How Restaurants Become Impervious to Criticism

From Grub Street:

I first heard the term “**** line” from a British journalist who’d spent years in the trenches of Fleet Street. He was describing a venerable old gasbag editor of his, a once-reputable gentleman who was now beyond reproach, despite the fact that he drank himself senseless at lunchtime and took lengthy afternoon naps. This was not meant as a putdown. On the contrary, those who ascend above the mythical demarcation are impervious to the random quibbles and criticisms of everyday life. Those below (i.e., most of us) are judged by harsher standards, and doomed to a life of striving and disappointment. But to be above the **** line is to enter the realm of immortality and myth.

When Wilde Met Whitman

From TNR:

On January 31, 1882, a partially paralyzed man living with his brother and sister-in-law in a row house in Camden, New Jersey, wrote to a friend to tell him of a recent visitor to that home. “He is a fine large handsome youngster,” the man wrote of that guest. And “he had the good sense to take a great fancy to me.”

Thus Walt Whitman described the day he spent with Oscar Wilde. This meeting between the self-described “old rough” who revolutionized American poetry with his masterpiece Leaves of Grass and the self-anointed “Professor of Aesthetics” who was touring America with a lecture praising sconces and embroidered pillows, has been examined often in the intervening years, usually through the lens of what is now called queer history, or as an interesting, if not particularly consequential, moment in the history of literature.

But neither approach takes the true measure of the meeting’s importance. For Wilde didn’t travel to Camden to talk about gender roles or belles lettres. The writer was still years away from becoming the author whose peerlessly witty plays are still staged today. What drew him to Whitman’s home was the opportunity to discuss fame. He wanted to listen to the singer of “Song of Myself”an older man (Whitman was 62, Wilde 27) with inexhaustible energy, despite his infirmity, for self-promotion. Whitman was an international icon who exploited the fuzzy line between acclaim and notoriety and a media-savvy poet who understood the crucial role of image in the making of a literary career. Wilde didn’t travel to Camden to learn how to be a famous writer. That, he was certain, he would later teach himself. He went to learn how to be a famous person. It would be hard to imagine a more apt pairing of teacher and student.

The London Beer Flood

From Gizmodo:

On October 17, 1814, over a quarter million gallons of beer were unleashed onto London’s streets. The 15-foot tall tidal wave of booze crashed into buildings and flooded cellars, even killing eight especially unfortunate souls. The culprit? A bursting vat.

The epicenter of the London Beer Flood was Horse Shoe Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, which was brewing porter in huge vats. A metal hoop on one of these vats snapped. The force unleashed by one bursting vat broke a several others, and pretty soon there was a flood of porter pouring through the streets.

NYT on Flash Mass

From the NYT:

CLEVELAND — The glory days of Holy Ghost Church were years ago, when Catholics packed into the wooden pews, beneath a starry barrel-vaulted ceiling, listening to bells and kissing icons as priests in colorful robes intoned in ancient tongues the liturgies of a faraway land.

The congregation dwindled so much that in 2009 the church was closed, but on a bright Sunday this summer, Holy Ghost was alive again. Mary Matei, visiting from Knoxville, Tenn., snapped pictures on her iPhone as priests sang Mass, while Ann Cogar and Sue Koch, sisters from suburban Cleveland, admired stained glass windows and statuary.

They were taking part in a Mass mob — the latest trend in Rust Belt Catholicism — which is part heritage tour and part mixer (crudités in the fellowship hall followed the service). The movement is bringing thousands of suburban Catholics to visit the struggling, and in some cases closed, urban churches of their parents and grandparents. It is also attracting much-needed donations.

Facebook Paying for Employees to Freeze Their Eggs

From NBC:

Two Silicon Valley giants now offer women a game-changing perk: Apple and Facebook will pay for employees to freeze their eggs.

Facebook recently began covering egg freezing, and Apple will start in January, spokespeople for the companies told NBC News. The firms appear to be the first major employers to offer this coverage for non-medical reasons.

“Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do,” said Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum Eggsurance.com. By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women, she said, and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.

When successful, egg freezing allows women to put their fertility on ice, so to speak, until they’re ready to become parents. But the procedure comes at a steep price: Costs typically add up to at least $10,000 for every round, plus $500 or more annually for storage.

1000 Year Old Viking Treasure Hoard Found

From Yahoo:

LONDON (Reuters) – A hoard of Viking gold and silver artifacts dating back over 1,000 years has been discovered by a treasure hunter with a metal detector in Scotland, in a find hailed by experts as one of the country’s most significant.

Derek McLennan, a retired businessman, uncovered the 100 items in a field in Dumfriesshire, southwest Scotland, in September.

Amongst the objects is a solid silver cross thought to date from the 9th or 10th century, a silver pot of west European origin, which is likely to have already been 100 years old when it was buried and several gold objects.

“Experts have begun to examine the finds, but it is already clear that this is one of the most significant Viking hoards ever discovered in Scotland,” Scotland’s Treasure Trove unit said in a statement.

Zero Hour

From Lapham’s Quarterly:

In The Burning of the World, his recently discovered memoir of the first few weeks of World War I, the Hungarian artist, officer, and man about town Béla Zombory-Moldován writes frequently about his attachment to his watch. When he’s wounded in the confusion of battle in the forests of Galicia, he finds the watch unscathed during an agonizing evacuation of the area, and exalts the survival of “my trusty companion, sharer of my fate, the comrade that connected me to my former life.” Much more than a watch, it’s almost a miracle: “Not just an object, but a true and staunch friend. I held it in my left hand and marveled at it as it measured off the seconds.”

How to tell time was a matter of survival and strategy during the Great War, a war in which communication technologies had to advance rapidly to keep pace with the new instruments of battle. The war was a crucible of innovation in destruction, in which chlorine gas, tanks, and heavy artillery choked, crushed, and obliterated human bodies in new ways. Vast armies dug in opposite each other across unprecedented distances—the Western Front alone stretched well over four hundred miles, from the Swiss border to the North Sea. Because much of the infantry went underground, it was no longer possible simply to holler or sound a hunting horn as a signal to attack, nor for regiments to advance proudly, and visibly, together on horseback. Instead, it became necessary to coordinate time and to tell it accurately; the practice and the phrasesynchronize watches was born from this need during the war. Officers in crowded trenches watched for second hands to tick down before blowing the whistle and rallying their men, who scrambled up ladders into the awaiting gunfire. The term zero hour, the moment of no return, was first recorded in the New York Times in November 1915: “At 5:05 a.m. September 25 a message came to the dugout that the ‘zero’ hour, that is, the time the gas was to be started, would be at 5:50 a.m.” The irony of ascribing a precise time for an attack as uncontrollable and weather-dependent as gas goes unmentioned.

Reviewing Tushnet’s Latest

This book looks interesting:

If you’re looking for a book that makes an argument for a traditional sexual ethic, we’d recommend searching for an alternative. Unlike many books written by people who hold conservative beliefs on Christian sexual morality, Gay and Catholic isn’t an apologetic. Tushnet takes the traditional sexual ethic as a given and admits that she doesn’t always understand the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings on human sexuality, noting that one can strive to live in accordance with teachings while still having a lot of questions. We find it absolutely refreshing that this book is not an argument for LGBT celibacy.

We found ourselves cheering as Sarah would for the St. Louis Cardinals or Lindsey for the Boston Red Sox when we read Tushnet’s description of how her approach to sexual ethics has changed:

When I first entered the Catholic Church I thought of my role–a lesbian-gay-bisexual-queer-same-sex-attracted Christian–as having two parts: the negative act of not having gay sex and the positive act of intellectually understanding the Church’s teachings. I now see my task much more simply, as the discernment and living out of my vocations: figuring out how God is calling me to love and then pouring myself out into that love.

The Adult in the Mirror

BD McClay:

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was this summer’s critical hit, achieving for a time a much-coveted 100 percent fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. (It now sits at 99 percent). The film follows a young Texan named Mason as he grows from a quiet child to a disaffected teen, ending when he becomes a college freshman. All of the time passed is real—Mason grows up over twelve years, which is how long the film took to make—and Linklater fills the background with references to remind the audience that these twelve years have passed for them, too. Everybody’s gotten older.

But nobody is growing up. Boyhood is a “coming of age” story only in the most formal sense. There’s no age to come into, no adulthood to achieve, and no adults to be found. Mason’s life is full of older people who burden him with clichéd advice, but they, too, are merely drifting from one event to another without really knowing why.  As Mason’s mother sends him off to college, she unloads her self-pity, telling Mason that raising him was her last “milestone” and that now all she has left is waiting for death. “I thought there would be more,” she says.  But if Mason has learned anything from his elders, it’s not to expect even that much.

This aimlessness is made pointedly clear in a scene in which Mason visits his step-grandparents for his fifteenth birthday. From them, he receives a suit, a Bible, and a gun. They are meant to be signs of his adulthood. But we know, and Mason knows, that he will never touch any of them. They are simply relics of an old way of being in the world, and not one that he wants or even can choose.

What should medicine do when it can’t save your life?

From the New Yorker:

Sara Thomas Monopoli was pregnant with her first child when her doctors learned that she was going to die. It started with a cough and a pain in her back. Then a chest X-ray showed that her left lung had collapsed, and her chest was filled with fluid. A sample of the fluid was drawn off with a long needle and sent for testing. Instead of an infection, as everyone had expected, it was lung cancer, and it had already spread to the lining of her chest. Her pregnancy was thirty-nine weeks along, and the obstetrician who had ordered the test broke the news to her as she sat with her husband and her parents. The obstetrician didn’t get into the prognosis—she would bring in an oncologist for that—but Sara was stunned. Her mother, who had lost her best friend to lung cancer, began crying.

The doctors wanted to start treatment right away, and that meant inducing labor to get the baby out. For the moment, though, Sara and her husband, Rich, sat by themselves on a quiet terrace off the labor floor. It was a warm Monday in June, 2007. She took Rich’s hands, and they tried to absorb what they had heard. Monopoli was thirty-four. She had never smoked, or lived with anyone who had. She exercised. She ate well. The diagnosis was bewildering. “This is going to be O.K.,” Rich told her. “We’re going to work through this. It’s going to be hard, yes. But we’ll figure it out. We can find the right treatment.” For the moment, though, they had a baby to think about.

“So Sara and I looked at each other,” Rich recalled, “and we said, ‘We don’t have cancer on Tuesday. It’s a cancer-free day. We’re having a baby. It’s exciting. And we’re going to enjoy our baby.’ ” On Tuesday, at 8:55 P.M., Vivian Monopoli, seven pounds nine ounces, was born. She had wavy brown hair, like her mom, and she was perfectly healthy.