Archive for the ‘Big Ideas’ Category

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

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¶ Matins: The editors of The Awl analyze today’s NYC ballot, and render a nice distinction between “douchebaggery” and “dickslappery.” By Frank Rich’s account, things were much more exciting upstate — until just before his column went to press. (NYT)

¶ Lauds: Two sensationally (if unintentionally) amusing write-ups for coming art shows downtown: Avant-Guide to NYC: Discovering Absence and Crotalus Atrox (Or Fat Over Lean).  (ArtCat)

¶ Prime: The economics of Swedish meat balls — which we share for the woo-hoo fun of being in completely over our heads! (Marginal Revolution)

¶ Tierce: Eric Patton sighs over the beauty of Italian, while collecting a nice armload of local street signs for you to puzzle out. (SORE AFRAID)

¶ Sext: In case David Drzal’s Book Review rave didn’t convince you that William Grimes’s Appetite City is an absolute must-read, we’re sure that Jonathan Taylor’s more expansive review at Emdashes will do the job.

¶ Nones: Did they settle that thing in Honduras? Maybe yes, maybe no. But one thing is certain: the Micheletti coup did a number on Honduran business. (NYT)

(At first, we believed that ousted president Manuel Zelaya was an idiot. Over time, we came to appreciate the fact that Roberto Micheletti used to be his mentor.)

¶ Vespers: Daniel Menaker considers Tim Page’s Parallel Play, an expansion of the New Yorker piece in which Mr Page shared his relief at finally having been diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome. (Barnes & Noble Review; via  The Second Pass)

¶ Compline: Being a terrible driver may mean that you’re not going to develop Parkinson’s! (Wired Science; via The Morning News)

Daily Office:
Thursday

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

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Matins: Christopher Shea surveys the world of Letterman Apology Evaluations.

Lauds: Soon to be arriving on your iPhone: an original picture by David Hockney.

Prime: Versace will close its three outlets in Japan.

Tierce: Linguist John McWhorter frolics and detours at  Good: The “For Themselves” Love Drug. (Did we say “linguist”?)

Sext: “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, as long as both are covered with a sharp, original, Awly take.” The Awl turns five months, sixteen days old. Two days ago.

Nones: And you thought Honduras was this boring provincial story. Ha! Bet you didn’t even know the word Chavista! (We didn’t.) As in “Chavista authoritarianism” and Cold War think tanks — in Washington.

Vespers: Levi Stahl reviews the Man Booker winner, Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, at The Second Pass.

Compline: Amazing study about city people with guns — and how much more likely they are to be shot dead.

(more…)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

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¶ Matins: Truckers engage with communications devices — cell phones, on-baord computers — up to “90%” of their driving time. Efforts to curb that distraction are likely to meet with frustration.  

Lauds: Textile designer Ilisha Helfman, in Portland, Oregon, fashions outfits for her antique paper dolls from the covers of the Sunday Times Magazine.

Prime: Felix Salmon comments on the economics of the Urban Diet.

Tierce: The cheeky devils at Improv Everywhere had some fun on the subway: the Class of ’09, Lexington Avenue Laughing Academy. (via kottke.org)

Sext: This time, the descent into the Dark Ages will be recorded — at craigslist.

Nones: President Obama will campaign on behalf of his wife’s hometown, seeking the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.

Vespers: Richard Crary gets round to Civilization and Its Discontents, enjoying the read for the most part but pricking his ears at Freud’s anthropology.

Compline: Don’t expect that famous writer sitting across the table to be a gifted conversationalist, critic Arthur Krystal warns.

(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:
Wednesday

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

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Matins: In an important editorial, the Times argues that corporations ought not to have the same set of constitutional rights as human beings.

Lauds: At The Best Part, four terrific photographs that William Eggleston did not take — but clearly inspired John Johnston to take.

Prime: The Netflix Prize — a million dollars to whomever improves the performance of its Cinematch engine by ten percent — is not really about the money.

Tierce: Devin Friedman decides to have more black friends, runs ad in Craiglist… the beginning of quite the project. “Will you be my black friend?“, at GQ.

Sext: Three things that V X Sterne would rather chat about than “So, What Do You Do?

Nones: In what seems like a turn from Il Trovatore, ousted Honduras president Manuel Zelaya steals back into Tegucigalpa, where he takes refuge at the Brazilian Embassy.

Vespers: Alan Gopnik reviews Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol — but not in the back of the book. As the lead Talk piece instead. Ho-ho-ho.

Compline: Nige takes the week off, bumps around Norfolk with an old friend, and visits a famous French cathedral. We are so living on the wrong continent.

(more…)

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:
Wednesday

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

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Matins: Given the lunatic tone of national discourse these days, it’s refreshing to hear the “P” word spoken with such vigor and clarity:

Obama is sometimes faulted for conducting government by speech. But this speech was part of a patient strategy that, despite August’s rough weather, is looking increasingly sound.

Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker.

Lauds: Museum Director Thomas Campbell outlines his plans in an interview with The Art Newspaper’s Joshua Edward Kaufman.

Prime: President Obama’s Federal Hall speech yesterday elicits interesting responses from Felix Salmon and James Surowiecki.

Tierce: As deeply as our eidtor sympathises with Malcolm Gladwell, Sean Macauley’s totally high-school prank makes us laugh, even if it is a bit nasty. (What high school prank isn’t at least a bit nasty?)

Sext: All of a sudden, everyone’s a racist. Well, simmer down. As Abe Sawyer suggests at The Awl, it’s probably anarchism. Racism is just one of the ”tools currently available with which to ‘win’.”

Nones: Mark Garlasco’s hobby — collecting Nazi military memorabilia — will probably cost him his job, now that it has “armed right-wing fanatics” critical of Human Rights Watch, the humanitarian organization which Mr Garlasco served as a military analyst.

Vespers: On the anniversary of David Foster Wallace’s death, Jean Ruaud writes about the rewards of struggling with Infinite Jest all the way through to the end. [fr]

Compline: An interesting, if not quite lucid, essay on the problem of giving unconditional love to a badly-behaving child, by Alfie Kohn. (more…)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

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Matins: Caleb Crain examines the culture of economic adversity — in the Depression.

Lauds: Holland Cotter hopes that we have seen the last of the blockbuster exhibition.

Prime: Over the weekend, Times columnist Joe Nocera raised the “what if” question about Lehman, speculating that “it had to die to save Wall Street.” James Surowiecki isn’t so sure — and neither are we.

Tierce: More about the clothing style known as “trad”: this time from Joe Pompeo, at the Observer. (via Ivy Style)

Sext: We had never seen a picture of today’s Hilo Hero, Margaret Sanger, before.

Nones: Is Internet opinion in China driving a trade confrontation with the United Statess?

Vespers: At The Second Pass, John Williams passes on The Lost Symbol — in advance.

Compline: At  Good, 10 great urban parks, seen from above at roughly the same scale.

(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…)

Daily Office:
Friday

Friday, September 4th, 2009

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Matins: Amazing: Significant legal reform from Albany. The new Power of Attorney, with 50% less bluffing! (via Estate of Denial)

Lauds: “Theatre Royal Bath to be Revamped.” Accent on Theatre, kiddoes.

Prime: Memo to Twentysomethings: Just as the ultimate human destination is a long, narrow box, the ultimate gamer’s destination seems to be a body that’s overweight, depressed, and thirty-five.

Tierce: Stalking your ex-girlfriend? There’s an app for that. (You may require hilariotomy after.)

Sext: Choire Sicha deconstructs — no, “annotates” — Saki Knafo’s Times Magazine piece about the epic struggle behind the making of Where the Wild Things Are. If Spike Jonze thought that he was beleaguered before…!

Nones: On facing pages of yesterday’s Times, stories about divisions in Honduras (which we knew about) and Jerusalem (which we’d forgotten about). Some people just don’t want to get along!

Vespers: Jane Kramer on Montaigne: if it’s an easy read, you’re no Montaigne fan. (If you’re no New Yorker subscriber, the link may not work. So continue below.)

Compline: The suburban dreams of Ross Racine are just what we want to think about this weekend. (via The Infrastructurist)

Bon weekend à tous!

(more…)

Daily Office:
Thursday

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

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Matins: Jonah Lehrer, cross-posting for the vacationing Andrew Sullivan, anticipates the legalization of marijuana.

Lauds: It’s not new, but we just found out about it: Thorsten Fleisch’s Gestalt.

Prime: Although slightly intemperate in tone, David Barash’s essay at Chron Higher Ed persuasively equates the “growth economy” with the “Ponzi economy”: “We Are All Madoffs.”

Tierce: We forget who it was who commented on the following report with the quip, good thing Alan Bloom is dead: “Twitter 101: DePaul University’s Social Media Prof Gives His Syllabus.” Oh! Of course! It was Christopher Shea.

Sext: V X Sterne urges respect for the typical Ian Fleming villain. ”With his historic level of megalomania, his massively outsized sense of entitlement, his complete lack of perspective, his issues with impulse control, that infantile fixation on revenge, it’s a wonder he gets anything done.”

Nones: Greece reboots: Prime Minister Karamanlis calls for a “snap election.”

Vespers: At Survival of the Book, Brian picks up Christopher’s thread (Oops! We mixed them up) and considers the lost art of writing — writing real books, that is.

Compline: Tom Scocca muses on the mad appeal of Useless Facts. (via kottke.org)

(more…)

Daily Office:
Wednesday

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

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Matins: Lawrence Krauss is not joking when he suggests, on the Times Op-Ed page, that the best way to get men to Mars is to abandon the idea of bringing astronauts back home.

Lauds: Luc Sante reminisces about Jean-Michel Basquiat. “I was happy for him, but then it became obvious he was flaming out at an alarming pace.”

Prime: William Cohan profiles Chris Flowers, a financial Icarus — of sorts (he’s still worth $1.5 billion). (via Felix Salmon)

Tierce: MetaFilter Discovery Nº 1 (we made two of them, the other day): amassblog, designer James Phillips Williams’s catalogue blogué of the things that he collects.

Sext: MetaFilter Discovery Nº 2: Stuff Christian Culture Likes. Mordant and wry but not patronising.

Nones: Visiting Dansk on the 70th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denounces the Nazi-Soviet pact as “immoral,” and deplores the Russian atrocity at Katyn in 1940.

Vespers: Michelle Huneven explains the not-so-pedestrian charm of listening to books while taking a daily constitutional.

Compline: We only just finished reading “Critical Shopper,” Justin Wolfe’s magnificent essay on the pleasures of reading about exotic foodstuffs and expensive scents, neither of which he expects to sample in this lifetime. Take your time, but be sure to read it yourself!

(more…)

Daily Office:
Friday

Friday, August 28th, 2009

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Matins: Impressed by Apple’s emailed receipts — no paper! — Chadwick Matlin looks into the costs of “retrofitting” other retailers, and finds that they’re not inconsiderable. “So I begrudgingly and all-too-appropriately wave my white flag. You win, receipts.” (via Good)

Lauds: Micahel Kimmelman writes about Tatort (Crime Scene), the German detective show that has been running since 1970 — with different versions for different cities!

Prime: It’s when you succeed that running a business becomes truly tough. Jeffrey Pfeffer has one little word: Focus!

Tierce: Tweeting, the old-fashioned way: Robert Keith posts commercially-printed “ads” in the window of his Brooklyn bed-and-breakfast: “Credit Default Swaps Should Be Prosecuted — Not Paid.”

Sext: Well, what do you know! New York Governor David Paterson has hired The Awl’s Alex Balk to do a bit of “clarifying” speechwriting!

Nones: Yesterday: Muammar el-Qaddafi at home. Tomorrow: New Jersey.

Vespers: Beyond Orhan Pamuk (although not entirely): Selçuk Altun’s top-ten Turkish books. All are available in English translation (at least at Amazuk).

Compline: Whether concerned about predatory old partiers or determined to wring more moolah from its base, MoMA defines “Junior” as “<40.”

Bon weekend à tous!

(more…)

Daily Office:
Wednesday

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

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Matins: Sorry! We missed this amazing news on Friday: “Mexico Legalizes Drug Possession.”

Lauds: Christopher Hampton will adapt, Sam Mendes will direct, and Oprah Winfrey will produce a film version of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland.

Prime: Tyler Cowen asks if the bailouts were a good idea, and decides that they were.

Tierce: Thirteen year-old Laura Dekker wants to sail around the world, alone. Her parents don’t object, but the Nederlander government does. A tough call?

Sext: President Obama has lost all “creditability,” according to an anti-health-care-plan auto-faxer that somehow came to the attention of Choire Sicha. Sure, the wingnuts are scary. But, boy, can’t they write!

Nones: Why special Sharia courts in secular nations pose a threat to sovereignty: “Malaysia Postpones Whipping of Woman Who Drank Beer.”

Vespers: John Self behaves himself, and reads Bohumil Hrabal’s Closely Watched Trains. (He had owned a copy for a while.)

Compline: The awful truth about asexuality: it’s not awful! (via  Joe.My.God)

(more…)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

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Matins: Jonah Lehrer proposes a molecular theory of curiosity: don’t worry, it’s easily grasped.

Lauds: David Denby’s unfavorable review of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds makes sense to us — which confirms our suspicion that it is an old-man view of things.

Prime: Felix Salmon reads that crazy story about the guy with the $25,000 certified check in his briefcase, and contemplates a depressing conclusion.

Tierce: Why rock stars ought to die young: “eccentric-looking old man” spooks renters, turns out to be Bob Dylan. (via The Morning News)

Sext: A “Good Food Manifesto for America”, from former basketball pro Will Allen. (via How to Cook Like Your Grandmother)

Nones: Turkey struck an interesting agreement with Iraq last week: more water (for Iraq) in exchange for tougher crackdowns on PKK rebels active near the Turkish border. (via Good)

Vespers: Not so hypothetical: what if you could teach only one novel in a literature class that would probably constitute your students’ only contact with great fiction? A reader asks the editors of The Millions.

Compline: Two former policemen argue for legalizing narcotics. (via reddit)

(more…)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

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Matins: What’s so productive about “Gross Domestic Product,” asks historian Eric Zencey? A re-think of GDP for a greener world.

Lauds: A new business plan for classical musicians: don’t seek shelter in a large and venerable organization. Andrew Druckenbrod explains musical entrepreneurship.

Prime: The economics of farmers’ markets could use a design boost. Alissa Walker reports at GOOD.

Tierce: Kate McLaughlin, 19, heads off to Northwestern — for law school. somewhat more remarkably, she graduated from the University of California at San Diego two years ago. What do you think about this kind of precocity?

Sext: Sebastian Münster’s map of Europe, upside-down, at Strange Maps.

Nones: In Sunday’s Times, a long overdue explanation of the Honduran political divide.

Vespers: Jenni Diski reflects on the art of the late Stanley Middleton, a Booker Prize winner whom we hadn’t heard of.

Compline: Andrew Sullivan, in his tenth year of Daily-Beast-ing, resumes the practice of taking August off.

(more…)

Daily Office:
Friday

Friday, August 7th, 2009

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Matins: Food for thought this weekend: Alain de Botton proposes ”A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success,” in a presentation at TED. The main point: make sure that your idea of success is your own idea.

Lauds: Every time Jeremy Denk adds a new bit of music appreciation to his blog, the technical support gets better. Now, we think, it has caught up, in a piece about one of Brahms’s three sonatas for violin and piano (all beauties).

Prime: Felix Salmon: “When Stretching the Accordion Makes Sense.” Makes sense! It sounds like the best idea ever. But it does pit one idea of growth against another.

Tierce: Meet Judy Natkins — you can see her in court.

Sext: For those of you who haven’t seen Elizabeth Moss off the Mad Men screen, there’s Amy Heckerling’s Intervention parody.

Nones: We thought it might be Iran aiming to shut down Twitter, but it was more likely Russia and Georgia, trying to shut down one another — propaganda-wise, at least.

Vespers: Some Friday fun from Tao Lin, at The Stranger. ”The Levels of Greatness a Fiction Writer Can Achieve in America (From Lowest to Highest).”

Compline: The weekend must-read: Jonah Lehrer’s “The Truth About Grit.” At last, a truly cogent demolition job on IQ testing (and testing in general).

Bon weekend à tous!

(more…)

Daily Office:
Friday

Friday, July 31st, 2009

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Matins: The Urban Mole won second prize; I’d have made it the first-prizewinner. (via Good)

Lauds: A forgotten instrument from a famous score has been re-invented (one hopes!): the steel glockenspiel that Mozart had in mind for The Magic Flute.

Prime: One of the biggest problems in the way we do business — literally — is the slapdash way in which we do or don’t clean up after ourselves: “When Auto Plants Close, Only White Elephants Remain.”

Tierce: Unexpected but inevitable: what happens when lightweight Smart Cars are parked near canals. (via Infrastructurist)

Sext: How To Cook Like Your Grandmother. (via  MetaFilter)

Nones: After more than six years of expense, it has come to this:

“If there ever was a window where the seeds of a professional military culture could have been implanted, it is now long past. U.S. combat forces will not be here long enough or with sufficient influence to change it,” wrote [Col Timothy R Reese]. “The military culture of the Baathist-Soviet model under Saddam Hussein remains entrenched and will not change. The senior leadership of the I.S.F. is incapable of change in the current environment.”

Vespers: Will Blythe writes up the new new Thomas Pynchon novel — a noir detective story — at The Second Pass.

Compline: At the Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer discusses some recent findings about television as a balm for loneliness.

Bon weekend à tous!

(more…)

Daily Office:
Wednesday

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

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Matins: Michelle Haimoff proposes a pay scale for HuffPost contributors. 

Lauds: Nige makes me wish that I were in London, to see the Corot to Monet show.

Prime: Carol Smith, an SVP at Elle, claims that women make better managers. Even better, she hates single-sex workplaces.

Tierce: A Web log devoted to bookmarks found in old books (!) reminds us of telegrams at weddings. How old, we wonder, is the youngest person to remember this feature of wedding receptions? (via MetaFilter)

Sext: Steven Heller explains the test pattern.

Nones: An update from the country that can’t: Kurdistan.

Vespers: “It’s enjoyable if you like reading Nexis printouts” — Nicholson Baker on the Kindle DX.

Compline: Drake Bennett reports on some recent studies of attention deficits in older drivers — and how older drivers compensate. (via The Morning News)

(more…)

Daily Office:
Tuesday

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

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Matins: The gay divide on marriage in general and on opposition to Prop 8 in particular sharpens along the line between affluent elders and activist youngsters.

Lauds: Paul Johnson extols the work of Charles Cecil. an American whose studio in Florence trains students in the traditional craftsmanship of portraiture.

Prime: Felix Salmon continues to ponder the Summers swap. It’s intricate going, but we want Larry Summers out of the White House. Yesterday.

Tierce: At least he acknowledges that she had fun: Michael Knox Beran takes a contrarian look at Brooke Astor and her works. (via Estate of Denial)

For half a century she acted the part of Astor sultana with skill, cunning and almost indecent joie de vivre.

Sext: This ad at You Suck at Craigslist will send older folks into gales of laughter. But we remember reading that there are many young people today who have never purchased a postage stamp.  

Nones: “Boko Haram!” is the war-cry of Muhammed Ysuf’s Nigerian followers. It means, “education is prohibited.” 150 dead in two days of violence, according to a BBC report.

Vespers: John Self re-reads Franny and Zooey, and disagrees with Janet Malcolm’s claim that it is “no less rewarding than rereading The Great Gatsby.”

Compline: Although it’s a rather long read, we urge you to take the time to digest Mark Oppenheimer’s compassionate profile of two Holocaust-deniers who have fallen out — so much so that one of them no longer denies the Holocaust. (via MetaFilter) (more…)