Daily Office:


Matins: The President speaks at my alma mater. (via JKM)

Lauds: Mike Johnston writes about Andrea Land and quotes Bill Jay, at The Online Photographer . Mr Jay’s advice to young photographers palpably lends itself to wider application; ie to planning a life.

Prime: The times they are Auto Tune.

Tierce: It’s old news — it’s not news — but it would be remiss to omit a link to the Post’s photograph of “Rapunzel,” Brooke Astor’s last social secretary (Naomi Dunn Packard-Koot, who, it seems, has a nasty chewing-gum habit) striding along while Charlene Marshall dips into the Ladies’.

Sext: Giles Turnbull, of The Morning News, has a blast with the British MP expenses scandal. Did you know —

Nones: Oman, home of Café Muscato (very incidentally), is taxing smugglers. Well, at least the ones who deal in goods bound for Iran, across the Gulf of Oman. (You knew that.)

Vespers: While you were busy following Kindle pricing, Amazon went into the business of publishing actual books. Re-publishing them, actually, under the imprint AmazonEncore.

Compline: What makes us happy — over decades? Or, JFK, “no one’s idea of ‘normal’,” was a member of the sample.


§ Matins. Just trying to get my head round the idea that Ted the Head (Father Hesburgh to you) was there to hear the address is causing a mild seizure. (And here’s a question that I hadn’t thought to ask: Where do they play Bookstore Basketball these days? I am not looking for an answer, so save it.)

After all, I stand here today, as President and as an African American, on the 55th anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Now, Brown was of course the first major step in dismantling the “separate but equal” doctrine, but it would take a number of years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God’s children. There were freedom rides and lunch counters and Billy clubs, and there was also a Civil Rights Commission appointed by President Eisenhower. It was the 12 resolutions recommended by this commission that would ultimately become law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There were six members of this commission. It included five whites and one African American; Democrats and Republicans; two Southern governors, the dean of a Southern law school, a Midwestern university president, and your own Father Ted Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame. (Applause.) So they worked for two years, and at times, President Eisenhower had to intervene personally since no hotel or restaurant in the South would serve the black and white members of the commission together. And finally, when they reached an impasse in Louisiana, Father Ted flew them all to Notre Dame’s retreat in Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin — (applause) — where they eventually overcame their differences and hammered out a final deal.

And years later, President Eisenhower asked Father Ted how on Earth he was able to broker an agreement between men of such different backgrounds and beliefs. And Father Ted simply said that during their first dinner in Wisconsin, they discovered they were all fishermen. (Laughter.) And so he quickly readied a boat for a twilight trip out on the lake. They fished, and they talked, and they changed the course of history.

The real explanation is that Father Hesburgh threatened to tell his guests the one about the three bears.

§ Lauds. About the entry’s final paragraph, though —

Her pictures in “French Male Adolescent” might also be interesting, but I suspect they are a case where web representations fall too far below the threshold of acceptability to permit them to be adequately seen.

— What does “threshold of acceptibility” mean? Not “SFW,” evidently. Ms Land’s shots are all quite decent.

§ Prime. Do you think that Katie Couric’s career is still on very thin ice, now that she’s the star of a new medium?

§ Tierce. It is difficult to explain the newspaper’s colossal rudeness in printing this photograph. Ladies don’t need the Ladies’! To dip below the nadir of having one’s picture taking while popping into the loo, one would have to start taking off one’s clothes.

§ Sext. — that

* The Prime Minister claimed the cost of a cleaning contract he paid for jointly with his brother
  * Douglas Hogg claimed over £2000 for the clearing of the moat around his country estate
  * Hazel Blears said her London flat was her primary home, thereby avoiding taxes when she sold it; but she told Parliament that the same property was her official “second home”, which meant she could claim expenses for running and furnishing it
  * David Davies claimed £400 for overhauling a tractor mower, and £5,700 for installing a portico over the front door of his home
  * Sir Michael Spicer claimed £620 for installing a chandelier, and hundreds more pounds for cutting the hedge around his helipad (he later said the “helipad” isn’t an actual helipad, but a family joke; even so…)

Maybe Mr Hogg (!) had to have the moat cleared out so that he could get to the House via Sir Michael’s “family joke.”

§ Nones. Michael Slackman’s informative article depicts the absolute monarchy of Oman as a lubricator of contacts between Iran and the West — and also with the rest of the Arab world.

Oman, a strategically vital, insistently pragmatic country, has refused overtures of its larger neighbors to pull away from Iran. Instead, it defied Egypt and Saudi Arabia by declining to join them in boycotting a summit meeting in Qatar in January that was held to support Hamas, the Iranian-backed militant group. The Iranian news agency Fars said that Oman and Iran were close to completing a security pact.

§ Vespers. I’ve heard that self-publication is no longer the cranky/curmudgeonly act that it used to be; that, on the contrary, it’s a great way to get a book “out there.” These days, it seems, no one holds self-publication against an author; not, at least, when the self-published book actually sells a few copies.

Given this green light, my literary imagination has become as unruly as a lab in the back seat when the air smells of home. I hardly know how to choose among the many fantastic ideas that seethe in my brain. I only know that the title will absolutely have to be Interminable, Part X.

§ Compline. One paragraph from Joshua Wolf Shenk’s brilliant Atlantic piece about the Harvard happiness study leaps out for special treatment by the memory banks:

Vaillant explains defenses as the mental equivalent of a basic biological process. When we cut ourselves, for example, our blood clots—a swift and involuntary response that maintains homeostasis. Similarly, when we encounter a challenge large or small—a mother’s death or a broken shoelace—our defenses float us through the emotional swamp. And just as clotting can save us from bleeding to death—or plug a coronary artery and lead to a heart attack—defenses can spell our redemption or ruin. Vaillant’s taxonomy ranks defenses from worst to best, in four categories.

If we could learn, really learn, how true this observation is, we would worry a great deal less about the bad things that can happen. When we worry in a generally safe and positive environment, the defenses that we call upon when trouble strikes are inactive, and what we wind up imagining is our own helplessness. This is the meaning of the proverb against “borrowing trouble.”

Comments are closed.