Archive for the ‘Money & Finance’ Category

Daily Office:
Thursday

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

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Matins: In his review of Tyler Cowen’s Create Your Own Economy, Austin Frakt touches on what makes our working day possible. (Incidental Economist; via Marginal Revolution)

Lauds: How Terry Gilliam completed The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus after Heath Ledger’s death. It wasn’t just technical. (Speakeasy)

Prime: David Segal’s update on the failure to reform the ratings-agency biz in any meaningful way suggests that the conflict has little to do with lobbying (for once) but reveals a clash of visions, between bold (reckless) and cautious (ineffective). (NYT)

Tierce: Bad as “fast food” is, it may be safer than the stuff that the government provides to school cafeterias. (Good)

Sext: Does Mo’Nique really want that Best-Supporting-Actress Oscar? She sure sounds new to the Industry. (And the Winner Is…; via Arts Journal)

Nones: The opera buffa in Honduras too a turn for the seriously dramatic on Tuesday, with the assassination General Julian Aristides Gonzalez, the Honduran drug czar. The crime opens a window on our view of the local economy. (BBC News)

Vespers: Christopher Tayler (of the Guardian) visits Sir Frank Kermode on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday. (via The Second Pass)

Compline: They all laughed… but everybody’s looking at Roadtown now. (treehugger; via Good)

Daily Office:
Friday

Friday, December 4th, 2009

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Matins: In an extremely thoughtful piece that may alter the grain of your thought — or, as it our case, highlight the way in which you’re already inclined to think — Tony Judt asks us to consider why it is that, in the Anglophone world, we reduce all political questions to economic equations. He proposes a very persuasive, historically-bound answer to the question. Don’t miss it. (NYRB)

Lauds: Judith Jamison is looking to trade in “artistic director” for, perhaps, “Queen.” Those of us who were lucky enough to see her dance Revelations know just how aptly that very popular ballet is titled. (New York; via Arts Journal)

Prime: As the giving season is upon us, Tim Ogden plans a series of blog entries about the dangers of evaluating charities by overhead alone. (Philanthropy Action; via Felix Salmon)

Tierce: Melissa Lafsky urges us to stop trying to get more women to ride bicycles in urban areas, and focus instead upon making biking a lot safer than it is. (The Infrastructurist)

Sext: The things that Choire Sicha digs up on the Internets! From a blog called firmuhment, a thoroughly wicked “imagineering” of Zac Efron’s newfound, post-Orson intellectual sophistication. (via The Awl)

Nones: More Honduran predictability: the Congress declined, by a very large margin, to re-instate Manuel Zelaya in office for the weeks that remain to his term. The voting, 111-14 against Mr Zelaya, suggests that the ousted president is not a character worth fighting for. (NYT)

Vespers: In a backlist assessment that has the whole town talking, Natalia Antonova convinces us that she loves Vladimir Nabokov’s best-known book not in spite of her history as the victim of abuse but because of it. (The Second Pass)

Compline: Because it’s the weekend, we offer Ron Rosenbaum’s long and “Mysterian” query about consciousness and other unsolved mysteries as a way of killing time in the event of any dominical longueurs. Although we agree with his assessment of the the “facts” (ie questions), we do not, so to speak, share his affect.

While we recognize — insist! — that the universe remains profoundly mysterious, it doesn’t bother us in the least, because, really, it’s much too interesting to live with the mysteries that aren’t so profound. The profundity that Mr Rosenbaum highlights for us is the connection between adolescence and all forms of metaphysics. (Slate; via Arts Journal)

Bon weekend à tous!

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

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Matins: Tyler Cowen’s thoughts about Swiss minarets are appropriately complex. Referendums are deplorable, because they open the door as nothing else does to prejudice. “…knowing how and when to defuse an issue is one very large part of political wisdom.  The Swiss usually pass this test but this time they failed it.” (Marginal Revolution)

Lauds: The painter Francis Bacon could write well enough, but, John Richardson informs us, he could not draw. (NYRB; via 3 Quarks Daily)

Prime: Felix Salmon, with the help of a commenter called Dan, advances a new theory of investing — one that is market- (and liquidity- !) shy.

Tierce: 350 years of important publications by the Royal Society, celebrated at a new site, Trailblazing. (MetaFilter)

Sext: In the rarefied world of dissertation-land, is one woman’s prudence another man’s paranoia? (Chron Higher Ed; via The Morning News)

Nones: The Vatican continues to regard its affairs as lying beyond the writ and ken of civil authorities. “The Vatican should apologise for failing to co-operate with an inquiry into sex abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland, a Dublin bishop has said.” (BBC News)

Vespers: The Clutter murder, 50 years on. (Ed Pilkington at the Guardian)

Compline: Shock and Awl: Choire and Balk both driven batty by current events. Choire returns from Thanksgiving weekend viscerally alert to the Idiocracy afoot in the land. “Craziness: it’s not just for wingnuts anymore.” Meanwhile, Alex has Lady Gaga issues.

Although both pieces are nicely funny, the two pieces are salt and pepper as to coherence. Choire, slightly hysterical perhaps, nevertheless sticks to his topic. Balk, in contrast, is almost grotesquely inconsequent. But that’s why we love him!

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

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Matins: A Times over the weekend exhorted Goldman Sachs & al to make a genuine apology — in the form of restitution.

Lauds: Michael Johnston raises a very interesting question that is too often overlooked by viewers: where was the photographer standing? (The Online Photographer)

Prime: onathan Ford and Peter Thal Larsen propose three concrete measures for trimming banks down to salvageable — fail-able — size. First, proportional capital buffers. Second, restore a virtual Glass-Steagall by insulating relatively safe activities from relatively risky ones. Third, dissolve global banks into “confederacies of national subsidiaries.” (Prospect)

Tierce: Mike Sachs imagines the dialogue from porn movies starring his parents. (The New Yorker)

Sext: Sam Kean thinks that William Safire and William F Buckley wrote too well. Was this a by-product of their conservatism? (3 Quarks Daily)

Nones: Clan strife (exacerbated by religious differences) appears to be at the back of the gruesome abduction and massacre of at least 20 lawyers and journalists in the Philippine province of Maguindanao, where the writ of Manila appears not to run very effectively. (NYT)

Vespers: Sonya Chung discovers the drawbacks of multitasking — walking the dog while listening to an audiobook. The piece is really about how dogs are a writer’s best friend because they can’t talk, and Revolutionary Road teaches us that talk destroys; but, hey. (The Millions)

Compline: Owen Flanagan reviews an intriguing book: Reading in the Brain, by Stanislas Dehaene. If our brains haven’t significantly evolved for 200,000 years (by the way: how does anyone know this?), then how have we managed to read for the past five thousand? Exaptation! (New Scientist)

Daily Office:
Wednesday

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

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Matins: Monica Howe writes about a problem that appears to be on the increase: drive-by porn and its variants. You’re sitting in some sort of traffic, minding your own business, when the guy next to you…. (Washington Post; via The Morning News)

Lauds: Yasmina Reza, in town to promote her directorial début, Chicas, with Emmanuelle Seignier — and to catch the first cast’s final performance of God of Carnage — talks to Speakeasy about all of that, and her friendship with Ms Seignier’s husband, Roman Polanski.

Prime: Felix Salmon continues the debt-bias discussion, evaluating two reasons not to tax interest payments, and, not surprisingly, dismissing them even when he agrees with supporting arguments. (That’s what makes this discussion so interesting.)

Tierce: The extraordinary Mandelbulb. We’ve been so hynotized by the latest in fractals that we’ve neglected to share.

Sext: What to read next? Well, you could let your dreams determine the title — if you were Philip K Dick and strong enough to read “the dullest book in the world.” (Letters of Note)

Nones: With a grim sort of relief, we note that intransigence is still the prevailing note in Honduran politics. (BBC News)

Vespers: Terry Teachout encounters a stack of his new book(s), Pops, at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side. He registers his reaction as closer to Mencken than to Hindemith. (About Last Night)

Compline: Two lawyers from the Genomics Law Report consider the “intriguing question” of how personal DNA data might be handled in the event (an event in Iceland) of a direct-to-consumer’s genomics company’s going bankrupt. (Genetic Future; via Short Sharp Science)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

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Matins: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals is eaten alive by John Williams, at The Second Pass, in a piece that begins with the surprised observation that Mr Foer does not mention Peter Singer in his book.

Lauds: Michael Williams writes about the amazing Zildjian family, and shares some terrific clips. (A Continuous Lean)

Prime: James Surowiecki addresses the debt bias in this week’s New Yorker, and in a background piece at the magazine’s blog.

Tierce: While Choire Sicha rails against the “Swiss Drug Pushers” who run the United States government (at The Awl), Jonah Lehrer (at The Frontal Cortex) reminds us how L-Dopa really works.

Sext: Unknown to Downing Street or the Palace, Margaret Thatcher dies. Meanwhile, Thatcher scholar Claire Berlinksi writes an article for Penthouse.

Nones: Joshua Kurlantzick discusses President Obama’s trip to Asia, regretting that Indonesia was left off the itinerary and noting the dispiriting realism of Asian diplomacy today. (London Review Blog)

Vespers: Grant Risk Hallberg’s long piece on myth and backlash in Bolaño studies serves as a toolkit to bring you completely up-to-date on a writer who, from beyond the grave, has excited a pungent array of macho responses. (The Millions)

Compline: A story that we never thought we’d see: “Money Trickles North as Mexicans Help Relatives.” (NYT)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

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Matins: Paul Krugman addresses our most dangerous problem: the growing power of a right-wing rump without any interest in governing and with every intention of preventing others from governing: “the GOP has been taken over by the people it used to exploit. (NYT)

Lauds: Duran Duran bassist John Taylor, who “became a teenager in 1972,” fears that the Internet has not been a positive force for popular culture. He seems troubled by the fact that it makes too much old stuff too easy to get, thus reducing the need for new stuff. (BBC News; via Arts Journal)

Prime: Felix Salmon disagrees with Wall Street Journal writers on the subject of Ken Lewis’s “mettle.”

Tierce: Meryl Gordon’s discussions with some of the Marshall Trial jurors makes for fascinating reading at Vanity Fair.

Sext: Choire Sicha remembers “vividly” where he was when The Wall Fell — although he didn’t know a thing about it at the time. (The Awl)

Nones: George Packer reminds us why the Wall fell when it did, in a piece about the uniqueness of 1989 in Europe. (The New Yorker)

Vespers: Tim Adams talks about Alan Bennett‘s new play, The Habit of Art — a little. Mostly he appreciates a writer who, against all the odds, has become a beloved fixture in Britain. (Guardian)

Compline: Jonah Lehrer registers a new study about the “privileged” sense of smell. (Frontal Cortex)

Daily Office:
Wednesday

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

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Beginning today, the full text of the Daily Office appears at Portico. To continue reading the entry for a given hour, simply click on it, or click here to see today’s entire Daily Office.

Matins: Manisha Verma’s essay on Jon Stewart’s effectiveness as a de-fogger suggests that Comedy Central may have discovered the cure for television. (3 Quarks Daily; via The Morning News)

Lauds: The sale of the Lehman Brothers art collection, although it brought in twice the projected total, demonstrates the wishful thinking behind much art investing. Quite aside from the fact that Lehman was not in the business of purchasing artworks in order to profit from their resale (as indeed it was supposed to be doing with its other investments), the proceeds of the sale are but a drop in the bucket of Lehman’s bankruptcy — $1.35 million as against $250 billion. (Bloomberg; via Arts Journal)

Prime: Steve Tobak doesn’t buy the theory, advanced by The Daily News, that Galleon-Scandal insiders Hector Ruiz and Bob Moffit were lured to their doom by a comely lass called Danielle Chiesi — but that’s only because he doesn’t think that she’s much of a “cheerleader.” (The Corner Office)

Tierce: Michael Williams looks back to the days when he delivered firewood on autumn weekends. (A Continuous Lean)

Sext: Meanwhile, Choire Sicha takes his lorgnette (or is a loupe?) to a new line from Michael Bastian that Michael Williams probably won’t be covering: Homeless Chic. $525 just for long underwear! (The Awl)

Nones: The man who helped to take “primitive people” off the map, Claude Lévi-Strauss, died on Friday. (NYT)

Vespers: A long appreciation of Cheever’s Journals from Geoff Dyer — a writer of very similar lyrical gifts. Mr Dyer persuasively ties Cheever’s craftsmanship as a published writer to his repressed homosexuality, and sees both as prisons. (Guardian; via Critical Mass)

Compline: Nick Paumgarten advises us to abandon our hopes for multitasking, which “doesn’t work. You just perform each task less efficiently.” (The New Yorker)

Daily Office:
Wednesday

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

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Matins: Confidence in the once-almighty dollar is eroding. This could be a very good thing, in many ways, if it weren’t for those pesky Treasury Bills.

Lauds: On the strength of Ken Tanaka’s write-up, we’ve just ordered a copy of On City Streets: Chicago, 1964-2004, by “unknown” photographer Gary Stochl.

Prime: The subprime movie crisis: surprise, surprise, easy money left Hollywood unprepared for a very dry season. (via Arts Journal)

Tierce: Jason Dean’s very snazzy ABCs of Branding.

Sext: Box wines: nothing to sniff at.  (via Felix Salmon)

Nones: The Honduran attempt at a bloodless coup is getting bloody — thanks to the return of the coupé.

Vespers: Patrick Kurp waits, along with Phyllis McGinley, for “The 5:32.”

Compline: Coming soon to the Internet: FTC disclosure rules.

(more…)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

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Matins: What can you do to save the Galápagos Islands’ ecosystem? Resolve to stay away, and to urge your friends to do likewise. Don’t count on Ecuador to manage the growing mess.

Lauds: Stuff White People Like takes on Banksy, Thomas Kinkade.

Prime: Scott Shane: “Do Friends Let Friends Open Restaurants?” The answer is obvious, of course, but the brief discussion is interesting.

Tierce: Jenni Diski plays Auntie Family, faux-outraged about those gay penguins

Sext: Doodle away the afternoon with Vodkaster’s “subway map” of the 250 Best Films. (via reddit)

Nones: Irish voters approve the (slightly revised) Lisbon Treaty.

Vespers: Eric Banks writes about an uncomfortable truth in ”Poe’s Fading Star.”

Compline: A tale that seems to come out of Dickens or Trollope or perhaps even Cruikshank or Rowlandson: while Simmons Bedding faces bankruptcy, the private equity investors and the former CEO walk away will amply-filled pockets.

(more…)

Daily Office:
Thursday

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

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Matins: Michael Specter takes a good look at the potentially scary field of synthetic biology — and does not panic.

Lauds: Booing at the Met: Luc Bondy’s Tosca. (Not to be confused with Puccini’s, no matter what they sang. Maybe Sardou’s, though.)

Prime: Engineering in the Age of Fractals, or “Why Bankers Are Like Bacteria.” (via Felix Salmon)

Tierce: Abe Sauer’s quite informative Essay Touching Upon the Economics of Britney Spears’s Circus Tour Show in Grand Forks, North Dakota; or, Don’t Blame Ticketmaster.

Sext: It’s a bit early for us, but our cousin Kurt Holm will be on the Early Show tomorrow morning, and CBS Studios at 59th and Fifth will be the place to hang out.  (Between 7:15 and 9, I’m told.) This week at notakeout: Mark Bittman guests!

Nones: Yesterday, we were reminded of Il Trovatore. Today, it’s Rodelinda. How did Manuel Zelaya get back into Honduras? The sort of question that never comes up in genuine opera seria. Maybe this is opera buffa.

Vespers: The book to read before it’s sold over here: The Queen Mother: The Official Biography, by William Shawcross. Why? Because she was “Past Caring.”

Compline: Mash-ups considered as the model for creative intelligence, at The Frontal Cortex.

(more…)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

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Matins: The Economics Department at Notre Dame plans to dissolve its humanist, “heterodox” wing, and focus exclusively on “sophisticated training in quantitative methods in addition to a liberal-arts emphasis.” (via Marginal Revolution)

Lauds: Michael Johnston ogles a book of “camera porn” from the George Eastman House. SFW!

Prime: James Surowiecki calls for detaching the ratings agencies from official securities regulation.

Tierce: Tom Scocca, Dad with a pen, goofs again: “It was a mistake to get on the Metro train with the kid riding on my shoulders.”

Sext: Of the lower 48 states, 5 birds are 26 states’ official avian: Cardinal (7), Mockingbird (6), Meadowlark (6), Bluebird (4), and Goldfinch (3).

Nones: Wake-up call from New Delhi to Indian state governments: “Leak reveals India Maoist threat.”

Vespers: Emily Gould’s report on a panel discussion about the future of fiction is the sort of document that we don’t want to lose sight of: this is how published authors regarded the Internet/marketing/branding in September 2009: still in the old-fashioned way. (via The Rumpus)

Compline: “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres”: Project Gaydar at MIT. (via The Morning News)

(more…)

Daily Office:
Friday

Friday, September 18th, 2009

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Matins: An attempt to “urbanize” Tyson’s Corner, Virginia appears to have spooked the planners: they don’t want anything too urban!

Lauds: With Julie & Julia about to open in France, a number of critics are echoing Mme Brassart.

Prime: A word about arbitrage from Felix Salmon. Actually, two words:

  • Picking up nickels in front of a steamroller
  • Don’t try this at home.

Tierce: As if it had been waiting for rifts within the Anglican Communion to threatens its future, Canterbury Cathedral has begun to fall down in earnest. (via The Morning News)

Sext: Fast Food: The DeStyling.

Nones: Has or has not fighting broken out between China and India? Officially, not. But the media on both sides pipe a different tune. Amit Baruah reports from the BBC.

Vespers: A nice, long, faux-depressing, genuinely funny look at the publishing biz, by former Random House editor Daniel Menaker.

Compline: Paul Graham on The List of N Things: sometimes a simple list fits the case exactly, but, too often, it’s “a degenerate case of essay.” (via  Mnémoglyphes)

Bon weekend à tous!

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Daily Office:
Thursday

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

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Matins: Is there such a thing as good luck? Ayn Rand’s fans are certain that there is not: hard work is everything. Jonathan Chait assesses the Rand legacy in light of this conviction, at The New Republic. (via The Morning News)

Lauds: Our latest discovery: MetEveryday. (Thanks, Ms NOLA!)

Prime: David Leonhardt profiles Robert Shiller — in the Yale Alumni Magazine, naturally. (via Marginal Revolution)

Tierce: A violin repair shop in Morningside Hides has been told to cease and desist from violating antiquated zoning restrictions. No, noise is not the issue.

Sext: Links to an assortment of Lost Symbol reviews, at Speakeasy.

Nones: True-life ghost fleet — container ships and other freighters parked off of Singapore. (via  The Infrastructurist)

Vespers: John Curran, author of Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks, lists then top ten titles in her ouevre. How many have you read? (Film adaptations don’t count!) (via Campaign for the American Reader)

Compline: Jason Kottke asks (in a footnote, no less):

You’ve got to wonder when Apple is going to change the name of the iPhone. The phone part of the device increasingly seems like an afterthought, not the main attraction. The main benefit of the device is that it does everything. How do you choose a name for the device that has everything? Hell if I know.

(more…)

Daily Office:
Friday

Friday, September 11th, 2009

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Matins: James Surowiecki assesses President Obama’s Health Care speech, finding it a success.

Lauds: A Portrait of a Man, bequeathed to the Museum as a Velásquez, demoted to “studio of Velésquez” by skeptical curators, is revealed to be a Velásquez again — after cleaning and conservation.

Prime: Megan McArdle explains why investment bankers make so much money. Think: drop in the bucket. Also: movie trailer. (via Felix Salmon)

Tierce: Who needs the movie? While planning your weekend getaway, you can have your fill of prison scenes at Scouting New York.

Sext: It has been a while since we were treated to a gallery of weird old LP jackets. This one, it seems, comes from Russia. (Don’t be put off by the first, rather distubring one.)

Nones: Hugo Chávez tears another page out of the Castro playbook, and sucks up to Mother Russia. And we thought that we’d won the Cold War once and for all!

Vespers: Richard Nash writes about Ted Striphas’s The Late Age of Print. The book, which assesses the history of publishing and bookselling in clearly commercial terms, sounds compelling, but the review is an absolute must. (Grocery stores?)

Compline: How two 75 year-old former bombshells couldn’t be more different, after all these years. Which would be your choice, stray cats or tomcats? (via Arts Journal)

Bon Weekend à tous!

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Daily Office:
Thursday

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

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Matins: Citizens United v Federal Election Commission: that’s the case to watch. A special hearing before the Supreme Court took place yesterday. Do corporations have the right to free speech?

Lauds: The other day, we discovered a Web site that we expect to visit regularly: ARTCAT. Not only will we stay up-to-date on gallery openings, but we’ll get to read some priceless press releases.

Prime: The Timothy Mayopoulos story will probably not be told by Mr Mayopoulos himself — not, at least, without permission from his former client, Bank of America — which summarily dismissed him just when you’d have thought that it needed him most. Why?

Tierce: A wake-up call that few Americans will heed. “United Nations Conference calls for new global currency.” (via Joe.My.God)

Sext: Alex Balk diagrams yesterday’s Maureen Dowd.

Nones: Good to know: “Brazil in ‘fugitive haven’ fight.”

Vespers: Ellen Moody considers Paul Scott and his fiction — with pix from the mini-serial adaptation of The Jewel in the Crown.

Compline: How do we forget? It seems that we don’t. Rather, we mislay. Jonah Lehrer on “persistent memories.” (more…)

Daily Office:
Wednesday

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

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Matins: The nation of which Amsterdam is the capital is rightly considered to be one of the most densely-populated sovereignties in the world. But it’s as empty as Arizona when compared with the former New Amsterdam.

Lauds: On the eve of shooting Wall Street 2, Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas chuckle ruefully over the unintended aura projected by Wall Street, twenty-three years ago.

Prime: Bob Cringely reconsiders the virtual university, and obliges us to do the same. What seems at first to be an unlikely monstrosity may indeed provide the most effective education for most students.

Tierce: Assault By Actuary: the Bruce Schobel Story. Or not, since, perhaps for legal reasons, Mary Williams Walsh never does describe the crime of which the (then teenaged?) in-and-out president-elect of the American Academy of Actuaries was convicted.

Sext: Tom Tomorrow catches up with Goofus and Gallant.

Nones: The latest story on the Fall of Lehman Brothers, from the Guardian‘s Larry Elliott and Jill Treanor, highlights the soverignty problem in global regulation.

Vespers: Ben Dooley offers a short list of books to read about Japan, in case you’re boning up for a trip. Read Murakami if you must, but for a real Japanese novel…

Compline: In a Talk piece from this week’s New Yorker, ”Zoo Story,” Lauren Collins registers the general public’s dislike of the seating arrangements in Times Square, as well as its approval of the Thigh Line and the Eyeful Tower.

(more…)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

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Matins: Edward Glaeser reviews Anthony Flint’s book about the Jacobs-Moses Wars in Midcentury New York, at TNR. (via Marginal Revolution

Lauds: The painting of Kim Cogan; detail below the fold. (via The Best Part)

Prime: Felix Salmon provides some helpful background on the most upsetting story of the past weekend. Here’s hoping that he’s right, and that “life settlements” won’t go anywhere this time around, either.

Tierce: Roman Hans has a problem with his cable bill.

Sext: Carrie Fisher admits that she USED TO BE hot.

Nones: At the LRB, Thomas Jones digs out an 1880 book about the futility of waging Western-style war in Afghanistan. Lots has changed since then, but Afghanistan hasn’t, not much.

Vespers: Gadzooks! A New England prep school with no library! No books! Instead, a “learning center,” and a $12,000 cappuccino machine. (via Survival of the Book)

Compline: Failure and free markets: is it any wonder that the inhabitants of a small island kingdom would be far more risk averse than the settlers of a resource-rich continent? Peter Goodman filters last week’s election through contrasts between Japan and the United States.

(more…)