The Rat
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
      ( 3:30 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:30 PM

      ( 3:19 PM ) The Rat  
EX-PLAYMATE GETS SUPREME COURT'S EAR. Ratty has always had a sneaking fondness for the Anna Nicole Smith saga; at least it was a lot more honest than a lot of other celebrity remarriages out there. Link via IKM.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:19 PM

      ( 1:13 PM ) The Rat  

Kearsley said the stretch of road was not known for drag racing, but for run-of-the-mill speeders. He said the Sheriff's Department has had success for the last year and a half using radar and lasers to catch overzealous drivers. The lasers are not detectable to drivers, he said.

"It's straight as an arrow where the accident was," he said. "You really have to go out of your way to hit a telephone pole"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:13 PM

      ( 1:06 AM ) The Rat  

Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday's New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far.

Something is very wrong at our elite universities. Last week Larry Summers resigned as president of Harvard when it became clear he would lose a no-confidence vote held by politically correct faculty members furious at his efforts to allow ROTC on campus, his opposition to a drive to have Harvard divest itself of corporate investments in Israel, and his efforts to make professors work harder. Now Yale is giving a first-class education to an erstwhile high official in one of the most evil regimes of the latter half of the 20th century—the government that harbored the terrorists who attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001.

"In some ways," Mr. Rahmatullah told the New York Times. "I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale." One of the courses he has taken is called Terrorism—Past, Present and Future...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:06 AM

      ( 12:36 AM ) The Rat  
A few years before my grandmother died, she was—not for the first time—so deeply infuriated with my grandfather that she hurled a knife at him. Fortunately for him, she missed. They had been married for more than sixty years, raised three children together, sometimes fought bitterly, and were inseparable to the end. During the long time that my grandmother was dying, my grandfather said that he had just remembered that they must have played together as small children in the Italian ghettos of Newark, where they both grew up. He based this memory on how close their respective houses had been; he was sure that it was true. What struck me was the fact that, as she was going away from him, he was reaching back to fuse them together from the beginning. He was getting more time with her retrospectively. He has always been an aggressive, talkative, very solid man, built like a stevedore; he has a strong, briny Newark accent to this day. He has never seemed less than formidable, but to my surprise he didn't hide any of his sorrow or hope from the rest of us. His need for her was raw. Almost to the moment of her death he was adamant that she would get well and on the day of her funeral he refused to join the rest of the family for dinner that evening at a local restaurant. "I was married to her for a long time," he said. "I have a lot to think about."

I wondered if he was thinking about that knife as he sat alone in their house, and whether she'd meant to miss, or not. For my grandparents, the question of the good marriage was, I think, somewhat overshadowed by the fact that theirs was a Catholic marriage; will, not choice, was explicitly written into the bargain. Something much larger than themselves would keep them together whether they liked it or not, forever; death, in this context, almost seemed like a breach of contract. But that mandate didn't mean that they were indifferent to one another. On the contrary. During her illness, I was astonished, and a little embarrassed, to get a glimpse into the incredible force of their bond, undone as they were by extremity. It was more intimate than anything explicitly sexual, and it made that knife not so simple. Would it have been a better marriage if no knives were thrown? Undoubtedly. But would it have been a better marriage, or even a good one, if the drive that propelled the knife were absent? I don't know. How many knives are too many?

—Stacey D'Erasmo, "The Good Marriage; or, The Kiss of the Fat Man" (in The M Word: Writers on Same-Sex Marriage)

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:36 AM

Monday, February 27, 2006
      ( 7:13 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:13 PM

      ( 2:24 AM ) The Rat  
MORE ON THE ILAN HALIMI TORTURE/MURDER. For a must-read Theodore Dalrymple piece on la Zone, go here.

The Barbarians were driven by a tribal, predatory code that glorifies brutality, authorities say, a subculture nourished on violent films; rap music that curses France and politicians; Islamic fundamentalist literature; and jihadist videos. The photos that the kidnappers sent via e-mail of a bound, battered Halimi with a gun to his head resembled images of hostages and prisoners in Iraq, authorities say.

"There are only two idols in the projects today: [French NBA star] Tony Parker and Abu Musab Zarqawi," the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, said author Stephane Bartome, a former anti-terrorism detective. "And unless you're a really good basketball player, it's easier to emulate Zarqawi."

The gang [that murdered Halimi] had the swaggering, violent personality of its accused leader: Youssouf Fofana, 26, a shaven-headed son of immigrants from Ivory Coast. Police describe him as a small-time gangster with 13 arrests for crimes that include armed robbery and assault on a law enforcement official. Not only do accomplices accuse Fofana of delivering the fatal stab wounds to Halimi, police say he taunted the victim's mother by phone on the day of her son's funeral...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:24 AM

      ( 12:29 AM ) The Rat  
LIKE A VIRGIN. Amazing what some people would rather have than money.

When Jeanette Yarborough decided to give her husband a gift for their seventeenth wedding anniversary she wanted it to be special. Really special. She decided that conventional treats such as Mediterranean cruises, gold watches, cars, a murder-mystery weekend, or even a boob job just weren’t going to cut it. She gave him something much more personal—and painful. Her virginity.

Well, sort of. Mrs Yarborough paid $5,000 (£2,860) to a cosmetic surgeon to stitch her hymen back together so she could “lose her virginity” all over again and her husband would have that thrilling conquest at the grand age of 40...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:29 AM

Sunday, February 26, 2006
      ( 11:39 PM ) The Rat  
UNPLUG YOUR CELLPHONE CHARGER. Just read about this the other day.

If you have a cellphone, have you ever noticed that your charger stays warm even when you are not charging your phone with it? That's because it is still draining electricity. According to Future Forests, only 5% of the power drawn by cell phone chargers are actually used to charge phones. The other 95% is wasted when you leave it plugged into the wall, but not into your phone...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:39 PM

      ( 9:18 PM ) The Rat  

On the shelves at Trixie & Peanut, a boutique in Manhattan, are indulgences for dog owners concerned with image: pink sequined tank tops, moss-green lizard-skin collars, rhinestone barrettes shaped like tiny bones. Then there are specialty products for a different kind of shopper: People who don't want their pet to be electrocuted.

For them, the shop's owner recommends $79 hiking boots with thick black rubber soles that might protect them if they should walk over one of the city's unpredictable sites of stray voltage...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:18 PM

      ( 3:11 PM ) The Rat  
PSYCHO PATH VOTEST WACKIEST STREET NAME. Via Ratty's favorite psychopath, JS.

Mitsubishi Motors sponsored the poll on the Web site and more than 2,500 voters cast their ballots during a week of voting that ended this month. Winners were announced Friday...

The complete top 10 list included:

10. Tater Peeler Road in Lebanon, Tenn.

9. The intersection of Count and Basie in Richmond, Va.

8. Shades of Death Road in Warren County, N.J.

7. Unexpected Road in Buena, N.J.

6. Bucket of Blood Street in Holbrook, Ariz.

5. The intersection of Clinton and Fidelity in Houston

4. The intersection of Lonesome and Hardup in Albany, Ga.

3. Farfrompoopen Road in Tennessee (the only road up to Constipation Ridge)

2. Divorce Court in Heather Highlands, Pa.

1. Psycho Path in Traverse City, Mich.

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:11 PM

Saturday, February 25, 2006
      ( 9:51 AM ) The Rat  

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Friday, February 24, 2006
      ( 10:16 PM ) The Rat  
IS THAT MR. RIGHT ACROSS THE TABLE? Still giggling over this one. And while you're there, also check out's 2003 Q&A with my hero Jeffrey Steingarten.

You can tell a lot about someone by the way he eats. That was how I started entertaining myself at boring dinner parties, then it became my default pattern of behavior. Over the years, I sat at many tables quietly observing the eating habits of my dining companions, many of whom were dates. Doug, an investment banker I dated a while back, usually tore into his steak the minute the server set it down in front of him. I often wondered if he confused me with the steak. Jake, an equity analyst, on the other hand, liked to take his time to savor everything he ate, believing himself to be one of those refined, sensitive types. Being around Jake was slower than watching corn grow. The meat-and-potato guys are usually conservatives at the core with homespun values, no matter how radical they claim to be. The eclectic ethnic eaters tend to be idealists, always mildly discontent at their lot in life. The devout Michelin/Zagat followers lack backbone as a whole, despite the confidence they exude. The complainers and picky eaters just want to feel like they are in control, although they never really are. Vegans are just about the most oppressive dining companions one can have, no matter how easygoing they appear. As for the wine guys: well, they're a category to themselves...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:16 PM

      ( 5:13 PM ) The Rat  
SUDAN MAN FORCED TO 'MARRY' GOAT. (Aware, no doubt, of my fondness for hircine news, both SD and ET sent this to me.) I love the line, "'We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together,' Mr Alifi said." Could we be about to see a spike in goat divorce rates?

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:13 PM

      ( 4:17 PM ) The Rat  

Bolivia’s foreign minister says coca leaves, the raw material for cocaine, are so nutritious they should be included on school breakfast menus.

'Coca has more calcium than milk. It should be part of the school breakfast,' Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca was quoted as saying in Friday’s edition of La Razon...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:17 PM

      ( 4:14 PM ) The Rat  
HBO'S 'BIG LOVE' PROBES THE POLYGAMISTS NEXT DOOR. Personally, Ratty would rather just watch Raise the Red Lantern again.

Maybe you know a family like the Henricksons. But probably not.

The father, Bill, is a genial home improvement chain store owner in Salt Lake City. He lives with three wives and seven children, in three adjacent homes in the suburbs. Needless to say, it's complicated.

Some of their problems are the usual ones—work, money, sex, children—scaled up by a factor of three. The others are extraordinary. As extralegal, consenting polygamists trying to blend into respectable society, they must hide their arrangement from the neighbors, the police and the mainstream Mormon community. And then there are the fundamentalist relatives—eccentric, corrupt and possibly homicidal—who live off the grid in a rural compound but can't stay out of Bill, Barb, Nicki and Margene's life...

# Posted by The Rat @ 4:14 PM

      ( 7:01 AM ) The Rat  
"I don't know much about women... I've been married for twenty-eight years, you know."
Grand Hotel

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:01 AM

Thursday, February 23, 2006
      ( 9:39 PM ) The Rat  

Most U.S. workers say they feel rushed on the job, but they are getting less accomplished than a decade ago, according to newly released research.

Workers completed two-thirds of their work in an average day last year, down from about three-quarters in a 1994 study, according to research conducted for Day-Timers Inc., an East Texas, Pennsylvania-based maker of organizational products.

The biggest culprit is the technology that was supposed to make work quicker and easier, experts say...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:39 PM

      ( 8:57 PM ) The Rat  
RATTY WISHES SHE HADN'T ALREADY RESPONDED to the fours meme, because she now has a movie she could unequivocally list as one she'd "watch over and over"—this one. (No, Squid, don't think it's really your thing, but I loved it.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:57 PM

      ( 6:59 PM ) The Rat  
SEX WITH A PARTNER IS 400 PERCENT BETTER. You heard it here first.

Stuart Brody of the University of Paisley, UK, and Tillmann Krüger of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, measured blood prolactin levels in male and female volunteers who watched erotic films before engaging in masturbation or sexual intercourse to orgasm in the laboratory.

Surprisingly, after orgasm from sexual intercourse, the increase in blood prolactin levels is 400 per cent higher in both sexes compared with after orgasm from masturbation...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 PM

      ( 6:51 PM ) The Rat  

The column, published in 2004, was meant as a one-time spoof, but questions began pouring in.

Why are there so many elaborate wrought-iron fences in the Mexican parts of town? What part of the word "illegal" do Mexicans not understand? Why do Mexicans pronounce "shower" as "chower" but "chicken" as "shicken"?

Arellano has responded each week, leading an unusually frank discussion on the intersections where broader society meets the largest and most visible national subgroup in the country: Mexicans...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:51 PM

      ( 10:28 AM ) The Rat  
JAPANESE BUDDHIST MONK FORMS LABOR UNION. And here Ratty thought she'd seen it all...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:28 AM

      ( 10:21 AM ) The Rat  

Many of the Internet chats occurred over several days and led to telephone conversations with officers who sounded young. In some cases, it was just a few hours of online chatting before a meeting was suggested, authorities said.

The men arrived at a Laguna Beach apartment complex beginning Saturday afternoon expecting to find a young girl home alone, police said. Instead, a female detective posing as the girl's mother answered the door.

Authorities said a 29-year-old carrying a rose tried to explain why he wanted to date the woman's 12-year-old daughter. Several suspects bolted before being tackled by officers, police said...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:21 AM

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
      ( 10:39 PM ) The Rat  
OVATION SLUTS. Just came from one of the most underinspired concerts I've ever been to in my life (original title of this post: "Two Hours of Her Life Ratty's Never Getting Back"). Really—take everything that's interesting about Mozart and get rid of it, and you'd have this concert. The fault was largely in the programming—they were performing two entirely forgettable piano concerti, and an even more forgettable symphony (I was not familiar with any of them and I can't cite Köchel numbers—having thrown my program out in disgust). In fairness, I should note that I also just don't like chamber orchestras, they're like non-alcoholic beer. I mainly went to this concert because the group (the Capella Andrea Barca chamber orchestra) is pretty highly regarded. Well, and also because, hey, free dummy.

Anyway, only bringing this up to spotlight something VERY VERY HIGH on my list of pet peeves—which is the tendency of audiences to give standing ovations to even the least inspiring performances. What gives?! An audience applauds to show gratitude to live actors or musicians (thus we don't applaud at the end of films), but standing ovations—or so I was taught—are a gesture by which we honor something out of the ordinary. But when, as now, every damn play or concert to come down the pike gets a standing ovation, they cease to mean anything—kind of like grade inflation.

Don't get me wrong: I'm the first one out of my chair when I have the luck to come upon something truly amazing. I've been to dozens of concerts that merited standing ovations and cries of "Encore"; I would throw my panties on the stage at Kurt Masur's conducting; and I'll remember the MTYZ Theatre/Moscow New Generation Theatre's stage adaptation of "Rothschild's Fiddle" until my dying day. The same goes for individual players—just among student productions, I could name a Cyrano I saw over a decade ago whom I cannot imagine being surpassed (and whose name I memorized, in hopes he'll make it professionally) and an amazing Abbie Putnam in Desire Under the Elms. I could list plenty of other examples as well, in theater and music, amateur and professional. It's in honor of that level of work that I remain stubbornly seated at those mediocre or merely-adequate performances—and they are legion—where half the damn hall seems to be leaping out of their seats, apparently thinking the performers have brought off something miraculous just in remembering their lines, or not dropping their instruments.

So anyway, if you're an ovation slut, stop it, because one of these days I MAY HIT YOU.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:39 PM

      ( 10:34 PM ) The Rat  
ANGRY BOND FANS THREATEN TO BOYCOTT FILM. Daniel Craig was actually quite good in Layer Cake, and the protestors' description of him ("short, blond, odd-looking") neatly sidesteps the fact that he's attractive and has real screen presence. That said, I'm not sure I really see him as Bond either ...but then, I've been boycotting Pierce Brosnan too, so hey. (OK, I was talked into watching The World Is Not Enough in a hotel room via pay-per-view, but that was only because everything else they had was porn.)

My favorite fellow-anti-Brosnan-ite is my oldest brother's best friend, who leaped up in the theater, upon Brosnan's first appearance on screen in Goldeneye, and yelled: "Hey! It's Remington Steele!"

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:34 PM

      ( 7:08 PM ) The Rat  

"The results showed a very strong correlation between men getting older and reduced sexual functioning, but not between age and sexual satisfaction" [co-author Professor Sophie D. Fossa] points out.

"Age accounted for a 22 per cent variance in sexual drive, a 33 per cent variance in erection issues and a 23 per cent variance in ejaculation issues.

"But age only accounted for a variance of three per cent in overall satisfaction.

"Our results show that although men experience more problems and less sexual function as they get older, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are less satisfied with their sex lives as a result."

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:08 PM

      ( 7:03 PM ) The Rat  

"If you had said five years ago, 'erotic, hot, sexy romances,' people would have said 'What, are you crazy?'" says Kensington editor in chief John Scognamiglio. "Publishing goes in cycles. Erotica now seems to be the new hot thing."

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:03 PM

      ( 9:33 AM ) The Rat  
THE ENZO SAGA, CTD. The phantom-driver story sounds extremely suspect to me—if I'd had my life saved in a war, I still wouldn't the person who saved me drive this car if I owned it ...what kind of moron would lend theirs to someone whose full name they didn't even know?!

That said, the payoff of this article is really in the last line.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:33 AM

      ( 1:16 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 12:28 AM ) The Rat  

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006
      ( 10:45 PM ) The Rat  
LIFE IMITATES 'THE BLOB.' Thanks to ET for the link.

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:45 PM

      ( 5:11 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:11 PM

      ( 12:37 AM ) The Rat  

Add two former governors, an eminent legal scholar and a former state Supreme Court justice to the ranks of those, like Alioto, who learned the hard way that obtaining a license to practice law in California is hard. In fact, it's harder than in almost every other state.

Of the 5,260 people expected to take the state's bar examination beginning Tuesday, more than half are likely to fail, rates from previous years indicate. Some law school graduates, like Alioto, flunk the bar multiple times before finally passing and becoming lawyers.

Others give up.

Oceanside, Calif., lawyer Donnie R. Cox, who took the bar in 1988 and passed on his first try, recalled a female applicant who wept constantly during the exam while staring into her blue book and wrote not a word. On the second day, Cox said, he brought in earplugs...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:37 AM

      ( 12:01 AM ) The Rat  

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Monday, February 20, 2006
      ( 11:37 PM ) The Rat  
ZOO BABIES. So cute!

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:37 PM

      ( 11:31 PM ) The Rat  
I pray you, do not fall in love with me,
For I am falser than vows made in wine.
As You Like It

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:31 PM

Sunday, February 19, 2006
      ( 11:15 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:15 AM

Saturday, February 18, 2006
      ( 11:00 PM ) The Rat  
IRAN TO HANG TEENAGE GIRL ATTACKED BY RAPISTS. Charming. (This article is from last month.)

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:00 PM

      ( 10:56 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:56 PM

      ( 10:21 PM ) The Rat  
'SLEEPING ON IT' BEST FOR COMPLEX DECISIONS. Really interesting stuff here.

Complex decisions are best left to your unconscious mind to work out, according to a new study, and over-thinking a problem could lead to expensive mistakes.

The research suggests the conscious mind should be trusted only with simple decisions, such as selecting a brand of oven glove. Sleeping on a big decision, such as buying a car or house, is more likely to produce a result people remain happy with than consciously weighing up the pros and cons of the problem, the researchers say.

Thinking hard about a complex decision that rests on multiple factors appears to bamboozle the conscious mind so that people only consider a subset of information, which they weight inappropriately, resulting in an unsatisfactory choice. In contrast, the unconscious mind appears able to ponder over all the information and produce a decision that most people remain satisfied with...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:21 PM

      ( 10:19 PM ) The Rat  

Not only are physically unattractive teenagers likely to be stay-at-homes on prom night, they're also more likely to grow up to be criminals, say two economists who tracked the life course of young people from high school through early adulthood.

"We find that unattractive individuals commit more crime in comparison to average-looking ones, and very attractive individuals commit less crime in comparison to those who are average-looking," claim Naci Mocan of the University of Colorado and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:19 PM

      ( 9:56 PM ) The Rat  

You can also go here to find out more about the anti-boycott movement.

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:56 PM

      ( 9:51 PM ) The Rat  

The age of retirement should be raised to 85 by 2050 because of trends in life expectancy, a US biologist has said. Shripad Tuljapurkar of Stanford University says anti-ageing advances could raise life expectancy by a year each year over the next two decades.

That will put a strain on economies around the world if current retirement ages are maintained, he warned. He also told a science meeting in St Louis that 50-year or 75-year mortgages may not be unusual in the future.

Dr Tuljapurkar was speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in the Missouri city.

"People are going to do things they didn't get round to in their working lives. Current institutions are really not equipped at the moment to deal with such long lives," Dr Tuljapurkar said. "We are going to have to plan a lot more carefully, which people are not very good at." [...]

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:51 PM

      ( 9:23 PM ) The Rat  

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      ( 9:22 PM ) The Rat  

[Neighbor] Vu also said when the commune was planting sugar cane, several people also asked Ngoc to awaken them at midnight to go to work, since he was up anyway...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:22 PM

      ( 9:16 PM ) The Rat  
Marrying a man is like buying something you've been admiring for a long time in a shop window. You may love it when you get home, but it doesn't always go with everything in the house.
—Jean Kerr, The Snake Has All the Lines

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:16 PM

Friday, February 17, 2006
      ( 11:14 AM ) The Rat  

Marlene Dietrich said once of Orson Welles, "When I have seen him and talked with him, I feel like a plant that has been watered." Ratty feels like that about talking about books with her adviser. But she also feels like that when it rains...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:14 AM

      ( 11:09 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 2:06 AM ) The Rat  
TEN WAYS DICK CHENEY CAN KILL YOU. These are great. Via ET, of course.

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      ( 2:05 AM ) The Rat  

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      ( 1:56 AM ) The Rat  
DNA TESTS CONTRADICT MORMON SCRIPTURE. Gee, there go my plans for Saturday night. Link via SMD.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:56 AM

      ( 12:37 AM ) The Rat  
The morning is wiser than the evening.
—Russian proverb

(Or in a more Rat-friendly formulation, perhaps "The late afternoon around 4ish is wiser than the mid-morning around 11ish"...)

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:37 AM

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
      ( 12:18 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:18 PM

      ( 12:49 AM ) The Rat  

At least this year, there was no Peruvian band serenading me from beneath our bedroom window at 11 p.m., just as we were about to go to bed. Contrary to what Jeremy assumed, no, it did not make me recall our first meeting at the free international-music outdoor concert on our college quad. A thousand times no, I do not remember the sketch he drew of me in his sociology notebook as we sat on the lawn. Frankly, it wasn't so much "love at first sight" on my part as, "Hmm, should I see this guy or Neil?"

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:49 AM

      ( 12:40 AM ) The Rat  
"One can't explain one's marriage," Isabel answered.
The Portrait of a Lady

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:40 AM

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
      ( 11:40 AM ) The Rat  

The Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office is under fire this morning for the way they investigate certain prostitution cases. Undercover detectives have reportedly been having sex when they bust massage parlors for prostitution. Sheriff Howard Smith says the detectives are just doing what needs to be done in order to build a case and get a conviction. He says they are not doing anything illegal or new. But County Supervisor Henry Connors Jr. says he wants the practice to stop...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:40 AM

      ( 8:49 AM ) The Rat  
And I tried to say—I forget my exact wording in accepting [the award]—I tried to say that I couldn't distinguish and didn't want to distinguish between writing criticism and teaching literature. I felt it was exactly the same enterprise, that you wanted somehow, if you could, to help both your reader and your student become more themselves and not—not the digest of other people's opinions, not a digest of other people. And maybe indeed one's enterprise is a desperate urge to encourage intense individuality, even at the cost of making people more idiosyncratic, of cutting them off to some degree...
her favorite brontosaurus to Ratty in an interview, summer 1999

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:49 AM

Monday, February 13, 2006
      ( 1:53 AM ) The Rat  
MANOLO FOR THE MEN on Dia de San Valentin. This is soooo funny. Thanks to ET for the link.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:53 AM

      ( 1:49 AM ) The Rat  
If you cannot have your dear husband for a comfort and a delight, for a breadwinner and a crosspatch, for a sofa, chair or a hot-water bottle, one can use him as a Cross to be Borne.
Novel on Yellow Paper

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:49 AM

Sunday, February 12, 2006
      ( 8:50 PM ) The Rat  

The Japanese have been training long and hard in the run-up to the Turin Winter Olympics but some have hiccupped on the home straight by overindulging on Italy's famously wonderful food...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:50 PM

      ( 8:01 PM ) The Rat  
Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.
—to a young lady; attrib. Richard Sheridan

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:01 PM

Friday, February 10, 2006
      ( 7:18 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:18 PM

      ( 12:00 PM ) The Rat  
FURTHER REASONS TO move to France.

Married South Korean women are the least happy with their sex lives, Japanese men are the most likely to try and dodge a certain sex problem and French men are the most fond of their frolicking, according to a recent survey.

The survey released this week by the pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Co., one of the makers of the anti-impotence drug Cialis, of 1,200 married men and women in South Korea, Japan, France and the United States also found the French had the best sex lives followed by the Americans...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:00 PM

      ( 11:59 AM ) The Rat  

Last year, officials said the females had arrived too late for pairing. And this year, the birds arrived in time, but were too shy.

"The Swedes are rather stand-offish," said zoo chief executive Heike Kueck.

Four local females were quickly snapped up but the rest of the 22 penguins ignored the newcomers and formed broody male couples.

Last year, homosexual militants bombarded the zoo with e-mails and protest letters, claiming it was interfering in the penguins' freedom of sexual orientation.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:59 AM

      ( 2:10 AM ) The Rat  

The next time Sychyova saw her 19-year-old son, it was at a hospital in Chelyabinsk. Doctors had amputated one leg, then the other, then his genitals, then the tip of his right ring finger. On New Year's Eve, her son said, his army mates tied him and forced him to squat for more than three hours, beating him repeatedly on the legs.

Gangrene had spread through his lower extremities and was threatening his kidneys, lungs and brain. He breathed with a respirator. His eyes only flickered when his mother peered anxiously into his face and repeated his name.

The Russian army is legendary for being almost as dangerous in peacetime as it is in war. Last year, 16 soldiers were officially listed as killed in brutal hazing incidents, and 276 others committed suicide.

But many believe those figures are misleading. A number of the 1,064 servicemen who died in various "crimes and incidents" were also victims of abuse, and many cases listed as suicides are faked to disguise fatal beatings, or occur because soldiers can no longer endure the torment, say military analysts...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:10 AM

      ( 2:02 AM ) The Rat  
Art reminds us of our youth, of that age when life [doesn't] need to have her face lifted every so often for you to consider her beautiful.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:02 AM

Thursday, February 09, 2006
      ( 9:36 AM ) The Rat  

The latest public figure to stand accused of defiling the Prophet Mohamed is not some Danish cartoonist, or French newspaper editor, but a hapless British Page 3 girl called Emma B.

Yesterday, the erotic retailer Ann Summers unveiled Miss B as the "face" of its new range of products.

Not 24 hours later, she finds herself on the front line of Islamic protest after Muslim leaders discovered that the range includes a new blow-up doll, called "Mustafa Shag."

Unfortunately, Mustafa was one of the names given to the Prophet Mohamed. Bestowing it upon, in the words of its catalogue, "an inflatable escort for your hen-night adventures" is considered highly offensive...

"We don't want to offend, but this feels like political correctness gone mad," [chief executive Jacqueline Gold] said. "If anyone has a better name for a blow-up doll, please let us know."

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:36 AM

      ( 8:35 AM ) The Rat  
What do we struggle over mostly? In the beginning—as anyone will have guessed who, after three years of procrastination, has thrown himself headlong and half convinced into the matrimonial flames—in the beginning we struggle over the toast.
The Professor of Desire

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:35 AM

Wednesday, February 08, 2006
      ( 9:08 PM ) The Rat  

A study by Florida State University professor Robin Simon and Vanderbilt University's Ranae Evenson found that parents have significantly higher levels of depression than adults who do not have children. Even more surprising, the symptoms of depression do not go away when the kids grow up and move out of the house.

[The study] also found that certain types of parents have higher levels of depression than other parents. Parents of adult children, whether they live at home or not, and parents who do not have custody of their minor children have more symptoms of depression. This means that parents living with their minor children, whether they are biological, adopted or stepchildren, have the least symptoms of depression—a finding that contradicts the assumption that these parents have the most distress.

"Young children in some ways are emotionally easier," Simon said. "Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems." [...]

The findings do not mean that parents don't find any pleasure in their roles; it's just that the emotional costs can outweigh the psychological benefits. That's because,as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, but in the United States, parents don't necessarily have community support or help from extended family.

"It's how we do parenting in this society," Simon said. "We do it in a very isolated way and the onus is on us as individuals to get it right. Our successes are our own, but so are our failures. It's emotionally draining."

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:08 PM

      ( 9:02 PM ) The Rat  
CLICK HERE to read about zombie cockroaches!

[The female] Ampulex compressa finds a cockroach to make her egg's host, and proceeds to deliver two precise stings. The first she delivers to the roach's mid-section, causing its front legs to buckle. The brief paralysis caused by the first sting gives the wasp the luxury of time to deliver a more precise sting to the head.

The wasp slips her stinger through the roach's exoskeleton and directly into its brain. She apparently use ssensors along the sides of the stinger to guide it through the brain, a bit like a surgeon snaking his way to an appendix with a laparoscope. She continues to probe the roach's brain until she reaches one particular spot that appears to control the escape reflex. She injects a second venom that influences these neurons in such a way that the escape reflex disappears.

From the outside, the effect is surreal. The wasp does not paralyze the cockroach. In fact, the roach is able to lift up its front legs again and walk. But now it cannot move of its own accord. The wasp takes hold of one of the roach's antennae and leads it—in the words of Israeli scientists who study Ampulex—like a dog on a leash.

The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp's burrow. The roach creeps obediently into the burrow and sits there quietly, while the wasp plugs up the burrow with pebbles. Now the wasp turns to the roach once more and lays an egg on its underside. The roach does not resist. The egg hatches, and the larva chews a hole in the side of the roach. In it goes.

The larva grows inside the roach, devouring the organs of its host, for about eight days. It is then ready to weave itself a cocoon—which it makes within the roach as well. After four more weeks, the wasp grows to an adult. It breaks out of its cocoon, and out of the roach as well. Seeing a full-grown wasp crawl out of a roach suddenly makes those Alien movies look pretty derivative...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:02 PM

      ( 11:36 AM ) The Rat  

A Chinese editor has died as a result of a police beating he received for his paper's reporting on corruption, journalists and rights groups say.

Wu Xianghu had been in hospital since the attack in October, suffering from an existing liver problem made worse by the beating, earlier reports said.

Wu was reportedly attacked by some 50 policemen...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:36 AM

      ( 11:31 AM ) The Rat  

Today, [Barton] will unveil a beta-test version of, the latest website to offer property information that has until recently been beyond the reach of the average buyer or seller who didn't engage a real estate agent.

As Barton sees it, Zillow can be the real estate equivalent of the auto world's Kelley Blue Book. By typing in an address, the user gets an instant valuation of one home or all homes on a street or neighborhood.

To get that information, Zillow would pore over county records and other government data on 60 million homes nationwide. It then would use proprietary computer analysis to determine current values, which the company calls "zestimates."

The Seattle-based company's objective is to create as complete a record as possible on individual properties. Providing a home's history, including all past sales transactions, tax assessments and other details, should help put buyers and sellers on better footing during a real estate transaction, Barton says...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:31 AM

      ( 9:01 AM ) The Rat  

Shanghai has built its reputation on commerce and Beijing is the Communist Party's seat of power. But Chengdu has carved out another title: China's party capital.

With about 3,000 pubs and karaoke bars and roughly 4,000 teahouses that are often packed with people playing or betting on mah-jongg and cards, this southwestern city in Sichuan province knows how to live it up. Chengdu, the provincial capital, has more bars than Shanghai, though its population of 10.5 million is half that of the eastern metropolis.

A survey of residents in 10 large Chinese cities found that Chengdu ranked last in income—about $190 a month—almost half of Shanghai's figure. But Chengdu rated higher than Shanghai and every other city except Hangzhou in "happiness"...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:01 AM

      ( 12:41 AM ) The Rat  
WOMAN DOES 'MOUTH-TO-BEAK' TO SAVE CHICKEN. IKM, after giving me the link: "Yeah, I knew this would be your kind of thing."

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:41 AM

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
      ( 11:46 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:46 PM

      ( 11:36 PM ) The Rat  
SCIENTISTS DISCOVER MOST FERTILE IRISH MALE. And here, a "What Do You Think?" on the story.

Speaking of the Onion, don't miss this week's horoscopes.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:36 PM

      ( 11:33 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:33 PM

Monday, February 06, 2006
      ( 11:44 PM ) The Rat  

An astonishing mist-shrouded "lost world" of previously unknown and rare animals and plants high in the mountain rainforests of New Guinea has been uncovered by an international team of scientists.

Among the new species of birds, frogs, butterflies and palms discovered in the expedition through this pristine environment, untouched by man, was the spectacular Berlepsch's six-wired bird of paradise. The scientists are the first outsiders to see it. They could only reach the remote mountainous area by helicopter, which they described it as akin to finding a "Garden of Eden."

In a jungle camp site, surrounded by giant flowers and unknown plants, the researchers watched rare bowerbirds perform elaborate courtship rituals. The surrounding forest was full of strange mammals, such as tree kangaroos and spiny anteaters, which appeared totally unafraid, suggesting no previous contact with humans...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:44 PM

      ( 7:37 PM ) The Rat  
SEE, WE DO TRY! According to an poll: "11% of women say their top New Year's resolution is to stop being such a bitch."

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:37 PM

      ( 2:49 AM ) The Rat  
BECAUSE I'M ALL ABOUT KEEPING MY SQUID HAPPY. OK, ET, picking up your meme. What the hell, I think I've finally kicked that nasty sleeping habit anyway.

Four movies I could watch over and over—hmm, tricky, since I don't usually like watching movies multiple times, but here's some possibles:
A Fish Called Wanda—"I've met sheep that could outwit you! I've worn dresses with higher IQs!"
Sabrina (dir. Billy Wilder)—"This is the twentieth century." "The twentieth century? Why, I could pick a century out of a hat, blindfolded, and come up with a better one!"
The Manchurian Candidate—Because Angela Lansbury is just so, so delicious in it.
The Lion in Winter—Yeah, I know, I'm repeating. But in my defense, I knew how cool this movie was years before the Squid did! Ha! (P.S. It also works pretty well as a play, or did in the production I saw at NU in '95.)

Four places I've lived (not the only places I've lived, but we're doing things in fours here right?):
Taipei. Too damn hot. Love the expat experience of listening to English-language radio in East Asia though. And, the bridges and lights are beautiful at night.
Orange County, Calif. No, I don't have a soul. Next question.
Paris. Have spent about six weeks there in all. Fell into conversation with an NYC-transplanted Parisienne, my last time through Charles de Gaulle, and told her that if I'd been from there I would never have left. She admitted that it was a good place to visit, but said that the people were far too—and made a gesture to indicate "tunnel vision." Sadly, I know she's right. But it's still where I go when I need to remember what life can be.
New York. Love-hate relationship, est. 1996.

Four TV shows I watch (uh... when I have a TV that is):
Are You Being Served? Duh.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Because it's nice being reminded there are people (well, fictional people at least) more pathological than me.
Cheers. Actually I don't watch this anymore, having already committed all the dialogue to memory by the end of high school...
Columbo. Yeah, I'm a dork. But at least the title character supposedly was inspired by Porfiry Petrovich.

Four comfort foods:
Macaroni and cheese—Stouffer's for choice
Fresh baguette with butter (this doesn't work Stateside)
Ice cream
Anything my mom cooks—because she could take a dead rat and a pinch of salt and make it taste like a dream.

Four things I think I'm slowly figuring out:
How NOT to act like the chick in When She Was Good (slowly figuring out, I said)
Whether there is anything intelligent to say, anything at all, about Absalom, Absalom!
Whether I could summarize, in 3-4 sentences each, why I love my 20 or so favorite writers (this post will be out... at some point)
When to back Athens, when to back Jerusalem

Four books I read because of something I saw on the Internet—hmm, not sure I can think of anything that falls in this category. So to fill the space, how about four books I read just because their titles and/or covers caught my eye as I was going down a library or used-book shop aisle:
John McPhee, OrangesHarper's reviewer, when it was first published: "This is a surprising book. You may come to the end of it and say to yourself, 'But I can't have read a whole book about oranges!'"
Robin Baker, Sperm Wars: The Science of Sex—Because there can be only one!
Rick Moody, The Ice Storm, just because I liked this cover design so much (sadly, the book sucked and I had to resell it; the movie was terrific though)
Margery Wolf, Women and the Family in Rural Taiwan—Ratty's crazy-ass family actually makes a lot more sense after you read a few books of Chinese/Taiwanese anthropology.

And, as a bonus, here are four books I'd be reading right now if I weren't horrendously backlogged with work:
Michael Wood, Literature and the Taste of Knowledge
Anonymous, A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City—A Diary
Walter Benjamin, Illuminations
probably something of Chekhov's, or poss. a re-read of Dead Souls

Four things I wish I could have in my home:
A dog. Well, actually two dogs.
A garden, and facilities for orchids
One of these!
The knowledge that I didn't have to move again at the end of the academic year

Four scraps from notes:
List of 23 authors I've tried, or am still trying, to read in their entirety
List of signs I'm getting old, incl. "I really do prefer the aisle seat" and "I enjoy virtuous cereals"
Reminder to write a fan letter to Jeffrey Steingarten
List of things that are true of TCB, that I meant never to tolerate in a consort (sample entries: "learned the colors of the rainbow in the wrong direction"; "dislikes bananas")

Four scraps from the furry book (mine's not furry, but I do keep a catchall notebook of the same type):
"This is the great tragedy of California, for a life oriented to leisure is in the end a life oriented to death—the greatest leisure of all." (Anne Lamott, quoting an op-ed by her late father)
"[A] woman can have three things—marriage, kids, and a career—but the catch is, she can do only two of them well." Now-current saying, quoted in a magazine article I read a few months back.
"I suddenly feel like I'm in some horrible early Platonic dialogue." (Said to me by ET mid-conversation; I don't remember what I had said that prompted it.)
"There's a billion people on the planet. What does any life really mean, but in a marriage you're promising to care about everything—the good things, the bad things, terrible things, the mundane things—all of it, all the time. You're saying your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness." (Susan Sarandon in Shall We Dance?, a movie I would never watch, but again, I got this quote reading an article.)

Four books I've recommended in the past week (hmm, let's make that the last month; I haven't been that pushy, or that social, this week):
Our Culture: What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses, recommended to MSB
Light in August, recommended to TCB
The Portrait of a Lady, recommended to ET
Henderson the Rain King, to be given to KD

Four books I've had recommended to me in ditto—you seem to think I was listening?! No, but seriously, I've been kinda underground this week, so how about two books + two movies I've had recommended to me, that I actually liked?
Pig Earth, given by MFB
Reading Lolita in Tehran, recommended by ET
Chungking Express, recommended by TCB
Unforgiven, recommended by MLY

Four pop lyrics, because... why not:

And if you've got to sleep a moment on the road
I will steer for you
And if you want to work the street alone
I'll disappear for you
If you want a father for your child
Or only want to walk with me a while
Across the sand
I'm your man
(Leonard Cohen; this is how we would like men to relate to us)

Does she walk? Does she talk?
Does she come complete?
My homeroom homeroom angel
Always pulled me from my seat

She was pure like snowflakes
No one could ever stain
The memory of my angel
Could never cause me pain

Years go by, I'm lookin' through a girlie magazine
And there's my homeroom angel on the pages in between

My blood runs cold
My memory has just been sold
My angel is the centerfold
Angel is the centerfold...
(J. Geils Band; the full trajectory of this song—lyrics here—IMO captures how men actually relate to us)

Siempre que te pregunto
Que cuándo cómo y dónde
Tú siempre me respondes
Quizás, quizás, quizás

A sí pasan los días
Y yo voy desesperando
Y tú, tú, tú, contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás,

Estás perdiendo el tiempo
Pensando, pensando
Por lo que más tú quieras
Hasta cuando, hasta cuando

Y así pasan los días
Y yo voy desesperando
Y tú, tú contestando
Quizás, quizás, quizás
(Nat King Cole; used to great effect in this movie)

Well I'm sitting here thinking just how sharp I am
Yeah I'm sitting here thinking just how sharp I am
I'm a necessary talent behind every rock and roll band
(Rolling Stones, but they clearly were really singing about literary critics)

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:49 AM

      ( 2:47 AM ) The Rat  
Lovely weather for hanging yourself.
Uncle Vanya

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 AM

Sunday, February 05, 2006
      ( 11:23 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:23 PM

      ( 10:55 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:55 PM

      ( 5:21 PM ) The Rat  
HAVE YOU CHECKED TO SEE if you've picked up any new personality disorders lately?

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:21 PM

      ( 1:04 PM ) The Rat  
AWESOME. From an e-mail just forwarded by one of Ratty's brothers:

A study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry has revealed that the kind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle. For example: If she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features. However, if she is menstruating, or menopausal, she tends to prefer a man with scissors lodged in his temple and a bat jammed up his *ss while he is on fire. Further studies in this area have been canceled due to a lack of male volunteers stepping forward to help.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:04 PM

      ( 12:52 PM ) The Rat  
The real luxuries were space and beauty—and the time to enjoy them. With three other junior doctors, I rented a large and elegant colonial house, old by the standards of a country settled by whites only 80 years previously, set in beautiful grounds tended by a garden "boy" called Moses (the "boy" in garden boy or houseboy implied no youth: once, in East Africa, I was served by a houseboy who was 94, who had lived in the same family for 70 years, and would have seen the suggestion of retirement as insulting). Surrounding the house was a red flagstone veranda, where breakfast was served on linen in the cool of the morning, the soft light of the sunrise spreading through the foliage of the flame and jacaranda trees; even the harsh cry of the go-away bird seemed grateful on the ear. It was the only time in my life when I have arisen from bed without a tinge of regret.
—Theodore Dalrymple, "After Empire"

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:52 PM

Saturday, February 04, 2006
      ( 7:48 PM ) The Rat  
SOME NIFTY PICS. The one of the Sacré-Coeur as seen through the clock at the Orsay (third from the right, second row) is Ratty's favorite. (Duh.)

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:48 PM

      ( 6:59 PM ) The Rat  
WEIRDLY HYPNOTIC. Click here for the chicken wing game.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:59 PM

      ( 1:51 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:51 AM

      ( 1:27 AM ) The Rat  
OH NO! Thanks to IKM for the link.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:27 AM

      ( 1:22 AM ) The Rat  
I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:22 AM

Friday, February 03, 2006
      ( 11:58 AM ) The Rat  
EVERYWHERE I LOOK, something reminds me of TCB.

Police said the first complaint came in at 9:36 a.m. Thursday after a woman encountered a naked man on a road. As she drove around him, he charged the vehicle, hit the right fender and jumped on the hood, smashing the windshield and breaking off the passenger side mirror, authorities said.

He slid off and was lying on the road but got up into a football-type stance and charged a second vehicle as it approached, damaging a fender.

He then opened the door, climbed in the vehicle and sat down, authorities said...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:58 AM

      ( 11:57 AM ) The Rat  
WHALE SOUL FOR SALE. Because really, what else were you going to put over the mantelpiece?

It used to be a practice confined to pacts with the devil, but now an anonymous vendor in America is offering to sell the soul of the London whale.

The Northern Bottlenosed Whale died two weeks ago after swimming up the Thames.

"I was accompanying the poor whale in his last journey, and he handed his soul to me. He asked me to sell it, so I could invest the money raised in other bottlenosed whales," said the seller from Minneapolis, giving the whale the wrong gender...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:57 AM

      ( 11:55 AM ) The Rat  

Police are investigating whether as many as seven teenage girls have been sexually assaulted by men they met through the popular Web site The girls, ages 12 to 16, are from Middletown and say they were fondled or had consensual sex with men who turned out to be older than they claimed...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:55 AM

      ( 12:46 AM ) The Rat  
RATTY IS ALL IN FAVOR of the burlesque revival, but dude, what's up with Dita Von Teese marrying Marilyn Manson?!

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:46 AM

      ( 12:07 AM ) The Rat  
CAN YOU IMAGINE WAKING UP ONE MORNING and reading this headline about yourself?

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:07 AM

      ( 12:05 AM ) The Rat  
You never really know a man until you have divorced him.
—Zsa Zsa Gabor

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:05 AM

Thursday, February 02, 2006
      ( 5:30 PM ) The Rat  
WHEN IT COMES TO BATS, SIZE MATTERS. The story's from over a week ago, but oh, so worth it.

A research team led by Syracuse University biologist Scott Pitnick found that in bat species where the females are promiscuous, the males boasting the largest testicles also had the smallest brains. Conversely, where the females were faithful, the males had smaller testes and larger brains.

"It turns out size does matter," said Pitnick, whose findings were published in December in "Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Science," an online journal. The study offers evidence that males—at least in some species—make an evolutionary trade-off between intelligence and sexual prowess...

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:30 PM

      ( 1:34 PM ) The Rat  

And if so, I need more ammo...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:34 PM

      ( 12:08 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:08 PM

      ( 11:52 AM ) The Rat  

A 100-pound woman ate 26 grilled cheese sandwiches in 10 minutes Wednesday at a New York restaurant, winning the World Grilled Cheese Eating Championship.

Sonya Thomas won $8,000 for the contest at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Times Square but said she was disappointed in her performance. "I could have done better," she said, adding that she was aiming for 30 sandwiches...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:52 AM

      ( 11:51 AM ) The Rat  

Experts who conducted tests on 40 songbirds found dead in Vienna say they didn’t die of bird flu as initially feared, but slammed into windows after becoming intoxicated from eating fermented berries.

The birds had livers so diseased "they looked like they were chronic alcoholics," Sonja Wehsely, a spokeswoman for Vienna’s veterinary authority, told Austrian television today. All died of broken necks after slamming into windowpanes, apparently after gorging themselves on berries that had begun to rot, turning the juice inside to alcohol...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:51 AM

      ( 10:00 AM ) The Rat  
APPLE SUED FOR POTENTIAL HEARING LOSS. Gee, never saw this one coming.

John Kiel Patterson, a Louisiana man has reportedly filed a lawsuit claiming that Apple's iPod music player can cause loss of hearing to its users.

According to the complaint, Apple iPods can produce sounds of more than 115 decibels, a volume to which if exposed to more than 28 seconds per day, can damage the hearing of a person. The complaint goes on to say that the players, inherently defective in design are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss.

The suit goes on to say that Patterson bought an iPod last year but does not specify whether he did suffer hearing loss as a result of using the device...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:00 AM

      ( 9:51 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:51 AM

      ( 2:06 AM ) The Rat  
MUHAMMAD CARTOON ROW INTENSIFIES. Dang, maybe there are still a few people left in Europe who've got a $#@! spine?

Newspapers across Europe have reprinted caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to show support for a Danish paper whose cartoons have sparked Muslim outrage.

Seven publications in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain all carried some of the drawings...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:06 AM

      ( 12:11 AM ) The Rat  
WHAT YOUR DRINK SAYS ABOUT YOU, via WaiterRant. Great stuff. Thanks to ET for flagging this.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:11 AM

      ( 12:10 AM ) The Rat  
THE WORLD'S WEIRDEST FESTIVALS. Can't remember what I was doing when I found this.

[Talkeetna, Alaska:] When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When nature gives you moose poop, drop it on people from hot-air balloons...

[Porto, Portugal:] One of Europe's liveliest festivals, yet one of the least known, is in Portugal's second largest city of Porto. Saint John, the patron saint of lovers, watches over as the town gets all lit up, decked out, and the good food flows like sweet Port wine.

Then the hammers come out. No one knows why, but should you meet a member of the opposite sex who stirs your instincts, just whack her in the head with a big plastic hammer...

[Rayne, Louisiana:] To quote from the festival website: "You can bring your own frog or rent one"...

[Gloucester, England:] No radical sport can be truly radical unless the injuries are caused by cheese. We're talking manly broken bones, brawny sprains and macho bruises as the rewards for chasing a huge block of cheese (about 8 pounds of double Gloucester) down a hill...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:10 AM

      ( 12:09 AM ) The Rat  
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
—Thomas Mann

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:09 AM

Wednesday, February 01, 2006
      ( 9:17 PM ) The Rat  

Keith Olbermann, host, 'Countdown': I heard a description of the average date in an advertisement on the radio today. And it was this: You might as well just punch yourself in a sensitive part of your body and throw away $50 bucks.

And I can understand that description if it was somebody my age, but it sounded like it was a kid of about 20 speaking. That was your age when you hit the "I'm sick of all this" wall. What was the last straw?

Maria Headley, went on over 150 dates in one year: The last straw was a guy who called me up and said, "I'm listening to NPR. Do you want to come over and make out?"

And that just wasn't an aphrodisiac quality there for me. I thought, "I'm dating the wrong kind of guy." And I thought I was getting so many offers elsewhere, just walking down the street in New York—there are eight million—you know, I thought there must be something different out there...

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:17 PM

      ( 7:04 PM ) The Rat  
WORDS HELP DETERMINE WHAT WE SEE. Ratty is absolutely fascinated by this kind of thing.

Scholars have long debated whether our native language affects how we perceive reality—and whether speakers of different languages might therefore see the world differently. The idea that language affects perception is controversial, and results have conflicted. A paper published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences supports the idea—but with a twist. [...]

Many of the distinctions made in English do not appear in other languages, and vice versa. For instance, English uses two different words for the colors blue and green, while many other languages—such as Tarahumara, an indigenous language of Mexico—instead use a single color term that covers shades of both blue and green. An earlier study by Paul Kay and colleagues had shown that speakers of English and Tarahumara perceive colors differently: English speakers found blues and greens to be more distinct from each other than speakers of Tarahumara did, as if the English "green" / "blue" linguistic distinction sharpened the perceptual difference between the colors themselves...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:04 PM

      ( 6:55 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:55 PM

      ( 6:41 PM ) The Rat  
FUNNY WOMEN ARE A TURN-OFF. Check out the subhead! Thanks to IKM for the story.

New research has found truth in the old stereotype that most men find funny women a turn-off.

Scientists say women who tell jokes are seen as a threat, undermining men’s idea that they should hold the dominant role.

Hundreds of men and women in their twenties were questioned by academics. Most said they found a sense of humour to be attractive in women—but when asked if they would want to be with a woman who cracked jokes herself, more than half said no.

Dr Rod Martin, whose research will be published in the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behaviour this week, said his findings suggested men feel threatened by witty women...

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:41 PM

      ( 6:36 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:36 PM

      ( 2:24 PM ) The Rat  
FOR EVERYONE WHO EVER HAD A SIBLING: McSweeney's Things My Brother Has That I Don't.

Also check out Things Not Overheard at a Conceptual-Art Gallery Opening, Dissertation Titles That Suggest the Author Was Preoccupied With Other Issues at the Time of Writing, Things My Girlfriend Did Not Say After I Told Her That I Sometimes Feel Stuck, and Reasons I Don't Feel Like Family When at the Olive Garden.

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:24 PM

      ( 11:40 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:40 AM

      ( 11:09 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:09 AM

      ( 8:29 AM ) The Rat  

The group, which calls itself the "Japan Doting Husbands Association," urged men to get home by 8 p.m. and say thanks to their wives for all they do.

"Many men can't put their feelings of gratitude toward their wives into words. Work is number one for them," the non-profit group says on its Website,

"This attitude is putting Japanese marriages under great pressure."

Statistics bear this out. Japan's divorce rate has risen steadily over the years. In 2004, more than one in three marriages ended in divorce.

The group urges men to improve the marital mood through five "golden rules" including going home early, calling wives by their given name and looking them in the eyes when talking.

Many Japanese husbands call their wives "you" rather than addressing them by name, or in some cases merely grunt.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:29 AM

      ( 8:11 AM ) The Rat  
The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:11 AM

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

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