now I feel that I'm stuck with it—acting and Lenny—as if, having taken a wrong turn, I have had to make a commitment to follow this road wherever it takes me. Retracing my steps has not felt like an option. I have run faster and faster in the wrong direction, eyes squeezed shut, hoping that somewhere along the way the road will loop around again.
A red-faced, middle-aged man is sitting next to me, matching me drink for drink. I've noticed him sneaking glances at me. A thick annual report is spread over his tray table.
"I'll bet you're an actress," he says. "Am I right?"
"Right," I say faintly.
"Have I seen you in anything?"
I reel off the list of my most recent commercials. Hess Gasoline, Coca-Cola, Scrabble. My words are slightly slurred. Although I think I don't show it, I am always flattered and surprised when people ask if I'm an actress or a model. As far as my looks go, I am seething with insecurity, a bottomless pit into which compliments fall for a brief, shining moment, then disappear. The whole notion of physical beauty has grown increasingly important to me as my intellectual curiosity has vanished. A few years ago I was studying music and literature at Sarah Lawrence, diagramming Mozart concertos and reading Tillie Olsen. But why struggle with a term paper on the elements of foreshadowing in Bleak House when I could be cavorting on the beach in front of a camera and getting paid for it? Why deal with caked-over tubes of toothpaste, smelly refrigerators filled with old cartons of labeled food and turned milk when Lenny Klein has handed me keys to an apartment high above Central Park South? I have used myself as a physical instrument, slicing my way through the world with nothing but youth, long legs, and long blond hair. At times I think I have chosen the easy way, but every once in a while I realize that this may be the hardest way of all.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:14 AM
( 11:12 AM ) The Rat
MOSCOW'S HOMELESS WALK ALL NIGHT TO AVOID FREEZING TO DEATH.
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:12 AM
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
( 6:08 PM ) The Rat
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
# Posted by The Rat @ 6:08 PM
( 5:13 PM ) The Rat
THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO DIM SUM, via WC.
# Posted by The Rat @ 5:13 PM
( 11:19 AM ) The Rat
On Wednesday night my mother helped me wash my hair. She set it in big rollers for me. I planned to sleep like that all night but after an hour they hurt my head so I took them out. On Thursday morning I got up early but I had trouble eating. My mother said it was natural for me to feel uneasy on the first day of school. She said when she was a girl she felt the same way. My mother's always telling me about when she was a girl. It's supposed to make me feel that she understands everything.
—Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
# Posted by The Rat @ 11:19 AM