The Rat
Thursday, August 31, 2006
      ( 9:50 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 9:50 PM

      ( 2:32 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:32 PM

      ( 11:44 AM ) The Rat  
HEE! Given what Welsh is like, this should really surprise no one...

Welsh-speaking cyclists have been left baffled—and possibly concerned for their health—after a bizarre translation mix-up.

For instead of a road sign telling them to dismount, the Welsh translation informs them that 'bladder disease has returned.'

The temporary sign, placed in front of the roadworks at Barons Court roundabout between Penarth and Cardiff, correctly says 'cyclists dismount' in English, but says 'llid y bledren dymchwelyd' in Welsh...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:44 AM

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
      ( 1:06 PM ) The Rat  
[W]hen we find in real life a desire for melodramatic effect, it is generally sadism that is responsible for it.
Swann's Way

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:06 PM

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
      ( 12:37 AM ) The Rat  
Armed with a diagram and a clipboard, Katharine would get into a shabby old Brooks raincoat much too long for her, put on a little round wool hat, pull on a pair of overshoes, and proceed to the director's chair—a folding canvas thing—that had been placed for her at the edge of the plot. There she would sit, hour after hour, in the wind and the weather, while Henry Allen produced dozens of brown paper packages of new bulbs and a basketful of old ones, ready for the intricate interment. As the years went by and age overtook her, there was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance—the small, hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days, which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.
—from E.B. White's introduction to a book on gardening by his late wife, Katharine S. White

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:37 AM

Monday, August 28, 2006
      ( 6:47 PM ) The Rat  

China may be giving striptease funerals the last rites after officials arrested five people and ordered an end to the practise, state media said.

Strip shows have been commonly used to attract more mourners to funerals, as villagers believe a crowded send-off brings more honor to the deceased, Xinhua news agency said.

But police took action after state television exposed the "obscene performances" at a funeral in Donghai county, Jiangsu province, with 200 people including children in attendance, it said. [...]

After the television report, the local government quickly issued an order to stop the practice and demanded that village committees have to report details of each funeral plan within 12 hours after a villager dies.

A hotline was also set up for residents to report on "funeral misdeeds," it said. The funeral striptease is also a popular custom in parts of Taiwan.

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:47 PM

      ( 6:15 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:15 PM

      ( 2:38 AM ) The Rat  
TO HER FRIENDS not currently in California, Arizona, or Nevada, Ratty says: Don't hate me because I just ate here... hate me because it was soooo impossibly scrumptious!

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:38 AM

Sunday, August 27, 2006
      ( 5:50 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:50 PM

      ( 3:31 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 3:31 PM

      ( 2:47 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:47 PM

      ( 11:59 AM ) The Rat  
L.A. TIMES MAGAZINE PROFILE (from earlier this month) of Joe Francis, founder of the "Girls Gone Wild" empire.

Szyszka tells me later that as she was spinning around the strip pole that night, Francis appeared, grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him. "You are so going on the bus later," she recalls Francis saying. "I was like, 'Um, OK.' I was shocked. I was like, 'Whoa—Joe's, like, trying to talk to me, like out of all the girls in here.'" Francis invited her back to the VIP area to do shots with him, she says, and she said yes.

Szyszka says the more shots she drank, the cloudier her judgment became. She says she agreed to join Francis and his crew on the "Girls Gone Wild" bus. "I thought 'Girls Gone Wild' was like flashing, and I thought I would flash them and be done. And so when I'm walking to the bus, that's all I'm thinking is going to happen."

Footage from that night shows a close-up of Szyszka's driver's license, proving she's not a minor. The camera then captures Szyszka lying on the bed. Her nails are chipped, her eyes coated with makeup. Following a camerman's instructions, she shows her breasts and says, "Girls Gone Wild." She seems shy but willing. She smiles. The unseen cameraman asks her to take off her shirt, her skirt, then her underwear. She sprawls on the bed, her legs open. At his suggestion, she masturbates with a dildo, saying repeatedly that it hurts but also feels good. Francis enters the room at certain points and you hear his voice, low and flirtatious, telling her, "You are so adorable." When she says she's a virgin, he responds: "Great. You won't be after my cameraman gets done with you."

When I talk to Szyszka seven days later, she says she "didn't quite realize" she was being filmed. "But I didn't care because I was drunk and who cares?" Then she adds: "It didn't feel good to me at all, but I was totally faking it because I was on 'Girls Gone Wild.'"

Eventually, Szyszka says, Francis told the cameraman to leave and pushed her back on the bed, undid his jeans and climbed on top of her. "I told him it hurt, and he kept doing it. And I keep telling him it hurts. I said, 'No' twice in the beginning, and during I started saying, 'Oh, my god, it hurts.' I kept telling him it hurt, but he kept going, and he said he was sorry but kissed me so I wouldn't keep talking."

Afterward, she says, Francis cleaned them both off with a paper towel and told her to get dressed. Then, she says, he opened the door and told the cameraman to come back, saying, "She's not a virgin anymore."

Szyszka says Francis told her that what happened had to stay between them...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:59 AM

      ( 10:48 AM ) The Rat  
THE FERTILITY GAP. Also from last week.

On the political left, raising the youth vote is one of the most common goals. This implicitly plays to the tired old axiom that a person under 30 who is not a liberal has no heart (whereas one who is still a liberal after 30 has no head). The trouble is, while most "get out the vote" campaigns targeting young people are proxies for the Democratic Party, these efforts haven't apparently done much to win elections for the Democrats. The explanation we often hear from the left is that the new young Democrats are more than counterbalanced by voters scared up by the Republicans on "cultural issues" like abortion, gun rights and gay marriage.

But the data on young Americans tell a different story. Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20%—explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:48 AM

      ( 10:35 AM ) The Rat  

A Chinese woman who contracted HIV during hospital surgery said she was attacked while she and other patients pleaded with the government for compensation.

Wang Qiuyun, 38, said a security guard at the central Chinese city of Hebi in Henan province threw her against some stairs and kicked her in the abdomenon Wednesday after she and three other female patients insisted on seeing the mayor.

The guard picked up a broom and threaten to beat her but was stopped by the other sufferers and guards...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:35 AM

      ( 8:06 AM ) The Rat  
'LITTLE EMPERORS' LEARN THE HARD WAY IN CHINA, via the L.A. Times. Yet another business venture I wish I'd thought of first.

Asked whether anyone has ever been beaten by his teacher, all the boys point to Chen Chen. The 12-year-old lifts up his shirt. Sure enough, there are four faint welts on his back from the feared whip.

"Of course it hurt," Chen acknowledged. "But it was because I misbehaved."

"We were all scared to death," classmate Xia Jingying chimed in.

If you think these children are victims of substandard public schooling, think again. Their parents paid to send them here to West Point, a popular boot camp named after the American military academy but designed to straighten out the "little emperors" of China's one-child generation.

For more than two decades, China's strict family planning policy has created a culture in which the coveted lone male heirs tend to run amok at home and in school because besotted parents forget to teach them the meaning of discipline.

One woman believes the only way to rein in all these spoiled boys is to stop sparing the rod. At Wan Guoyin's West Point, every child knows the consequences of bad behavior.

The worst offenders get a whipping, minus their shirts, even in the dead of winter, and in front of the entire school. Minor offenses such as cussing can result in being forced to swallow a spoonful of hot chili sauce or chew on a bitter herb that turns the tongue yellow for hours.

"I saw a kid spit it out and throw up," said Zheng Dongxin, 12. "The teacher made him eat twice as much!"

"We do it more for the humiliation than the pain," said Wan, 47...

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:06 AM

Saturday, August 26, 2006
      ( 11:50 PM ) The Rat  
BREAKING DOWN 'FENCES.' Interesting piece on how Wilson's play has affected American theater.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:50 PM

      ( 12:45 AM ) The Rat  
A PASSAGE from Susan Orlean that Ratty's had on her mind lately.

Past John Stretch Park the roads bent through towns called Devil's Garden and Bean City and Citrus Center and Harlem and Flag Hole and around wetlands called Telegraph Swamp and Corkscrew Swamp and Grassy Marsh and Graham Marsh. The land was marble-smooth and it rolled without a pucker to the horizon. My eyes grazed across the green band of ground and the blue bowl of sky and then lingered on a dead tire, a bird in flight, an old fence, a rusted barrel. Hardly any cars came toward me, and I passed so many vacant acres and looked past them to so many more vacant acres and looked ahead and behind at the empty road and up at the empty sky; the sheer bigness of the world made me feel lonely to the bone. The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. There are too many ideas and things and people, too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility. If I had been an orchid hunter I wouldn't have seen this space as sad-making and vacant—I would have seen it as acres of opportunity where the things I loved were waiting to be found...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:45 AM

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
      ( 10:36 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:36 PM

Thursday, August 17, 2006
      ( 12:01 AM ) The Rat  
SCARY SHIT INDEED. From Joan Juliet Buck's review, in the August Vogue, of the BBC's new modernizations of four Shakespeare plays.

The exceptional actor James McAvoy brings a boxer's wiry energy and a soft sweetness to Joe Macbeth, a talented young chef working for the much more famous Duncan Docherty, who appropriates his recipes. Joe is married to Ella (the equally good Keeley Hawes), who manages Duncan's restaurant where they both work, and when it receives its third Michelin star, she pushes Joe to kill the boss. Recasting the Scottish couple as a dreamy chef and his ambitious wife works perfectly. The dramatic potential of knives and food is used to the fullest, from the kitchen slicing of red vegetables—tomatoes, Treviso lettuce—to Joe cutting up a pig's head, to Ella smearing blood onto Duncan's kitchen whites before he goes out to meet the customers. The blasted heath is a garbage dump, the witches are garbage men, and instead of throwing eye of newt into the cauldron, they eat nasty sandwiches: corned beef and anchovy; egg mayonnaise and ketchup. Food is the metaphor for horror. By the time Joe becomes haunted by guilt and milk turns to blood, you never want to eat again...

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:01 AM

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
      ( 10:18 PM ) The Rat  

Children with older brothers and sisters find it easier to make people laugh, a survey has suggested.

Professor Wiseman, who compiled the Ocean Village Laughter Lines report, said his findings tied in with other research about the effect of family position on personality.

"[Youngest children] are risk-takers, and also more humorous. On the other hand, older children tend to take on much more serious roles. And only children don't feel the need to compete for attention."

He said University of California research had suggested that, because younger children had not had the chance to develop the same skills and abilities as their older siblings, they had to find novel ways of gaining attention.

This leads them to be more creative, unconventional, adventurous and rebellious.

The California team found that, while the majority of US presidents were first-borns—including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, revolutionaries, including Marx and Castro were younger siblings...

# Posted by The Rat @ 10:18 PM

      ( 8:47 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 8:47 AM

Saturday, August 05, 2006
      ( 12:37 AM ) The Rat  
BLOGGING WILL BE SPARSE for the next month or so. Meanwhile, why not read this story about manatees.

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:37 AM

Thursday, August 03, 2006
      ( 6:50 PM ) The Rat  
Life is an affair of people not of places. But for me life is an affair of places and that is the trouble...
—Wallace Stevens

# Posted by The Rat @ 6:50 PM

      ( 5:27 PM ) The Rat  
HEH! Via Cruel Site of the Day, a link to the growing list of rewards being offered for Ralph "Bucky" Phillips's capture, which includes but is not limited to: a 10' x 15' patio, a case of S'mores on the Run, and 100 custom birth announcements.

# Posted by The Rat @ 5:27 PM

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
      ( 11:33 PM ) The Rat  
L.A. ART FALLS FROM POMPIDOU'S WALLS. Don't really see why people are being so indignant—Europeans have always been less white-glove-ey about their museums than we are...

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:33 PM

      ( 7:46 PM ) The Rat  

Britain's biggest theme park has called off the country's first National Muslim Fun Day because of lack of interest, the park said.

Alton Towers in central England was to open on September 17 for Muslims—with halal food, a strict dress code and prayer areas.

Music, gambling and alcohol were to be banned for the day and theme park rides such as Ripsaw, Corkscrew and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all segregated by gender...

# Posted by The Rat @ 7:46 PM

      ( 2:24 PM ) The Rat  
This second experience commonly occurs accompanied by mixed feelings over having to acknowledge: 'Yes, it was just like that and I never knew it.' Roquentin in Sartre's Nausea looks back in amazement as he works on a biography and realizes that he has seen more of the world and of life than most people. The second beat of life comes to him after the living, and his 'adventures' are discovered in retrospect until the terror of nausea plunges him into something more urgent. But I cannot help feeling that the reverse order of events leads to the more authentic experience: literature establishes the terms in which later events will be met. Literature itself contains a host of illustrations of this process—Paolo and Francesca reading romances together, Don Quixote reading tales of chivalry, Julien Sorel reading Napoleon, Emma Bovary reading novels, Tom Sawyer reading pirate stories. The precise equilibrium of forces between life and literature is one of literature's major themes. Proust makes it particularly urgent by the massive steadiness with which his novel directs our attention back at ourselves. On what level, in what rhythm, with what intensity are we alive?
Proust's Binoculars

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:24 PM

      ( 2:05 PM ) The Rat  
APPARENTLY 'FOREVER' HAS BEEN OVER-RATED. Ratty doesn't watch TV, but this is still interesting...

Women were found on average to own 6.6 technology devices while men own 6.9, and four out of every five women felt comfortable using technology with 46 percent doing their own computer trouble-shooting.

"People make the assumption that women are not as advanced as men when it comes to technology and I was surprised at the parity men and women now have in terms of technology," Geraldine Laybourne, chairman and chief executive of Oxygen Network, told Reuters.

The study found 77 percent of women surveyed would prefer a new plasma television to a diamond solitaire necklace and 56 percent would opt for a new plasma TV over a weekend vacation in Florida...

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:05 PM

      ( 12:35 AM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 12:35 AM

Tuesday, August 01, 2006
      ( 2:32 PM ) The Rat  

# Posted by The Rat @ 2:32 PM

      ( 11:02 AM ) The Rat  
BROBDINGBABY! Ratty is an aunt! My nephew arrived last night, clocking in at 9 lbs. 3 oz., and 22 in. Considering that my sister-in-law's family are Korean and tiny, this is no doubt my brother's genes kicking in (my brothers are on the tall side for Asian men). The weight is also partly accounted for by the signature large heads that run in Ratty's family... Mother and baby are both doing fine.

# Posted by The Rat @ 11:02 AM

      ( 1:27 AM ) The Rat  

Redstall, a British-born actress from Studio City, admits to a lifelong fixation with serial killers and said meeting Ford in April—to interview him for a documentary—was "the dream of a lifetime."

She expected to be fascinated, she said, but not drawn into a deep bond with Ford that has caused a disruption in court and triggered an investigation by the Sheriff's Department.

"I trust Wayne with my life.... He's got such a kindness to him and such a conscience," she said, her eyes briefly filling with tears during an interview at a cafe in Studio City last week. "He is so tuned in to me and I to him that sometimes words don't have to be said."

Ford, a former long-haul truck driver, is on trial in San Bernardino County for crimes that would send most women running in the opposite direction. In 1997 and 1998, Ford murdered three prostitutes and a hitchhiker, dismembering two and dumping all four bodies in California waterways, before surrendering voluntarily with his final victim's breast in a Ziplock bag in his jacket pocket.

The irony of a model for breast enhancement pills, Herbal Grobust, seeking out a killer with a breast fetish is not lost on her, and she addresses it with the dark humor that both shocks and entertains the people she talks to in the courtroom.

"It's hysterical," she said...

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:27 AM

      ( 1:19 AM ) The Rat  
So Sabbath passeth the time, pretending to think without punctuation, the way J. Joyce pretended people thought...
Sabbath's Theater

# Posted by The Rat @ 1:19 AM

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

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