Daily Office:


Matins: Bernard Madoff is expected to plead guilty to 11 felony counts — enough to put him away for several lifetimes. How very dissatisfying!

Lauds: Movie box office is up — so why are the studios laying people off? Because they’re part of ailing bigger conglomerates. Take GE, for example … (via Arts Journal)

Prime: Meet Kate McCully, Boston’s Grammar Vandal.

Tierce: I try to avoid writing about stories that I don’t understand, but Stephen Labaton’s “Some Banks, Citing Strings, Want to Return Federal Aid” has me scratching a hole in my scalp.

Sext: John Tierney focuses his skepticism on the meaning of dreams. (No surprise: he makes it sounds kinda like Ouija.)

Nones: General de Gaulle’s withdrawal from the military command of NATO, in 1966, made great sense. So does President Sarkozy’s return.  

Vespers: Alexander Chee’s “Portrait of My Father,” at Granta Online.

Compline: Christopher Shea shares the outrage of the latest stretch of academic exploitation: not only do TAs have to do a full-time job, but they have to waive all the benefits that go with full-time work.


§ Matins. If he does so, the rapacious fraudster will slip into prison without ever having faced a public tribunal of any kind. Although there is no need to establish his guilt (or, sadly, his losses), there is a legitimate human need for him to undergo some kind of public ordeal. At a minimum, his victims ought to be permitted to address brief statements to him in a forensic setting.

§ Lauds. … and, while you’re at it, just take GE out of the entertainment business altogether. I hope that it doesn’t too long to shake off the idiotic notion that every enterprise can be forced by market discipline (and quarterly reports) to become a “business” just like any other.

§ Prime. Ms McCulley declares: “I carry a sheet of comma stickers and a Sharpie with me at all times, ready to fix each mistake. If an error glares at me, I’m there to destroy it.” Which is all very well; but how does she get rid of unnecessary quotation marks?

§ Tierce. As one early commentator notes, only two banks are cited as actually planning to return federal bailout money. Is there really a story here?

Assuming that there is a story (and that Mr Labaton isn’t simply taking dictation from tank thinkers), is it just possible that bankers are foolish enough to follow orders from Uncle Rush, imagining that they will Help Obama Fail?

§ Sext. If I thought that dreams represented anything more than the shuffle of cerebral debris, I don’t think that I’d have the nerve to go to sleep. The only dream-variable that interests me (“interests” is not really the word) is its intensity — its ability to impinge upon wakeful consciousness with something of the sensory power of actual shock.

Once every c0uple of years, I have a genuinely sweet dream — one so nice, in fact, that it’s a pleasure to wake up from: it sends me back to life with a caress.

§ Nones. Critics worry that military participation in NATO will make France the slave of American whims. Such thinking is almost nostalgic. Such possibilities have been knocked out with the one-two punch of  Bush-era recklessness and the current president’s formidable circumspection.

§ Vespers. I’ve been carrying around Granta 104 for a few weeks now; I was appalled to think that I’d overlooked a friend’s piece. As I say, though, it’s online.

§ Compline. Where does all that tuition money go?

When my father was a director of 20th Century Fox, a major accounting firm was called in to consider the studio’s expenses. For me, the most memorable finding (I was a tremendous snoop) was that the boxing shorts worn by actor James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope ought to be purchased, not rented (at $50 per diem — in 1970!). I expect that an investigation of university spending would reveal similar hemorrhages.

2 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Fossil Darling says:

    Madoff : After reading the article in Vanity Fair about his treachery even to those close to him, my solution remains : shoot him in the knees, toss him a small bottle of baby aspirin, and toss him in a noise-proff cell.

  2. jkm says:

    Re: Tierce: There is a story here, and based on what I’m hearing it’s not just a matter of one or two banks wanting to return TARP funds, nor is it a matter of the banks blindly following Uncle Rush. As I understand (and I have, thankfully, managed to stay far, far away from direct participation in TARP matters), the banks’ concerns arise out of a provision in the standard form securities purchase agreement that allows the Treasury Department to unilaterally amend the agreement to the extent required to comply with future changes in applicable federal law. Consequently, banks applied for and/or accepted investments from the Treasury Department under one set of rules but are now finding themselves subject to different rules that may change again and again, depending upon the views of the Congress (and the manner in which any statutory requirements are interpreted by the Treasury Department). If I were a member of management of a bank that didn’t need Treasury funds to remain in business, I’d be hesitant to enter into (or remain in) such a one-sided contractual arrangement.