Daily Office:


Matins: Good news on the international justice front:

Judges at the International Criminal Court have decided to issue an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, brushing aside diplomatic requests to allow more time for peace negotiations in the conflict-riddled Darfur region of his country, according to court lawyers and diplomats.

Lauds: What do you think? Does support from dodgy, possibly criminal corporations corrupt the arts that they subsidize? Tom Service, at the Guardian, certainly thinks so.

How can the art made at festivals sponsored by these bankrupt individuals and companies do the job that classical music should do, and have a necessary, critical voice in contemporary culture, if it continues to be supported by the dead hand of big banking?

Prime: Eric Patton celebrates the Darwin bicentennial by turning to The Pillow Book — not Peter Greenaway’s film so much as Sei Shonagon’s book — at SORE AFRAID. What on earth has the one got to do with the other? Having scrolled through Eric’s photographic lists, one will find Darwin’s conclusion all the more immanently enlightened.

I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.

Tierce: Personality clash or whistleblowing? “You decide.” Either way, Sir James Crosby, who fired an evident whistleblower when he ran the now-ailing HBOS, has had to resign as Britain’s deputy chairman of the Financial Services Authority.

Sext: We take you now from the buttoned-down elitism of The Daily Blague to Belfast, Maine, where a trust fund baby from California who collected Hitler’s silverware was found, after having been shot dead by his wife, Amber, to have been stockpiling the raw materials for a dirty nuclear bomb! (Thanks Alexander Chee!)

Nones: Isn’t it amazing? In a mere half-century, we have cluttered inner space with tons and tons of junk. Two items crashed on Tuesday.

But experts now see another potential threat. Richard Crowther explained: “Unique to the Iridium system is that all the remaining 65 satellites in the constellation pass through the same region of space – at the poles.

“So the debris cloud that is forming as a result of the Iridium satellite breakup will present a debris torus of high (spatial) density at 90 degrees to the equator that all the surviving Iridium satellites will need to pass through.”

Intact satellites share Earth’s orbit with everything from spent rocket stages and spacecraft wreckage to paint flakes and dust.

The diffuse mist of junk around our planet is the legacy of 51 years of human activity in space.

Vespers: Valerie Martin has a little list: six great novels about doomed marriages. Before peeking, make your own list. Okay, now you can look.

Compline: An amusingly ambiguous map from newgeography: American states that people don’t leave? Or states that they don’t move to? (via Brainiac)


§ Matins. “Ethnic cleansing” is almost too nice a term for what President Bashir’s regime has perpetrated in the southern, non-Muslim part of his country — which is not supposed to be part of his country in the first place. More British map-making follies.

§ Lauds. In 1940, Texaco began underwriting Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. Why?

Texaco badly needed such enhancement in 1940 when it was headed by Torkild Rieber, a Norwegian and rabid fan of Adolf Hitler. In the late 1930s, Rieber ignored the Neutrality Act under which the United States was operating and had Texaco tankers bring oil to the Nazi-backed Franco forces in Spain. In June 1940, when France fell, Rieber celebrated the event with a party at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. At the same time, Texaco harbored a German spy, Gerhardt Westrick, in its offices in New York City. Writing in the New York Herald Tribune, William Stephenson, the British intelligence chief in New York, disclosed that Texaco was paying Westrick’s salary, providing him with an office and a large house in Scarsdale. From his Texaco office, Westrick sent a detailed profile of the American aircraft industry to Berlin.

When these activities surfaced, Texaco shareholders became so enraged that Rieber was forced to resign. And it was then, in 1940, that Texaco’s mea culpa resulted in the Metropolitan Opera sponsorship as a way of establishing itself as an upright corporate citizen.

War das so schlimm? But what do you think?

§ Prime. Maybe it’s just me, and maybe it’s just age,  but the satisfaction of literary achievement is not only simpler but keener than that of (say) orgasm. Sex has all those unwanted relatives, who start screaming and making demands at the very moment one wants them to go away.

§ Tierce. There really is no difference, is there? What is a “personality clash” but the refusal to recognize the CEO’s “my way or the highway” rule?

HBOS, the New School … it really doesn’t matter. Corporations aren’t going to work until we cleave boards of directors from CEOs. Have boards appoint themselves; or — here’s an idea! — how about making the shareholders do it?

§ Sext. There’s almost too much stuff in this story for a movie. Don’t  miss the account of the murder in the deceased’s home-town paper, the Fort Bragg Advocate-News. Nor the comments!

§ Nones. If we could only work out some symbiosis, or synergy, whereby the greenhouse gases would dissolve all the old, unwanted satellites.

§ Vespers. I would have to add Effi Briest. And, um, Anna Karenina. Her Wharton choice is good, but consider Ethan Frome: a marriage so doomed that there are three zombies at the end!

§ Compline.  Most interesting of all: New York’s first, Louisiana’s second. But, seriously, New York’s native-born population rate must mean that nobody leaves Upstate, because how else could the figure offset the prevalence of foreign-born inhabitants in New York City?

3 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Migs says:

    Hmm, I wonder where Ethan Frome is? Or is that NOT considered a novel?

  2. Migs says:

    Oh – you’ve been thinking the same thing! Of Martin’s list of six, I’ve only read one. The James. And that was discouraging enough, I tell you.

  3. Coralie says:

    Thanks for shinrag. What a pleasure to read!