Daily Office:


Matins: Sorry! We missed this amazing news on Friday: “Mexico Legalizes Drug Possession.”

Lauds: Christopher Hampton will adapt, Sam Mendes will direct, and Oprah Winfrey will produce a film version of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland.

Prime: Tyler Cowen asks if the bailouts were a good idea, and decides that they were.

Tierce: Thirteen year-old Laura Dekker wants to sail around the world, alone. Her parents don’t object, but the Nederlander government does. A tough call?

Sext: President Obama has lost all “creditability,” according to an anti-health-care-plan auto-faxer that somehow came to the attention of Choire Sicha. Sure, the wingnuts are scary. But, boy, can’t they write!

Nones: Why special Sharia courts in secular nations pose a threat to sovereignty: “Malaysia Postpones Whipping of Woman Who Drank Beer.”

Vespers: John Self behaves himself, and reads Bohumil Hrabal’s Closely Watched Trains. (He had owned a copy for a while.)

Compline: The awful truth about asexuality: it’s not awful! (via  Joe.My.God)


§ Matins. We feel rather like Moses, only more optimistic: maybe we’ll live to see the end of Prohibition after all.

Mexican authorities said the change only recognized the longstanding practice here of not prosecuting people caught with small amounts of drugs.

The maximum amount of marijuana considered to be for “personal use” under the new law is 5 grams — the equivalent of about four marijuana cigarettes. Other limits are half a gram of cocaine, 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams of LSD.

President Felipe Calderón waited months before approving the law.

What on earth would our racists cops and prosecutors do about their “longstanding practice”?

§ Lauds. How interesting that Ms Winfrey bought the rights!

Mr Hampton said he had been nervous about trying to adapt Netherland, which he described as “a most seductively… and beautifully written book”, but eventually had been persuaded by Mendes’ persistence.

“I quail at the idea of adapting it. This is a very difficult project, I know that,” he told The Observer.

“When Sam first asked me, I said it was too difficult and that I could not do it. But Sam was very persistent and quite eloquent too. I did think eventually: ‘Ah yes, I can see a way.'”

Mr Hampton said Mendes felt he had to turn the book into a film.

“He told me there really isn’t anybody else who could make this film, since he is both a film director and an expat cricket-lover living in New York,” he said.

We hope that the cricket thing isn’t overdone. Netherland is no more about cricket than Pride and Prejudice is about property law.

§ Prime. Now that the first anniversary is on the horizon, the fact that the bailouts might have been planned better (Megan McArdle feels that Washington “demanded too little from the large banks in return for its support“) looka less and less like an objection to what was actually done. (The sense that you can always do better is not a good reason for doing nothing at all.)

Maybe you think that the bailouts will have disastrous long-run consequences.  And maybe they will, I worry about this too.  But if anyone should know that modern politics can only stand so much short-run panic, it is libertarians and fans of Bryan Caplan’s book.  If we had not done the bailouts we did, we would, within a few months’ or weeks’ time have received a much worse and costlier bailout run by Congress and Nancy Pelosi.  How does that sound? [link supplied]

It seems strange to us that anyone is asking the question; we didn’t ask it even before hand. It’s very simple: for an economy to lose confidence is exactly like a human body losing blood. And “confidence” is nothing but the fact of free-flowing cash.

§ Tierce. Decision in the matter has been postponed to the end of the week.

The current record is held by American Zac Sunderland, who completed the 45,000km (28,000-mile) voyage at the age of 17, after 13 months at sea.

Miss Dekker, who was reportedly born on a yacht off the coast of New Zealand during a seven-year world trip, plans to break that record.

It’s a tough call because teenagers are already allowed to waste their time in so many crazy ways (parkour, for instance) that it seems fussy to object to a project that is certain to produce one very mature young lady. The he-man seaman-school teacher certainly gets it wrong:

“When she’s got a broken mast on heavy seas, can a girl make herself safe again? I can’t see it happening,” Bernt Folmer, director of the Enkhuizen School of Seamanship, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Even if we think such things, we don’t say them.

§ Sext. You might as well take your laughs where you can get them.

I won’t stop there; the government which ran Social Security, Welfare and dozen of other entitlement programs into bankruptcy, wants to take care of your grandma’s health. Mind-boggling!

Trouble is, a government who seized several fortunate 500 companies firing their chief executives and then sold their shareholders assets to the Red Chinese is telling you they care for your family’s wellbeing. Dreadful!

Now, Obama wants to run your body? HELL NO! His administration has lost ALL creditability!

Listen up, Washington couldn’t even ship a single bottled of water, stalling for over 9 days, to any Citizens dying of thirst in New Orleans! These same government buffoons who are beating their chests proclaiming their greatness, can’t even tell the American people where the billions and billions of bailout bucks has gone! Disgusting!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my country, the United States of America is ordained by God and We The People must elect God Fearing People or else we will be damned into failure!

“Damned into failure!” Forget hell-fire; what could be more Murican than hell-failure?

§ Nones. Special justice for certain citizens inevitably leads to a who’s-in-charge muddle.

But the scope of Islamic laws appears to have widened in Malaysia over the past few years. Muslims have been prevented from converting to other religions, officials have barred Muslims from working in restaurants or convenience stores that carry alcohol — although this policy has not been fully carried out — and religious authorities have questioned whether Muslims should be allowed to practice yoga. When laws are enforced, Malaysians often complain that the elite are exempted.

Whenever religious authorities disallow conversion, it’s clearly their anxiety speaking — not their faith.

§ Vespers. We’re feeling prodded ourselves.

The man describing all this to us is Miloš Hrma, a 22-year-old apprentice on the railway, whose happy-go-lucky surface (concerned mainly with losing his virginity), is betrayed by our knowledge that he has just returned to work after three months’ absence after he slit his wrists in the bath. “I plunged both hands into the hot water, and watched the blood flow slowly out of me, and the water grow rosy, and yet all the time the pattern of the red blood flowing remained so clearly perceptible, as though someone was drawing out from my wrists a long, feathery red bandage, a filmy, dancing veil…” Hrabal, in his seductive way, leaves much for the reader to determine, and keeps the comic tone intact.

Hrabal also maintains his reputation as (in Adam Thirlwell’s words) “a writer of hectic digression”, and in just over 80 pages, he introduces a wild variety of characters and subjects, from pigeon-fancying to branding a young woman’s thighs with official railway rubber stamps. At times, when the digressions pile up, it’s easy to see why Hrabal has been considered an untranslatable writer. But although Hrma does divert his narrative long enough to lose his virginity with some tenderness (”…then she was kind to me…”), the narrative builds in the end to a quite perfectly sober and devastating climax. This concerns Hrma’s involvement in a plan to attack a German ammunition train which is due to pass their station.

Not only haven’t we read this comic book about wartime disaster; we haven’t even seen the movie! Something to fix!

§ Compline. Solid research is beginning to back up some people’s claim that sex is not fun.

Dr. Lori Brotto, an expert on sexuality at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said she was once “extremely skeptical” that asexuality existed as an orientation. But in 2007, in surveys of AVEN members, she found not only low sexual desire but low distress about it.

“They’re not bothered by the low levels of arousal,” Brotto said. “That’s what makes them different from someone with sexual dysfunction, who wants to seek treatment.”

Recently, Brotto showed erotic films to seven asexuals along with 35 other women who identified themselves as straight, lesbian or bisexual, while measuring vaginal blood flow. She found no physiological differences in their responses.

“That’s kind of what we predicted,” she said. “This is not a sexual dysfunction. It’s a sexual orientation issue.”

A little perspective: from at least the time of Augustine of Hippo (who died in 430 CE) to the end of the Nineteenth Century, human sexuality was regarded as a lamentable imperfection. Bestial, in fact. Once the pendulum was allowed to swing, it had quite a way to go. But we’re just as mixed up. “Is it really so bad?” had inevitably given way to “Is it so great?” To both questions, the correct answer is, “Not for everybody.” It may even be, “Not for most.”

2 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Mark says:

    Can’t wait the film version of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland. Anyone heard of Cameron Johnson? A new business film ”The YES Movie ”interviewed him,(”The YES Movie” please check details at http://www.TheYESmovie.com.)
    He is one of the most successful young entrepreneur in the world, Oprah interviewed him before, very interesting story.

  2. Nom de Plume says:

    I look forward to your photos every day! OH, the writing’s not bad either .