Daily Office:
Thursday

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Matins: It’s as though everyone decided to spend the holidays pretending that things were fine: now that we’re back in the real world, the disasters just pile up like planes over O’Hare. “China Losing Taste for Debt From the U.S.

Lauds: Once upon a time, the Germans copied the French: Imperial princelings replicated, to the extent that their incomes would allow, Louis XIV’s country house (and stealth capitol) at Versailles. Now the Germans have taken the initiative, and the French are just watching.

Prime: The (only) good thing about Web log awards is the chance to discover sites that you haven’t heard about. I don’t remember the category in which I came across Dizzying Intellect — the categories are utterly spurious in any case — but it doesn’t matter, because I found it.

Tierce: Too big to filch? Bernard Madoff has been making unauthorized distributions of assets, according to prosecutors. His attorneys claim that the Cartier watches are relatively inexpensive sentimental items that Mr Madoff would like his family to have. In the dictionary, under the word “chutzpah”…. Alex Berenson reports.

 ¶ Sext: The thing to note about developer Fred Milani — if you can get beyond the House — is that he is “not very political.” Exactly! No politically-minded person would erect a scaled-down adaptation — “replica” is not the word — of the “President’s House.” The politically-minded person would be interested only in the real thing. And that’s not all…

Nones: Trying to find an update on the violence in Greece that the Times reported the other day — it’s coverage, dismayingly, is better than that of the English papers that I’ve checked, as well as the BBC’s — I discover that the Turkish government has rounded up a bunch of secularist critics and accused them of fomenting a plot. This story does come from the BBC.

Vespers: I’ve done just about nothing today but read Brian Morton’s first novel, The Dylanist. Published in 1991, this is a novel to dust off and re-read in the Age of Obama, not so much for any specific political alignment as for its portraits of people who are too richly principled for cynicism.

Oremus…

§ Matins. As indeed it must. Now that we’re not buying piles of crap from Shenzhen, China has money problems of its own, and can’t afford to spend billions on the noble enablement of our debt. Too bad we’re going to need to borrow even more heavily now!

What the world needs now is an update of the games Botticelli and Fictionary, in which players spin dials to find out whether they’re going to have to defend or excoriate Dubya. I can hear the rueful laughter from here!

§ Lauds. They may talk, in Paris, about rebuilding the Tuileries [scroll down], but backhoes have not been invited to tear up the gardens that take their name from Marie de’ Medicis’ palace, destroyed in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. Surely even the most nostalgic Frenchman are watching the hole that the Berliner’s have made of the Palace of the Republic, a brutalist pavilion built on the site of the old Hohenzollern schloss. In these times of skimpy fiscs, that hole may remain unplugged for a while, not least because nobody really knows what to do with a royal palace in the absence of royals.

§ Prime. This will sound totally politically incorrect, because it is, but I read through four or five entries before I learned the blog keeper’s gender. That ambiguity alone makes the site worth reading, even after it’s gone.

§ Tierce. Of course, the total value of these baubles, while significant to you and me, is barely the vapor of a drop in the bucket of the Madoff looting.

Meanwhile, there’s that smirk. Archaic smile?

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 § Sext. I’d wager that most Americans do not see the actual White House in political terms. It’s clearly built to look as though it housed someone above politics — to be the residence of a (figure)head of state. In unrelated White House news: Brush up on your Spanish.

§ Nones. Turkey and Thailand seem to be running on parallel tracks at the moment, for their own wildly different reasons. (Maybe not so different!)

§ Vespers. Now I have to get back to my book.