Daily Office:


Matins: Floyd Norris on our current adventure, “The Long Way Down”:

Will this fall be recovered within a week? That is not likely unless someone develops a financial system to replace the fallen one that was based on the fantasy that investors could finance very risky loans, via complicated securitizations, without taking risks.

Tierce: Just my luck: having decided to steer The Daily Blague on a course of secular humanism, I confront a wave of financial disaster that, just to make things irritating as well as inopportune, I’ve been worried about for years. At some point, I knew, some event would act to pull the plug on the warm bath of Greenspansiveness.

I could spend my days writing links to old Portico pages and Daily Blague entries that illustrate my prescience (which was really just common sense), but I think it more sporting to let others demonstrate, if they can, that I was just as deluded, on occasion, as the tycos of Wall Street. I’m too busy, anyway, listening to foreign language lessons on my Nano. Can Teach Yourself Latin — as an audio course — be far off?

Sext: It’s heartening to see Jason Kottke zero in on what’s most important about the coming election. Writing about The New Yorker’s endorsement of Barack Obama in the current issue, Mr Kottke writes,

The key part of the article concerns the candidates’ possible appointments to the Supreme Court and their consequences. A more conservative court scares the shit out of me.

Compline: When I wrote the entry for Sext, I hadn’t read “The Talk of the Town” myself. When I did read it, just now, over dinner, my eyes welled over. As long as an organ of the MSM can turn out a Ciceronian oration of such efficient persuasion, the United States is not altogether broken.

We cannot expect one man to heal every wound, to solve every major crisis of policy. So much of the Presidency, as they say, is a matter of waking up in the morning and trying to drink from a fire hydrant. In the quiet of the Oval Office, the noise of immediate demands can be deafening. And yet Obama has precisely the temperament to shut out the noise when necessary and concentrate on the essential. The election of Obama—a man of mixed ethnicity, at once comfortable in the world and utterly representative of twenty-first-century America—would, at a stroke, reverse our country’s image abroad and refresh its spirit at home. His ascendance to the Presidency would be a symbolic culmination of the civil- and voting-rights acts of the nineteen-sixties and the century-long struggles for equality that preceded them. It could not help but say something encouraging, even exhilarating, about the country, about its dedication to tolerance and inclusiveness, about its fidelity, after all, to the values it proclaims in its textbooks. At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader’s name is Barack Obama.


§ Matins. What hurts is his next sentence: “Within 18 months, we have gone from a lack of concern about risk to extreme risk aversion.” Not only do I have to live in a country that put George W Bush in the White House — twice —  but I’m surrounded by idiots who as recently as 18 months ago (and we’re being generous here) lacked concern about risk.

I wish that people would stop fretting about the death of capitalism. First of all, hardly anybody understands what capitalism is. (It’s generally confused with a misty notion of large corporations with even more investors than employees.) What’s dead, at least for a while, is the idea that unfettered free markets are desirable. Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand can’t seem to work the remote and turn off CNBC.

§ Tierce. In case you didn’t know, Adam D Blistein, of the American Philological Association, is here to tell you:

“Goethe is better in German, Flaubert is better in French and Virgil is better in Latin,” Dr. Blistein said. “If you stick with it, the lollipop comes at the end when you get to read the original. In many cases, it’s what whets their appetite.”

And, as I’m sure you did know, Edgar Allan Poe is better in French, too. Much better. How curious that the latest boom in Latin studies should be powered by Harrius Potter?

§ Sext. I don’t know if it’s enough in time, rather than too little too late, but I sense an atmosphere of lessons learned from the 2004 election: less ranting, more thinking. In most cases, that fine old “Wait till they read this!” feeling has to be tamped down. If nothing else, it’s bad for one’s health.

§ Compline. While, on the other side:

Echoing Obama, McCain has made “change” one of his campaign mantras. But the change he has actually provided has been in himself, and it is not just a matter of altering his positions. A willingness to pander and even lie has come to define his Presidential campaign and its televised advertisements. A contemptuous duplicity, a meanness, has entered his talk on the stump—so much so that it seems obvious that, in the drive for victory, he is willing to replicate some of the same underhanded methods that defeated him eight years ago in South Carolina.

One Response to “Daily Office:

  1. jkm says:

    Ditto what Jason Kottke said. But a very close second in the fear-factor category for me is a lipstick-wearin’ pitbull as VP also.