Daily Office:


Matins: The Chinese milk problem is the second of this year’s challenges to the Way They Live Now. (Shoddy constructions of the schools that collapsed upon students during the Sichuan earthquake back in May was the first.) Flames from the scandal continue to reach higher into the hierarchy. As China grows more affluent, these scandals will probably increase.

Tierce: You’d think that the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression might inspire the Bush Administration to change its ways. Not a bit of it. What we’re getting is a replay to the Iraq run-up. The government’s bailout plan is written in the Key of Panic.

Nones: Have you discovered a great little organic red wine from Chile, Palin Syrah? It used to a big seller at Yield, a hip San Francisco wine bar, but no longer.

Compline: Google Maps now offers NYC subway directions! (via kottke.org)


§ Matins. Why will they increase? Consider this:

City officials in Shijiazhuang, where Sanlu is based, were also sacked, with a senior provincial official saying they knew of the problem for over a month without taking action – only telling Beijing once the Olympics were over.

The awful truth is that the line between business and government, especially at the local level, is purely imaginary.

§ Tierce. Kathleen was fairly wailing at dinner last night that the very same masters of the universe who engineered the catastrophe are lining up to advise the Treasury about managing its proposed new acquisitions (tons of supposedly worthless derivatives). Critics of the plan would prefer a solution composed in Equity, rather than Debt, Mode — with a finale out of Don Giovanni for the predatorially compensated.

“It absolutely has to be punitive,” Mr. Baker said. “If they sell us the junk, then we own the company. This isn’t a way to make these companies and their executives rich. This should be about keeping them in business so the financial system doesn’t collapse.”

The irony is — I really want to put that in quotes: “The irony is” — that in 2003 we didn’t have to do anything. Nothing was happening, outside the bubble of the Administration’s conniptions. Now, of course, the sky really is falling, and quick action is essential — but you remember the one about the boy who cried “Wolf!”

§ Nones. Meanwhile, all those of you for whom Michael Palin is “my favorite Monte Python,” raise your hands!

§ Compline. It’s really pretty scary — Google Maps tells you whether the Express or the Local is going to arrive first — until you realize that these schedules are pretty notional.

…. And on second thought, I wouldn’t recommend this route to the Cloisters.

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