Daily Office:


Matins: For many of us, it’s not happening fast enough — but it is happening. “Call to relax Guantanamo regime.”

A US defence department review of conditions at Guantanamo Bay detention camp has called for an easing of the isolation of prisoners there.

The Pentagon report says inmates should be allowed more social interaction and opportunities for recreation.

Lauds: How bad can things be, if the Saint Laurent auction brought in $264 million — on the first night!

Prime: An intriguing graphic from GOOD Blog: trackage/ridership of the top five US/top five global subway systems. While New York’s system is by far the longest in terms of miles, and its ridership is several times larger than other American cities by a factor of five or more, ridership in Tokyo, Moscow and Seoul is considerably greater. (via Infrastructurist)

Tierce: From the Dept of Schadenfreude: “Nearly 75% of ex-Bush officials looking for jobs are unemployed.” (via Koreanish).

Sext: Rachel Getting Married meets Donald Barthelme: Frank Ferri’s “My Ideas For Staged Photos Set Me Apart From Other Wedding Photographers.” (via Morning News)

Nones: In the absence of a truly interesting story from the global news network, we bring you the following dog’s tea, with contributions from Sweden, the UK, Japan, and — inevitably — Zimbabwe.

Vespers: Ian McEwan’s tribute to John Updike may be just what we’ve been waiting to read; but, if you ask me, it’s too nice.

And now this masterly blasphemer, whose literary schemes and pretty conceits touched at points on the Shakespearean, is gone, and American letters, deprived in recent years of its giants, Bellow and Mailer, is a leveled plain, with one solitary peak guarded by Roth. We are coming to the end of the golden age of the American novel in the twentieth century’s second half.

Mighty praise, but for accomplishments rather too precisely detailed.

Compline: When I think of the impact of dodgy finances on airline safety, I think of maintenance, but Captain Sullenberger’s testimony before Congress introduces a new worry — or, rather, confirms a worry that was introduced by last week’s crash in Buffalo. Oremus…

§ Matins. We wait to hear what Attorney General Eric Holder, visiting the camp, has to say.

§ Lauds. Don’t worry; I’m not really asking.

§ Prime. Where’s London? The Métro is larger?

§ Tierce. I can’t say that this news makes my day, exactly, but it has someting of the rich complexity of a fine wine.

§ Sext. Which idea is your favorite? I like them all, although they could never be as funny to look at as they are to read. Even the first one isn’t as normal as it seems. Here’s the third, which bangs the wrong-note gong:

Bride and groom sitting in a makeshift raft. Both looking like scared Cubans defecting to America.

If weddings were planned by grooms instead of brides, you can bet that Mr Ferri wouldn’t be making any of this up.

§ Nones. What would I do without BBC World News? Amazingly, the Wikipedia page for Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria’s fiancé, Daniel Westling (soon to be Duke Daniel to you), has been updated to reflect today’s announcement of the engagement. It somehow figures that personal training is today’s royal route to royalty. What would HM the Queen Mum have made of such a mésalliance? We can only gaze at her newly-unveiled memorial and wonder. (Not to mention in wonder — shouldn’t there be a wee martini olive somewhere?) Speaking of the departed, Japan’s former finance minister, Shoichi Nakagawa, fell asleep at a press conference in Rome earlier this month; now you can try to keep him awake on your mobile. Resigning his cabinet most at least leaves Mr Nakagawa free to help sort out the Mujuru gold jamboree; I’m sure that he’s just the sort of referee that the Zimbabwean vice president has in mind.

§ Vespers. Not that I’m put out. I’ve been meditating my own response to Updike’s achievement for several years now, and maybe one of these days I’ll have something to say. I’m rather tickled, actually, by the impresion that Mr McEwan gives of putting his foot in it ever more deeply as his eloquence more closely approximates his subject’s.

§ Compline. The idea of corporate (for-profit) airlines is extremely goofy to begin with. As Kathleen learned in her early days, as a municipal-bond attorney, nobody every made a profit moving people. Subsidy is the name of that game.

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