Archive for the ‘The Hours’ Category

Daily Office:
Monday, 25 October 2010

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Matins

¶ We may a practice of reading the Times’s conservative columnists, David Brooks and Ross Douthat, very, very carefully, because while they often have good things to say they are just as often merely plausible, as Mr Douthat is today, comparing TARP and the voters’ reaction against it to Truman’s deployment of the atomic bomb against Japan and the immediate taboo on using such devices again.

 If the Republicans gain control of Congress in the coming election, the blessed event (not) will be far more attributable to the White House’s poor-to-nonexistent leadership skills on the economic front (not to mention the retention of Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke) than to some heallthy principle of political isostasy.

Lauds

¶ We think that Ben Brantley is a bit of a doltish chump for holding Jan Maxwell’s age against her performance — obviously splendid by his own account — in the Second Stage revival of Arthur Kopit’s Wings. (NYT)

Prime

¶ James Kwak’s brisk comparison of nutritionism and financialization shows how dangerous it can be to get meta about vital mattesr. (The Baseline Scenario)

Tierce

¶ In homage to Maurice Allais, who died earlier this month, Jonah Lehrer writes about the long-term impact of his 1953 paper on the irrationality of loss, what came to be known as the Allais Paradox, when Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky got hold of it. (Wired Science)

Sext

¶ At The Awl, Eryn Loeb talkes about “My Former Best Friend’s Wedding,” which she didn’t attend, although she gave herself a headache looking at all the photos online. Leaving home isn’t what it used to be; arguably, Facebook has made it impossible. You grow up and apart but not away.

Nones

¶ From Edmund Burke’s The Sublime and the Beautiful to the Pledge to America: Cory Robin traces the vein of hot-air-appreciation that animates conservatives whenever war is under discussion — so long as the actual warfare is far enough away to seem “sublime.” (Chron Higher Ed; via 3 Quarks Daily)

Vespers

¶ From a Rumpus Poetry Club discussion of Timothy Donnelly’s acclaimed collection, The Cloud Corporation. We applaud the bit about re-reading, and are faintly surprised by the notion that a poet would not have memorized his own verse.

Compline

¶ James Somers muses on the contrast between now and then — now a confident and capable alumnus of the University of Michigan who is nonetheless too settled to indulge the impulse to chat up everyone he encountered at a recent football game on campus; then, a freshman during the first two weeks of college, who like all of his classmates did exactly that. The image of annealing is particularly just. (jsomers.net)

Have A Look

Leah Fusco’s Owling. (The Best Part)

Fuck Yeah Meanswear. (via Ivy Style)

Daily Office:
Friday, 22 October 2010

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Matins

¶ A story that’s really too good to be true: rather than pay “confiscatory taxes,” Boeing plowed its earnings into R&D, becoming the aircraft leader that has been for fifty years. Moral of the story? (Justin Fox at Felix Salmon)

Lauds

¶ In what amount to super-duper liner notes, Ian Bostridge writes about the three Eighteenth-Century tenors from whose repertoires he has fashioned a recital program, recorded for EMI. (Guardian; via Arts Journal )

Prime

¶ In three paragraphs, George Soros nails it. We are more flabbergasted by President Obama’s economic-adviser choices every day. (NYRB)

Tierce

¶ What sort of myths would human beings develop if confronted with the binary star NN Serpentis, where a dim red dwarf would make its presence known to someone standing on one of its two planets every few hours, when it eclipsed the adjacent and brilliant white dwarf? Phil Plait asks just that at Bad Astronomy — after setting forth all the how-weird-is-thatness lying 1500 light years away.

Sext

¶ Abe Sauer waxes feisty on the subject of Juan Williams’s NPR termination. Not only ought the network dump anyone who appears regularly on Fox News, but it ought to dump its public funding as well. (The Awl)

Nones

¶ The advent of gold bullion ATMs has us wondering when someone will be smart enough to install GOLD BUBBLE gum vending machines. (Guardian; via The Morning News)

Vespers

¶ We thought that we’d heard everything, on the subject of Tao Lin, author of Richard Yates, but a comparison to Jack Kerouac was sort of beyond our wildest dreams. Or maybe way this side of them. “Whatevs.” (LRB Blog)

Compline

¶ In our ongoing uplift campaign, hoping to demonstrate that the world is not going to hell in a handbasket if only because it is already there, we report on the sad case of our Upper East Side neighbors, Karim and Tina Samii and Daphne Guinness, who have felt obliged to go to law over (or under) an overflowing bathtub at the former Stanhope, where, presumably, they both (so to speak) bought “floor throughs.”

Have A Look

¶ The melting pot that is New York: IRT, BMT, IND. (NYT)

Daily Office:
Thursday, 21 October 2010

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Matins

¶ A report, backed by the NAACP, shows that a number of low-level Tea Party organizations are allied with racist groups. This doen’st come as much of a surprise, but as the semi-official register of the conservative groups’ associations (disputed, of course, by the Tea Partiers themselves as a “liberal smear”), it puts the reading public on notice. (Washington Post; via The Morning News)

Lauds

¶ Larry Fahey claims to “hate” film critic Roger Ebert, but we’re in accord with the substance of his argument, at least to the extent that serious moviegoers might contemplate buttressing their own opinions with Mr Ebert’s judgments. Movies are not commodities that can be comparison-shopped, and many “bad” movies are worth at least one viewing. (The Rumpus)

Prime

¶ At Naked Capitalism, a rousingly populist guest post from Jim Quinn. What we wouldn’t give to be able to convince him and his listeners that the most powerful enemy of economic equity in this country is the 1886  Supreme Court decision that conferred Fourteenth-Amendment protections (meant for former slaves) upon the American corproation.

Tierce

¶ The big story in today’s Times is about football helmets, and how they’ve been designed to prevent fractures, not concussions. This is an important look at the failure of self-regulatory organizations, NOCSAE in this case, which are funded by the businesses that they’re supposed to be supervising.

Sext

¶ David Shapiro shows up for a literary lions’ gala at the Chip seriously underdressed. No problem! A friend at his table “tells me not to worry about it because people will think i am super rich/powerful if i look like i don’t care about getting dressed for this.” We remember trying that sort of thing on when we were young, but we could never bring ourselves to believe it. (The Awl)

Nones

¶ Mark Lilla witness a manif in Lyon, which spurs reflections on the (American) Tea Party. (NYRBlog)

Vespers

¶ We’re knocked out with admiration for Lydia Kiesling, who is working her way through Kar, by Orhan Pamuk. That would be the novel that you may have read as Snow; Ms Kiesling is reading the novel in its original Turkish, one agglutianted clause at a time. Oh, to be young — or old beyond ambition! (The Millions)

Compline

¶ At the Guardian, Bettany Hughes writes a nice introduction to the topic of her new book: Socrates, and discusses the political insecurity behind his death sentence. (via 3 Quarks Daily)

Have A Look

Art Is Murder. (The Bygone Bureau)

Maira Kalman’s studio. (Design Sponge)

Daily Office:
Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Matins

¶ Although the word “honor” is not music in our ears, we read Kwame Anthony Appiah’s reflections on national and familial honor with the greatest interest — not least because of Mr Appiah’s almost fantastic parentage. We’re not persuaded, however, to abandon our preference for decency over honor. (Telegraph; via 3 Quarks Daily)

Lauds

¶ If you’re like us, you’ve already got Alex Ross’s Listen to This on your list, if you don’t already have the book itself. Readers less familiar with the inside of Carnegie Hall (where, too, classical music isn’t the only kind on offer, not by a long shot) may be inspired by Jessica Freeman-Slade’s fresh-faced review, at The Millions.

Prime

¶ In a chummy little piece at The Reformed Broker, “Blogging on the Shoulders of Giants,” Joshua Brown pulls a coy tent over fellow admirers of the hedge fund superstars — all the while warming up some crocodile tears about the hit that a few of them are taking on Bank of America, and how much it hurts no matter what they say.

Tierce

¶ The idea that opposition makes people intransigent, advanced by Leon Festinger half a century ago, has only now been tested, and not only demonstrated but proved in a way that supports our intuitive (as yet untested) view that calm and security are essential for civilized life. In conversational terms, this means that doubt and uncertainty must be handled with great tact. Ed Yong reports, at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Sext

¶ Something wrong with the world of late: Choire Sicha hasn’t been writing very much. (Or we have been missing it.) We’re reminded of this regrettable deficit by his warm appreciation of that excellent motion picture, Jackass 3D, which we’re going to run out and see on his recommenda — oh. (The Awl)

Nones

¶ What’s surprising about Christopher Hitchens’s essay on Hezbollah in Lebanon is his suprirse that paternalism orders society effectively. He makes it sound like a dark art, instead of the hardy cultural survival that it is. (Slate)

Vespers

¶ Raynard Seifert reviews Padgett Powell’s The Interrogative Moodor does he? (HTMLGiant)

Compline

¶ We were also  interested to read ” No More Arcs,” Rochelle Gurstein’s lament for the days when the nations of the West, especially the democracies, tried to live up to the glories of Antiquity. It’s not a sentiment that we share.

Have A Look

Alida Valli. (Who knew the bed was green?) (Stirred, Straight Up, With a Twist)

Living in: Rear Window. (Design Sponge)

Economy Candy. (The Awl)

Daily Office:
Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Matins

¶ The man who gave us those beautiful fractals, Benoît Mandelbrot, died late last week, more or less estranged from the financial world that his researches transformed. In his opinion, quantitative analysts misused his work to convey a false sense of security about dangerous risks. Justin Fox, sitting in for Felix Salmon, suggests why Wall Street didn’t heed Mandelbrot’s warnings. (Also: Brain Pickings)

Lauds

¶ We agree with David Cho about the finale of Man Men‘s fourth season. (We also think that it befitted a drama that is more about the world of work than any show ever.) Of course, we would have been happy with anything that put an end to the tyranny showtimes. (The Awl)

Prime

¶ At Naked Capitalism, Yves Smith rounds up objections to the proposed QE2, or second “quantitative easing.” This is a somewhat arcane issue, but it’s also quite important, and we hope that the entry, with its snips from commenters as eminent as Joseph Stiglitz, will shed light.

Tierce

¶ Why Harrison Ford is awarding $10,000 prizes annually to writers who can make complex biodiversity issues intelligeible to the general public. (Wired Science)

Sext

¶ We’ve discovered a new blog (better to say that a new blog discovered us): My Dog Ate My Blog. We’re very heartened by the overlap in our interests, and the fresh writing is brisk and engaging. In a recent entry, Sarah McCarthy writes about the thorny decision in the eminent-domain case, Kelo v City of New London.

Nones

¶ Parag Khanna never mentions Jane Jacobs in a post at Foreign Policy that might as well entitled “Cities and the Wealth of Nations,” — it’s called “Beyond City Limits” insteaad — but what’s somewhat more troubling is the non-appearance of military considerations. With the exception of Venice (which established a large hinterland on both sides of the Adriatic, city states have rarely mastered the defense problem, and never for very long. Toward the end, the focus shifts somewhat, via a discussion of the gee-whiz Korean urban project at Songdo: cities are indeed our laboratories for the future. (via BLDBLOG)

Vespers

¶ At HTMLGiant, Roxanne Gay announces something new: a Literary Magazine Club. Every month will feature a different “little magazine,” starting with one that we’ve never heard of, New York Tyrant. (That would be the Editor, surely.) We’ve ordered a copy!

Compline

¶ Also sitting in for Felix Salmon, Barbara Kiviat picks up a hot topic that was raised in the Times over the weekend: the renewed willingness of economists to take cultural considerations into account when talking about poverty. Such talk makes her uncomfortable, as indeed it does us. If there’s a connection, it’s mediated by other factors, ranging from education to public transport, all of which can be more or less subsidized without affecting individual income.

Have A Look

Paris en noir et blanc. (via Mnémoglyphes)

Nailing Cockerham. (The Age of Uncertainty)

Daily Office:
Monday, 18 October 2010

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Matins

¶ Justin E H Smith argues passionately for the centrality of foreign-language study in the humanities curriculum. In our view, language makes the difference between true education and hot air.

Lauds

¶ HTMLGiant‘s Kyle Minor is in town, where he spent a chunk of time at the IFC, watching Olivier Assayas’s Carlos. At 5 hours 19 minutes runtime, the Roadshow Edition of this film calls for serious intestinal fortitude, which is why we’re grateful for Kyle’s report, which also serves to remind us how much political orientations have changed since we were his age.

Prime

¶ Maybe the practice of economics will be truly scientific some day, but two pieces in the Times over the weekend show where the difficulty of attaining true predictability lies: in economists’ very imperfect understanding of human nature — namely their own, as reflected in philosophical bias. First, in a piece on income inequality, Robert Frank reminds us how far economists have wandered from Adam Smith‘s fundamental concern for moral sentiments. Then, the tile of David Segal’s “The X-Factor of Economics: People” tells you where he’s going.

Tierce

¶ Chris Mooney picked up Sam Harris’s new book, and found that it repeated an objection to Mr Mooney’s “accommodationism” to which the blogger had responded before at The Intersection. We take Mr  Mooney’s part in this important discussion, which pits intellectual principles against respect for different views.

Sext

¶ At 1904, our friend George Snyder wonders, improbably we should have thought, if he is turning into his old man. He probably thought that it was improbable as well. If you live long enough, though, life does begin to look like the Princesse de Guermantes reception — minus the footmen and the goodies and mirrors and the feathers.

Nones

¶ Michael Pettis, an associate of the Carnegie Asia Program in Beijing, advances a modest proposal: instead of buying Treasuries, China ought to fund the rehabiliation of United States infrastructure. (via Humble Student of the Markets)

Vespers

¶ Alexander Chee proffers the syllabus for his graphic fiction course at Amherst — and explains why he did not offer the two-semester expansion that he’d have had no trouble filling.

Compline

¶ At The Awl, Mike Barthel’s engagine reflections on “Bully Crisis 2010,” wherein he asks, “What do we do with the assholes?”

Have A Look

Planet Berlin. (Strange Maps)

¶ Lisa Breslow’s Urban Silences; Tom Wizon’s Homespun Peregrinations. (ArtCat)

Daily Office:
Friday, 15 October 2010

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Matins

¶ You can almost hear the screenwriters cranking away in Marina del Rey: David Streitfelt’s front-page story about Nicolle Bradbury’s foreclosure and Thomas Cox’s successful attempt to halt it at the eleventh hour — thereby shutting down millions of such procedures across the country — must be sparking all the synapses nurtured by Erin Brockovitch. We’re sure that there is more  to Mr Cox’s story.

Lauds

¶ The trial of Getty Museum curator Marion True has been terminated on technical grounds by Italian judges. While this leaves Ms True in a limbo of allegations, the shock of her indictment has eliminated many dubious practices in the field of museum acquisitions. (LA Times; via  Arts Journal)

Prime

¶ At the head of his list of bad long-term investments, Philip (of Weakonomics) places the 30-year US treasury bond. Philip is not yet 30 years old himself. Does the rising generation regard Old Faithful with new skepticism?

Tierce

¶ A new study finds a correlation between the amount of walking an American is likely to do and the presence of a local rail network: convenient trains make for active pedestrians. (The Infrastructurist)

Sext

¶ Sal Cinquemani has some question about the “It Gets Better” campaign, in which (successful) adult gay men assure teens that their hassles will pass. All well and good, but hardly enough to make it better. (The House Next Door)

Nones

¶ Why China is so upset about Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize, even though there really are no (or not many) “dissidents” in China: in a land where history has a more cyclical look than it does almost anywhere else (with dynasties toppling every two hundred fifty years or so), elites try to forestall the seemingly inevitable. (LRB blog)

Vespers

M Rebekah Otto just bought a lot of books at a library book sale. Now she faces the familiar quandaries. (The Rumpus)

Compline

¶ Applying the principles of phylogenetics (evolutionary relatedness) to languages, and mapping social forms over the findings, yields controversial findings that Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel hails “the best method to solve questions about the evolution of political complexity.” (Nature; via 3 Quarks Daily)

Have A Look

¶ Steerforth’s Greatest Hits. (The Age of Uncertainty)

Daily Office:
Thursday, 14 October 2010

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Matins

¶ We don’t have a problem with ebooks, probably because we’re sure that books will continue to be produced — just as, digital cameras notwithstanding, we’re living in a golden age of archaic film revivals (callotype, &c). But book production will probably be a top-of-the-line affair, though, something that Joe Moran perhaps inadvertently hits on in his low-key jeremiad against ebooks. Hint: we remember when station wagons still had real wooden panels — to simulate the coaches that they permanently and utterly displaced.

Lauds

¶ We were just this minute shocked to read that there’s a critic out there who regards Eve Harrington and Addison deWitt as gay characters in Joseph Mankiewicz’s All About Eve. Happily, this idea was immediately refuted by The House Next Door‘s Odienator.

Prime

¶ Adam Gopnik’s review of Nicholas Phillipson’s new biography of Adam Smith, in the current issue of The New Yorker, sums up the latest scholarly thinking about the father of Anglophone economy, and suggests how much better off we would all be if we had really paid attention to what Smith actually had to say about the role of government in commercial affairs, instead of taking the free market fanatics’ word for it. [P] 

Tierce

¶ BPA has been declared “toxic” by Canadian authories. It’s a great first step, in the face of commercial resistance to the ban, which has held back state action in the United States in Europe. (See Adam Gopnik, Prime) (NYT)

Sext

¶ Jan Freeman looks into the pressing mystery of why we don’t say “governatorial.” (Globe; via The Morning News)

Nones

George Clooney, diplomat. (Washington Post; via Real Clear World)

Vespers

¶ Laura Miller gives us Michel de Montaigne — the patron saint of ruminative, unreliable bloggers. (Salon)

Compline

¶ Roger Cohen talks to Christiane Lagarde, French minister for the economy, about the need for retirement reform. (NYT)

Have A Look

The Procrastinators. (Brain Pickings)

Daily Office:
Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Matins

¶ In case we all have something better to do tomorrow, it’s been nice knowing you: “Retired NORAD Officer’s New Book Predicts a Tentative Worldwide UFO Display on October 13, 2010.” (Yahoo; via MetaFilter)

Lauds

¶ Dance director Robert Bettmann considers the “sequestration” of his art form, and the consequent drop in grants and revenues, as an industrial, not artistic, problem. We think that he’s barking up the right tree: dance, like all the fine arts, needs to re-present itself for new patrons. (Dance USA; via  Arts Journal)

Prime

¶ At naked capitalism, Yves Smith comments on a largely-overlooked wrinkle in the foreclosure mess: “Bank of America is now eating title insurance liability on foreclosed properties sold by its servicer.”

Tierce

¶ At the Telegraph, Tom Chivers talks to neuroscientist Paul Haggard about free will. Which, scientifically speaking, can’t exist. Which suggests to us, as it does to Mr Chivers, that the concept of free will needs to be revisited rather than junked. (via  The Morning News

Sext

¶ Simply by announcing, in the title of his blog, that “I Like Boring Things,” James Ward is letting us know that he himself is not boring. Something else, but not that. Be sure to click through for the comic.

Nones

¶ Although we believe that the first lesson in the study of history is that history does not repeat itself, we’re intrigued by Karim Sadjadpour’s re-reading of George Kennan’s 1947 “Sources of Soviet Conduct” essay, in which “Tehran” is substituted for “Moscow.” In other words, hunker down for the long haul. (Foreign Policy; via Real Clear World)

Vespers

¶ While a favorable review isn’t necessarilyas informative as it might be, it generally gives a much better sense of what a book is like than a bad review does, and for this very reason, a “good” review can function as a “bad” review. John Brown’s page on The Instructions, by Adam Levin, makes it sound like a hermetic game, not a novel. (The Rumpus)

Compline

¶ The biggest bone of contention in the labor dispute that has bogged France down in transport cuts appears to be a proposed raise in the retirement age, from 60 t0 62. (The idea that the Editor would have already retired under current rules cracks us up.) We understand why workers would want to collect pensions and days off sooner rather than later, but the youth of France also opposes the age increase. (WSJ)

Have A Look

Useless Australia. (Strange Maps)

Daily Office:
Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Matins

¶ Although we’re terrified of a Republican takeover of Congress, we try not to show it, even to ourselves, because fear is so bad for morale. We do our best and hope for the best. You’d think that politicians, clever boys that they are, would figure out a way to making doing the best and hoping for the best sound like a satisfying and doable social goal — but perhaps they’re not so clever, after all. And we’re left with the problem of an electorate disappointed by deflated hopes — the subject of an interesting essay by Drake Bennett at the Globe.  (via 3 Quarks Daily)

Lauds

¶ With the death of Joan Sutherland, the trio of Space Age voices has deserted Planet Earth.Like Birgit Nilsson and Luciano Pavarotti, Sutherland possessed a voice of superhuman power and accuracy, and reminded opera fans what it’s like to live in an era of exciting voices. As she was the first to say, however, Joan Sutherland was half of a team, and she is survived by the other half, her husband, Richard Bonynge, a man whose influence on his wife’s career brought Svengali to many minds. (NYT)

Prime

¶ Two good stories about business technology in today’s Times: Wayne Arnold’s report on the obstacles to cloud computing in Asia — China’s government requires Chinese servers, but the bandwidth isn’t up to the task — and Ashlee Vance’s story about Michael Simon, an entrepreneur who went to Hungary in 1992, after b school, and turned himself into a “mogul.”

Tierce

¶ Remember being told, when you were little, that deaf people can see better, and vice versa? It turns out to be objectively correct: the brain compensates for sensory deprivation by intensifying certain existing powers — the ones that would be especially useful to the deprived individual. (Wired Science)

Sext

¶ A story you gotta love: Speakeasy hounds are sniffing out Mad Men‘s plot twists but doing real-world research. When the American Cancer Society called on Sterling Cooper, in the last episode (this is pretend, mind you), did that herald a return of “Connie” Hilton, the real-life hotelier who appears in the show’s third season, and (also in real-life) a patron of the ACS?

Nones

¶ At Real Clear World, Claude Rakisits, of Australia’s Deakin University, calls for a Marshall Plan for Pakistan. A nice idea, but hardly viable without first abolishing Pakistan’s feudal power structure first. The plea is primarily useful as a reading on how inadequate the national and international response to the summer floods has been.

Vespers

¶ Ms NOLA tipped us off to a Tom-Sawyer event that’s going to hosted by the Philippine bloggers who run Literary Stew and Coffeespoons, in the second week in November (7-13): read a book published by the New York Review of Books (nyrb) and blog about it.

Compline

¶ David Brooks writes about “demosclerosis” (Jonathan Rauch’s coinage), the paralyzing effect of pension commitments. While we’re not entirely opposed to public-sector unions, the wrong-headedness of public-sector pensions is obvious. (We believe that pensions generally must be funded by payroll deductions — now, that is, rather than later.) (NYT)

Have A Look

¶ Terry Teachout’s “Not Unlike,” an illustrated memoir about color television.

The cloudy future of the Yerkes Observatory. (Wired Science)

Daily Office:
Monday, 11 October 2010

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Matins

¶ In Context, Amy Schalet writes about how differently adolescent sexuality (pretty much the same thing everywhere) is treated in the Netherlands. (via MetaFilter)

Lauds

Will French studios save British fimmaking? Adam Dawltry, at the Guardian, thinks that they might. (via  Arts Journal

Prime

¶ In an omnibus review of recent meltdown books, at Naked Capitalism, Satyajit Das has a lot of fun with the Money Honey’s contribution.

Tierce

¶ Everyone goes through a period, during adolescence if not later, of thinking that saying “thank you” is a meaningless social nicety. So it’s good to know that, quite aside from what your mother told you, expressing gratitude has objectively positive consequences. (PsyBlog)

Sext

¶ While it may be true that, on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog, it’s different if you’re known to be a woman, especially a young, pretty woman. Patrick Brown reflects on the problem — and it is a problem — by recounting the experience of a disturbing art installation. Do blondes have a life? (The Millions)

Nones

¶ As it turns out, John Cutler’s unspeakable syphilis “experiments” in Guatemala, recently unearthed by historian Susan Reverby, were conducted during one of the rare good times in that country. (LRB blog)

Vespers

The Millions‘s editorial intern, Ujala Sehgal, has unearthed a What-Is-Literature essay by Nobelist Mario Vargas Llosa that the New York Times published in 1984. Even in translation, its Latin impatience with physicial reality is palpable.

Compline

¶ Even though she intended to donate the proceeds of her recital in Detroit to the local orchestra’s pension fund, concert violinist Sarah Chang was hounded by union musicians into canceling the event, ostensibly in recognition of the Detroit Symphony’s labor dispute. The wrongheadedness of the campaign to prevent the making of fine music in a distressed city sharpens our sense that labor unions, while not necessarily bad in themselves, have got stuck in legacy issues. The fact that there was for many years an excellent symphony orchestra in Detroit does not mean that there ought to be one now.

Have A Look

Dalton Ghetti’s pencils. (Good)

Photos from the Sixties. The Eighteen Sixties. (The Age of Uncertainty)

Daily Office:
Friday, 8 October 2010

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Matins

¶ New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s withdrawal of support for a Hudson River rail tunnel was utterly predictable, because expensive infrastructure prrojects are anathema to Republicans. Why? Because everybody gets to use them. (The governor plans to divert funds to road and bridge repair, which is principally useful to automobile owners.) We wish that this were as obvious to Paul Krugman as it is to us, but no. (NYT

Lauds

¶ Kyle Minor’s impatience with his own failure to produce a good review of a book that he admires very much, Joshua Cohen’s Witz, explodes in a splat at HTMLGiant.

Prime

¶ Someone’s gotta do it — but making a free market in books is something that few people want to think about, much less confront. Perhaps it’s the afterburn of the pre-eminence of the Bible among books, but for some reason or other we balk at treating books as commodities, although that is of course what they are to everyone who hands them on their way to the reader. At Slate, Michael Savitz captures the cloud of bad vibrations in which he does his business. (via MetaFilter)

Tierce

“Small, crazy details” upend five centuries of physics — which is no surprise, since only now can we see what’s really going on in the world, instead of relying on thought experiments. (Wired Science)

Sext

¶ A good friend of the Editor has recommended Instapaper, and we look forward to having the time to explore it, especially because it shares our dedication to the pleasures of long-form reading. As usual, we’re too busy reading right now. (Capital; via Tomorrow Museum)

Nones

¶ China wants to give Norway a spanking. Guess why? Norway just slapped China — with a very unwanted Peace Prize.  (NYT)

Vespers

¶ Shocking evidence that parents want to spare their children the languors of childhood abounds in Julie Bosman’s report on the decline of picture-book sales. (Is this really a story for Lauds?) (NYT)

Compline

¶ It is no surprise that New York City and the Federal Government approach counterterrorism in opposite ways. Scott Horton outlines both, at Harper’s. We’re not New Yorkers for nothing.

Have A Look

Scout explores the Farley.

Special Pencils redux. (Globe)

Daily Office:
Thursday, 7 October 2010

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Matins

¶ We would like to think that mention of the “fragility of Pakistan“ marks an advance of sorts in the awareness of American diplomatic and military officials that our alliance with the government of Pakistan may turn into a pillar of salt at any moment. (NYT

Lauds

¶ We can’t think when we’ve been so keen on Chopin. Never, probably. And what we’re really into is listening to different performances. The music, qua sheet music, has become transparently familiar. Always fond of Vladimir Ashkenazy’s reading of the Nocturnes, for example, we’re surprised by how much more we like Artur Rubinstein’s way with the Ballades and the Scherzos. Now we’re going to look into some of the recommendations made by David Patrick Stearns, in a genial tour d’horizon of new Chopin recordings, at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Prime

¶ The abstract metrics of macroeconomics (does that even makes sense?) tend to fly right over (and through) our heads, but we’re not so hopeless with tangible assets — in today’s case, commercial real estate, which, according to the party line, has bottomed out. Nonsense! cries Jim Quinn — and he backs up his claim that things are going to get worse with a lot of comprehensible charts and graphs. Yves Smith, hosting Mr Quinn’s piece, begins by pointing out that a square-footage-per-capita figure of 24 betokened excess capacity to her when she had occasion to study the market over twenty years ago. Now, according to Mr Quinn, that figure has jumped 46 — compared to 13 in Canada. 

Tierce

¶ In a presentation (delivered at the Frankfurt Book Fair) that’s sure to be linked to far and wide, James Bridle pitches Open Bookmark, a proposed medium for storing and sharing the aura of reading a book, which in his view replaces the concept of the copy. Don’t miss it! (booktwo.org; via The Morning News)

Sext

¶ Sloane Crosley celebrates the Gotham-as-Gigantic-Hamlet myth as enthusiastically as anybody — she leaves her housekeys in her unlocked mailbox! — but she is finding that there are limits, beyond which “trusting” morphs into “thoughtless.” (NYT)

Nones

¶ Daniel Larison’s eloquent and sensible call for the dissolution of NATO. (The Week; via Real Clear World)

Vespers

¶ At 5 o’clock this morning, Mario Vargas Llosa got the call, right here in New York City. The Stockholm call. (NYT

¶ Benedicte Page’s list of five MVL must-reads. (Guardian)

Compline

¶ Lucky Nige takes a walk in West Surrey and passes directly in front of a house that we’ve always admired.

Have A Look

Executive Suite Primer. (Weakonomics)

Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Sasha Frere-Jones are not impressed by The Social Network. We loved the movie, but we see their point, and, anyway, the exchange makes us LOL. (The Awl)

The End of the Bacon Bubble? (WSJ; via The Morning News)

¶ The Mandelbox Trip. (via MetaFilter)

Daily Office:
Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Matins

¶ At The Baseline Scenario, historian Lawrence Glicksman makes an appeal that will be familiar to regular readers. For which lack of novelty we would apologize, if it were not for the importance of regular reminders that there is a movement afoot to transfer public wealth into private pockets.

Lauds

¶ This story doesn’t really have everything; it just feels like it: “Henning Mankell: The special relationship.” Or, “Bergman in Gaza.” (Independent; via  Arts Journal)

Prime

¶ Megan McCardle is not exactly dazzled by Steven Johnson’s new book, Where Good Ideas Come From. Innovation, as she suggests, often occurs at a pace that can’t be kneaded into a satisfying narrative. (WSJ; via Marginal Revolution.)

Tierce

¶ Since James Surowiecki wrote it, you probably won’t want to procrastinate about reading his piece on procrastination, “Later,” in The New Yorker. And, once you begin, you’ll soon be at the end, where there’s an intriguing debate about “the extended will,” which is common sense to Aristotelian humanists but cheating to Kantians. (And you don’t want that on your Kantians!)

Sext

¶ Philip Greenspun reviews The Social Network in personal terms not available to film critics: “ It was our generation’s job to show his generation how to do stuff, so we did our job and he did his.” (If only he’d commnented on the Winklevoss claims!)

Nones

¶ On the differences between Malaysia and Indonesia, fragments of a common territory divided by different colonial experiences. Luke Hunt’s “Love Thy Neighbour?“, in The Diplomat. (via Real Clear World)

Vespers

¶ Sort like discovering the truth about Santa Claus: at The Millions, Frank Kovarik reminisces about being forced to conclude that Franklin W Dixon, purported author of the Hardy Boys mysteries, could not possibly be one man.

Compline

¶ Now that RentAFriend is operating in the UK, BBC News asks Claire Prentice to try out the service in our own fair burgh.

Have A Look

¶ Paul Greenwood’s Teddy Bear collection, on the block. (Dealbreaker)

Daily Office:
Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Matins

¶ We’re of the opinion that armed civilian militias are essentially incompatible with civil representative democracy. Our response to Barton Gellman’s story in Time, “The Secret World of Extreme Militias,” however, is not to press for more stringent prohibitions on firearms. We take the growth of these groups as sympatomatic as a breach in the American fabric that needs to be repaired before it can be meaningfully defended. (via Scott Horton

Lauds

¶ Before you see The Social Network, how about a little theory? HTMLGiant‘s Lily Hoang takes Giorgio Agamben to the movies “(so to speak), and now she understands The Facebook for what it really is: an Apparatus. You’ve got to love it.

Prime 

¶ Felix Salmon’s admiring but also surprisingly humble take on Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job has us rethinking our weekly movie plans.

Tierce

¶ Sometimes scientists establish that our intuitions are correct. University of Texaas researchers have established an objective test for “style matching,” which is the harmony that any two people establish (or don’t) at the start of any conversation. Any good listener will unconsciously register it. (Telegraph; via The Morning News)

Sext

¶ James Ward’s Boring Conference is taking shape! We probably wouldn’t attend even if we were in London, but we’d buy the Official Souvenir, if there were one. Among the speakers: Naomi Alderman, Joe Moran, and Peter Fletcher — a man who has logged every sneeze since July 2007. (I Like Boring Things)

Nones

¶ Bernard Porter files a wistful report on recent Swedish elections, at the LRBlog.

Vespers

¶ Bill Morris glosses Elif Batuman’s LRB explosé about MFA Programs, at The Millions. Going to school is not the problem: education doesn’t kill writers. But Mr Morris agrees with Ms Batuman: aspiring writers ought to study literature, not “the craft of fiction.” (We believe that there is not only no better but no other way to learn how to write than to read, read, read.)

Compline

¶ Although the abuse of intellectual property laws (by those who would unnecessarily extend them to profit business corporations) does not bristle with the menace of armed militias, we believe that it is no less inimical to civil representative democracy. So we embrace Robert Darnton’s advocacy of a National Digital Library. (NYRBlog)

Have A Look

Buoyancy Bazooka. (Short Sharp Science)

Robert Boyle’s To-Do List. (3 Quarks Daily)

Daily Office:
Monday, 4 October 2010

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Matins

¶ In case anybody doubted it, black Americans have experienced a higher foreclosure rate than the rest of the population, in the wake of the subprime-mortgage bubble-burst. (via Felix Salmon)

Lauds

¶ What, according to columnist Mark Stryker, Matthew Barney is up to in Detroit. (Detroit Free Press; via  Arts Journal)

Prime

¶ At the Washington Post, Robert Samuelson looks into a new study showing that any net increase in jobs is the work of entrepreneurial start-ups. (via MetaFilter)

Tierce

¶ Eliza Strickland cautions the young ‘uns in the audience to bear in mind not only how far 20 light years really is but how much fuel would be required for the journey. Nobody’s going to Gliese 581g anytime soon. (Discoblog)

Sext

¶ James Davidson’s review of A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names, Volume V.A, is packed with learn-something-new-every-day goodies. It also takes more than half of its length to get round to the Greeks. Great fun! (LRB; via 3 Quarks Daily)

Nones

¶ At the National Review, Mario Loyola steps back from North Korea’s succession plans to ask how much longer a regime with only one half-hearted friend in the world — China, which consistently votes against North Korea at the United Nations — can continue to totter.

Vespers

¶ In an engrossing essay that appeared on the last page of the Week in Review section of the Times, novelist Michael Cunningham recounts the insight that enabled him to write the books that he wanted to write —he stopped thinking about himself and began writing for a hostess named Helen.

Compline

¶ The Reformed Broker read the story in the Times over the weekend, but does not feel sorry for Las Vegas, and, now that he’s said so, we feel sorry for Las Vegas — almost.

Have A Look

Florida Dreaming. (via kottke.org)

Daily Office:
Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Note: The Daily Office will resume on Monday, 4 October 2010.

Matins

¶ Although we stopped reading Thomas Friedman’s Op-Ed pieces five or six years ago, something about today’s column caught our eye — we have a thing for actual tea kettles — and pretty soon we were reading it.

Lauds

¶ Robert Levin, an accomplished man of music who has made a name for himself both as a concert artist and as a completer of unfinished compositions by Mozart and Schubert, among others, puts his fingers (all ten of them) on the jazz heart that beats inside “classical” music. (WSJ; via  Arts Journal)

Prime

¶ Conor O’Clery reports that the inevitable has begun: in yet another Irish diaspora, talented people are leaving their debt-saddled land for brighter economic opportunities. (GlobalPost

Tierce

¶ Ed Yong writes up a fascinating study about “stereotype threat” — anxiety about living up to the world’s expectations — that shows how crippling and unfair stereotypes really are. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Sext

¶ At The House Next Door, Aaron Cutler writes up the new Romanian movie, currently showing at the New York Film Festival, Tuesday, After Christmas; but his piece is really a heart-melting account of how his parents’ divorce made him into a moviegoer.

Nones

¶ Reading John Tagliabue’s dispatch from Chur, Switzerland, this morning, we reflected on the plight of languages that are spoken by relatively few people — and even fewer people who speak only those languages. Elisabeth Maranta runs a bookshop in Chur, where she offers books of poetry in Romansh, the fourth language of Switzerland, a legacy of the Roman Empire that is distinct from the Italian that is spoken elsewhere in the mountain nation. (NYT)

Vespers

¶ Getting back to Freedom, John Self’s neutral review is a concise example of what we’ll call the anti-phenomenal response to Jonathan Franzen’s novel. What readers who feel this way would have thought of the book if it had not been a hyper-mega publishing event will probably never be known, because the actual fiction was occluded for them by the trumpets of annointment.

Compline

¶ Ever since the days of the Sokal Hoax, we’ve had a bit of trouble taking Stanley Fish seriously (at the time, Professor Fish directed the Duke University Press, which published Social Text, the journal in which the hoax was perpetrated), but we can’t deny that we endorse his ideas about the counterproductivity of insulting rants in the Blogosphere.

Have A Look

Windsor Chairs. (Design Sponge)

Daily Office:
Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Matins

¶ Malcolm Gladwell revisits the Woolworth’s lunch-counter sit in that kicked off the civil-rights struggle of the 1960s, at Greensboro, North Carolina, and argues that it was not the sort of event that might be condensed from a lot of Tweets. (The New Yorker)

Lauds

¶ How much did Lehman Brothers (and its subsidiary Neuberger Berman) pay for the all the art that sold for $12.3 million at Sotheby’s over the weekend? Just wondering about the ROI. (ArtInfo; via The Awl)

Prime

¶ Felix Salmon isn’t particularly interested in Gawker Media baron Nick Denton, but he is intrigued by the implications what New York profiler Michael Idoff calls his “gravitating from the diary metaphor to the TV metaphor.”

Tierce

¶ Joanne McNeil was in New York recently, and she lost her wallet, she thinks, to a pickpocket. Maybe it fell onto the sidewalk, and maybe she might have found it — if she had been using the Nike+ iPhone app that day. (She wasn’t, because it’s a drain on the battery.) We’re on the cusp, it seems, of an era in which records of the little things that we do are converted by devices of one kind or another into information, information that might be very useful to us. Or would it be just more “digital clutter”? (Tomorrow Museum)

Sext

¶ We were saddened to learn, today, that George W S Trow died — nearly four years ago, a recluse in Naples. (No wonder we missed the news!) Trow was a New Yorker writer whose discomfort with developments in this country’s professional class was very congenial; his writing was driven to the conflicting aims of exactitude and comprehensiveness. To mark his birthday at Hilobrow, Joshua Glenn dances one of his mad cohort tangos, fitting Trow “on the cusp between the Anti-Anti-Utopians and Boomers.” A little rootling around brought up Brendan Bernhard’s 2007 memorial.

Nones

¶ As with the Nile, so with the Colorado: great rivers flowing through thirsty sovereignties pose knotty allocation problems. In addition, the Colorado River is drying out. (NYT)

Vespers

¶ Patrick Brown, surprised himself a bit ticked off by Flavorwire’s list of “Top 10 Bookstores in the US,” gives the manner some thought and makes a very sound observation: there’s only one “best bookstore,” and it’s the one that you patronize whenever you can. (The Millions)

Compline

¶ The upshot of Greensboro’s pivotal location in the civil-rights struggle may have turned it into a quiet place that’s just right for writers, as Bill Morris surmises. (The Millions)

Have A Look

How China blows up its GDP. (Zero Hedge)

Daily Office:
Monday, 27 September 2010

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Matins

¶ At The Economist, a knuckle-rapping for Constitution-worshiping Tea Partiers, who seem unaware of what manner of men wrote the document.

Lauds

¶ In a lovely piece about James Franco that is really about staying true to yourself while being dazzled by somebody famous, Jeff Price acknowledges the scorn that his friends heap upon him when he tells them his story about not accepting Mr Franco’s invitation to get a cup of coffee for the good reason that celebrities are best appreciated at a distance. (The Millions)

Prime

¶ “Structural Unemployment” is the new “personal responsibility” — crocodile tears from the Money Party. It’s not that there aren’t any jobs, they say, it’s just that today’s workers lack the proper training to fill them. Such eyewash hardly deserves rebuttal, but it gets it anyway from Yves Smith, Robert Reich, and Paul Krugman.

Tierce

¶ At Gene Expression, Razib Khan considers a recent paper arguing that ancient cities fostered the natural selection of an anti-tubercular gene. His thoughts about the populations of ancient cities leads to a different, and very interesting conclusion.

Sext

New Yorker writer Susan Orlean (author of The Orchid Thief) notes that the good advice that she used to offer to aspiring writers has “passed its sell-by date.”

Nones

¶ In the Times, Thanassis Cambanis writes about the potential for water wars up and down the Nile.

Vespers

¶ Now that everyone has had a chance to read it, Freedom is much in the Net news. This week, we’re going to collect a variety of responses to the novel (which we loved), beginning with Bookslut’s Jessa Crispin’s principled refusal to read it. (Smart Set; via 3 Quarks Daily

Compline

¶ We can’t decide. Does Curtis Eichelberger’s Bloomberg story, “Ivy League Football `Mafia’ Gives Wall Street a Talent Pipeline,” tell us that Ivy League colleges are recruiting athletes with promises of post-graduate positions on Wall Street? You decide. (via Dealbreaker)

Have A Look

Ivy Style readers remember the clothes they wore in college, way back in the middle of the Twentieth Century — and, in many cases, still wear, as the Editor can attest)

Daily Office:
Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

havealookdb1

Matins

¶ Here’s a “big government” story for you: for over twenty years, the federal government has dragged its feet about Jack DeCoster’s atrocious record as an egg-poisoner, forcing the states to adopt a patchwork of partial solutions. Mr DeCoster has only now been summoned to account for himself before Congress. Whatever he has to say, it will be the testimony of a man with friends in “big government.” (NYT)

Lauds

¶ The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas is closing — as how could it not? Most Americans alive today can’t remember the phenomenon personally, and unless they’re charged by actual memories, the entertainer’s relics become lifeless dreck. Stephany Anne Golberg reanimates Liberace just long enough to remind us what he was really all about. (The Smart Set)

Prime

¶ You may know that Jeffrey Stephan, a former executive at GMAC, has confessed that he “robo-signed” foreclosure-related affidavits despite the fact that he had none of the personal knowledge required to validate such documents. (This makes Mr Stephan one whopping perjuror.) GMAC’s successor, Ally Capital, has responded by halting foreclosures. Or has it? We’ve read Yves Smith’s probe of the fiasco with cold-fusion despair — what can be expected of financial companies, and yet how are we ever to extricate ourselves from their muck? — but we’re going to let Felix Salmon point the moral of the tale.

Tierce

¶ The idea of a self-organizing system of traffic lights — one that responds to actual traffic conditions instead of working from a timer — is very, very cool, of course. But marks the story for us is the deeper and wider trend that stories such as this reflect. We are moving away from the authority of binary systems (yes/no; right/wrong; on/off) and toward the understanding of live complexity. In other words, We’re learning who we really are, and not trying to be something that we think we ought to be.

Sext

¶ This just in! Commander Lightoller’s granddaughter tells why the Titanic hit the iceberg! 98 years later, his coverup is revealed! (Guardian; via The Morning News)

Nones

¶ Times columnist David Leonhardt explains why the Chinese renminbi exchange rate is more important than the Chinese say that it is, if less important than American businessmen claim. It’s a matter of little stimulus packages — if $10 million is your idea of “little.”

Vespers

¶ Inspired by Blake Butler’s compendium of books that David Foster Wallace held in high regard, M Rebekah Otto shares her disappointment with books recommended by writers whom she admires. (The Millions)

Compline

¶ At the end of her warm review of Rebecca Traister’s Big Girls Don’t Cry, Connie Schultz offers some really, really good advice — plus a reminder that the young men who “radicalized” Traister’s feminism by denigrating Hillary Clinton are probably not themselves going to become any friendlier to the cause of women’s equality. (Washington Post)

Have A Look

Seven Highly Effective Habits of Facebook. (PsyBlog)

Der Tiefstapler. (Metamorphosism)

Anti-Vampire gizmo. (Good)