OMG! We meant “Pakistan”! (BBC News)
OMG! We meant “Pakistan”! (BBC News)
¶ 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)
¶ 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)
¶ 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.
¶ 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)
¶ Matins: In an over-and-above beautiful essay, Jonathan Raban recollects that he was taught to read, first, by his mother, and then, by William Empson. But Seven Types of Ambiguity opened his eyes to more than texts. (London Review of Books)
¶ Lauds: With trademark lucidity, Anne Midgette finds similarities between the troubles that newspapers are suffering these days and the woes of symphony orchestras. Not only that; she puts her finger on what’s wrong wrong with plans to “save” them. (Washington Post; via Arts Journal)
¶ Sext: Scouting New York, which has just turned one year old, continues its exploration of the city’s out-of-the-way cemeteries. Moore-Jackson, in Woodside, looks like a destination park, but Scout tells us that it’s all locked up. (How did he get in, we don’t wonder?)
¶ Nones: Although Peter Galbraith doesn’t appear, at first glance, to have done anything wrong, he doesn’t seem to have been much concerned about the appearance of impropriety. While in some sort of complicated, conditional contractual relationship with a Norwegian drilling company, he participated in Iraqi constitutional negotiations (as an adviser, obviously) that resulted in Kurdish control over oil revenues. As a result of both factors, he stands to gain about $100 million.
¶ Vespers: In today’s Times, two good-sounding books received generous coverage in the form of news stories. That ought to do it so far as the Grey Lady is concerned. Neither book warrants coverage in the Book Review. (Janet Maslin gave Mr Agassi’s book a guarded rave in the daily paper.)
The first is Andre Agassi’s memoir, for which T J Moehringer, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Tender Bar served as “midwife.” Mr Moehringer insists that he did not ghostwriting, but only coaxed Mr Agassi into writing a good book.
The other book is high-end furniture restorer Maryalice Huggins’s Aesop’s Mirror: A Love Story. Although we’re looking forward to reading this book, we don’t want to read any more about it.
¶ Compline: Compline: Gene doping is already prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency, but fat lot of good that is going to do the inspectors, given the difficulties of detection. (Short Sharp Science)
¶ Matins: “Terrifyingly cavalier” — we expect that Elizabeth Kolbert is right to respond to SuperFreakonomics with alarm. Shooting SO2 aerosols into the atmosphere through an eighteen-mile hose does not sound like a promising solution to the problem of global warming. The Two Steves look to be in need of adult supervision! (The New Yorker)
¶ Lauds: In the future, will the great nudes of fine art sport fig leaves and other coverings that, as the spectator desires, may be made to fall away? Does Marcel Duchamp’s rather nasty peepshow, Étant Donnés, cap a Renaissance tradition? Blake Gopnik’s second blush. (Washington Post; via Arts Journal)
¶ Prime: Steve Tobak addresses a home truth: “Don’t Make Your Customers Deal With Your Problems.” He’s talking to business people, of course, but we substitute “readers” for “customers” and go from there. (Corner Office)
¶ Nones: It isn’t very neighborly of Cambodia’s Hun Sen to welcome Thai renegade (and former prime minister) Thaksin Shinawatra into his cabinet, as an economic adviser — and on the eve of a regional summit, at that! Thailand has recalled its ambassador, and its government “has expressed anger and embarrassment over the deal.” (BBC News)
¶ Vespers: Aleksandar Hemon fumes and steams about the posthumous publication of Nabokovian fragments. We can see why: the great writer intended for unfinished works to be destroyed at his death (in 1977). But the intentions were very naive, and possibly insincere: surely Nabokov was capable of destroying them himself after realizing that he would not live to finish his last project. (Slate; via Arts Journal)
¶ Compline: Simon Baron-Cohen argues that the elimination of a distinct Asperger syndrome diagnosis from the next edition of the standard psychiatric handbook (the DSM) — a move under consideration by the editors — would be premature at best. (NYT)
¶ Matins: Far be it from me to natter on about the Kurds — the largest ethnic group in the world without a country of its own. Farther still to crow, “I told you so,” as Kathleen reminds me every day that I could. I’m simply relieved to read this (accent on the third paragraph):
The Kurds are resisting, underscoring yet again the depth of ethnic and sectarian divisions here and the difficulty of creating a united Iraq even when overall violence is down. Tension has risen to the point that last week American commanders held a series of emergency meetings with the Iraqi government and Kurdish officials, seeking to head off violence essentially between factions of the Iraqi government.
“It’s the perfect storm against the old festering background,” warned Brig. Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, who oversees Nineveh and Kirkuk Provinces and the Kurdish region.
Worry is so high that the American military has already settled on a policy that may set a precedent, as the United States slowly withdraws to allow Iraqis to settle their own problems. If the Kurds and Iraqi government forces fight, the American military will “step aside,” General Thomas said, rather than “have United States servicemen get killed trying to play peacemaker.”
¶ Tierce: Two pieces about decision-making — on the OpEd page! Let me know if the piece about “Undecideds“ by Sam Wang and Joshua Gold, of Princeton and Penn, tells you something you didn’t know. But don’t miss David Brooks on what he calls “the coming-out party for behavioral economists.”
You can always remove yourself from it by choice, for sure. Go on computer vacation and never check e-mail (unless you have an iPhone) and never get WiFi access in your hotel room and never worry about what’s going on the world at CNN.com or NYTimes.com or the blogs you regularly check or the friends who live — at least partially — online. Frankly, I’ve tried it and it sucks. It’s too much a part of my life now, rather than a peripheral of it. I rely on my computer and the web to be part of my life, and when the familiarity of my own computer is taken away from me, even when it’s replaced by another one, I am left lost and forlorn.
* Two computers that I use every day, with most apps loaded on both.