Daily Office:


Matins: Impressed by Apple’s emailed receipts — no paper! — Chadwick Matlin looks into the costs of “retrofitting” other retailers, and finds that they’re not inconsiderable. “So I begrudgingly and all-too-appropriately wave my white flag. You win, receipts.” (via Good)

Lauds: Micahel Kimmelman writes about Tatort (Crime Scene), the German detective show that has been running since 1970 — with different versions for different cities!

Prime: It’s when you succeed that running a business becomes truly tough. Jeffrey Pfeffer has one little word: Focus!

Tierce: Tweeting, the old-fashioned way: Robert Keith posts commercially-printed “ads” in the window of his Brooklyn bed-and-breakfast: “Credit Default Swaps Should Be Prosecuted — Not Paid.”

Sext: Well, what do you know! New York Governor David Paterson has hired The Awl’s Alex Balk to do a bit of “clarifying” speechwriting!

Nones: Yesterday: Muammar el-Qaddafi at home. Tomorrow: New Jersey.

Vespers: Beyond Orhan Pamuk (although not entirely): Selçuk Altun’s top-ten Turkish books. All are available in English translation (at least at Amazuk).

Compline: Whether concerned about predatory old partiers or determined to wring more moolah from its base, MoMA defines “Junior” as “<40.”

Bon weekend à tous!


§ Matins. But we’re not so sure.

That’s going to have to change in our paperless Xanadu. Software will have to be tweaked so that after the box contacts the credit company to confirm your card’s legitimacy, it then turns around and sends a scan of the receipt. A relatively easy change for the coders, according to an industry executive I talked to, but an expensive one for the stores. The owner of a company that implements these kinds of things told me replacing software could run $60,000 to $100,000 for a large chain—in each store. Making your entire network of stores receiptless a la Apple would be a major financial investment—and one without much payback. The only thing that would justify it would be savings on materials—negligible at 46 bucks for 50 rolls of receipt paper—and the PR benefit. Not exactly a haul. So this may be something that only new businesses attempt. It’s cheaper to start fresh than retrofit or replace.

Is a scan really necessary? How difficult would it be to encrypt all the pertinent information in a bar code? And, for the matter of that, why not cut back on the size of receipts by printing however many (small) bar codes it takes, with perhaps the date and the retailer’s name spelled out? Most people toss receipts; crazy folks like us could use home readers to scan information right into Quicken.

§ Lauds. What is a show the features grumpy, sometimes reckless policemen trying to tell us? 

Over the course of more than 700 episodes “Tatort” has featured 70 detectives. There are common threads: They’re never Sherlock Holmes. They’re almost invariably glum, gloomy characters, mired in bad relationships or alone — in the end, ordinary people, which is how a country, democratic to a fault, tends to like its stars. In that respect too “Tatort” is notably German.

Or as Ms. Wintgen put it: “Its detectives stand for the dreams of the people. The plain-looking guy or the middle-aged blonde who in the end solves all of life’s problems and finds the murderer.

“That’s our kind of hero.”

§ Prime. We don’t have much in the way of models for businesses that get good at something and then just keep doing it, adapting services and practices only as needed.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The key is to understand the basis of your success, whatever that happens to be, and retain a laserlike focus. Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, has not let the airline’s success change its emphasis on cost-cutting, even at the expense of customer service. Ryanair’s value proposition is cheap fares – and if you want something else, fly another carrier. Southwest Airlines has resisted the temptation to fly planes other than Boeing 737’s and to expand internationally. I understand how important great colleagues have been to my work over the years, so I try to be as generous with credit as possible, work on maintaining these important relationships, and to always be on the lookout for those who can complement my skills.

§ Tierce. Eric Bishop’s story is a bit coy on the subject, but it seems that Mr Keith spent most of his working life in the reinsurance business, which means that he probably knows what he’s talking about when he denounces CDSs.

As the news has changed, so have his signs. During Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, for example, he was angered when he thought her questioners tended to put the law on a pedestal, as if it were sacrosanct and not a human creation. So he put up a sign that read: “Let’s put another sacred cow out to pasture: Rule of Law. The Law is: Legislated by Man, Enforced by Man, Adjudicated by Man.”

Hear, hear!

“It’s kind of my way of tweeting,” Mr. Keith said. “I don’t even know how to do tweeting.”

§ Sext. We hope that the governor will be pleased, because now everything is clear.

Finally, I do want to say that the recent incident where I was called out for being at a club after midnight with my underage daughter was, in fact, playing on terrible racial stereotypes. Also, it was dead wrong! My daughter is twenty-one, and we left the club at 11:59 PM exactly. I remember looking at my watch and thinking, “Gee, Dave, you should go home and rest up right now. You’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow, and it’s going to be even harder than it would be if you were a white man, because everyone is so racist.” Anyway, this personal incident is being used to reinforce negative images of African-Americans who are always “out at the clubs.” Ridiculous? Would anyone have kicked up a fuss if Eliot Spitzer were out at a club late at night? Of course not. Although that may have something to do with the fact that Eliot did his partying in private. With hookers. In expensive hotels. (Not like the cheap ones where I had all of those affairs.) But would we take from that that all Jews are hooker-loving hotel fiends who wear their socks while they are trying to get the tricks to do anal without a condom? I don’t think so! (But let’s be honest, it is kind of true.)

If you think that it takes a constitutional convention to keep the David Patersons out of high office, we’ve got a letter here for Virginia.

§ Nones. The Lybian Embassy to the United Nations owns a pile in Englewood (just across the George Washington Bridge).

Col Gaddafi is expected to set up his Bedouin-style tent on Libyan Embassy-owned land in the town of Englewood as he attends the UN General Assembly.

The town mayor, state governor and legislators said he was not welcome.

They were angered by the “hero’s welcome” home given to Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi last week.

A number of the 270 people killed when a Pan Am jet exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 were from New Jersey.

“I want him barred from New Jersey,” New Jersey Congressman John Adler said of Col Gaddafi on Wednesday.

We have a good friend whose cousin was the UN Ambassador from a natio non grata back in the Eighties. Movement outside of New York City had to be reported to the State Department, but our friend doesn’t recall any trips actually being forbidden.

On the other hand, good old Rudy Giuliani had Yasser Arafat thrown out of the Metropolitan Opera in 1995.

§ Vespers. One of the entries, Yaşar Kemal’s Memed, My Hawk, is available in a handsome NYRB reprint. In case you’re wondering why you ought to care about Turkish literature, read the following until it gives you goosebumps.

Between 1970 and 1990, my main preoccupation after writing was buying books for my library; I wanted it to include all books that I viewed as important or useful. My father gave me a substantial allowance. From the age of eighteen I was in the habit of going once a week to Sahaflar, the old booksellers’ market in Beyazıt, the center of the Old City. I spent many hours and days in its little shops, which were heated by ineffective little electric heaters, and crowded with towers of unclassified books, and everyone looked poor—from the shop assistant to the owner, the casual visitor to the bona fide customer.

I would go into a shop selling secondhand books, comb all the shelves, leaf through the books, and one by one I would pick a history of the relations between Sweden and the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth century; or the memoir of the head physician of the Bakirköy Hospital for the Insane; or a journalist’s eyewitness account of a failed coup; or a monograph on the Ottoman monuments of Macedonia; or a Turkish précis of the writings of a German traveler who came to Istanbul in the seventeenth century; or the reflections of a professor from the Çapa Medical Faculty on manic-depressive disorder and predisposition to schizophrenia; or a small collection of poems by a forgotten Ottoman poet in an annotated edition in the Turkish of our time; or an illustrated book of propaganda, published by the Office of the Governor of Istanbul in the 1940s, and showing all the buildings and parks in black and white.

After bargaining with the shop assistant, I would cart them all away. In the beginning, I collected all the classics of world and Turkish literature—it would be more accurate to describe these as books that were “important” for Turkish literature. I thought I would certainly read other books too, just as I’d done with the classics. But when my mother, who was worried about me, because she thought I read too much, saw me bringing in more books than even I could read, she would say wearily, “For once don’t go buying more books until you’ve finished these!”

That’s Orhan Pamuk, of course, writing in The New York Review of Books a few years ago. Isn’t it something! Even in Istanbul, concerned parents speak the language of too-many-books (too-little-sense).

§ Compline. They’re actually going to ask for photo-IDs!

he Museum of Modern Art’s Junior Associates — who pay $750 in annual dues to attend private parties, receptions and exhibition openings — are cutting off the over-40 crowd this fall. Though originally created for 20- and 30-something professionals, 40-somethings and even a few 50-somethings have apparently been mingling with the young folk, say members. Not anymore.

A recent e-mail sent to current Junior Associates announced the change and cautioned that “photo identification will be required moving forward at some events.”

Many big cultural institutions have patron groups for younger adults, meant to connect local socialites and upwardly mobile art lovers — potential future donors — with the museum. MoMA’s Junior Associates hold events several times a week including artist studio visits guided by curators, and “MoMA Monday Nights,” with a live DJ and open art galleries.

It couldn’t happen at a better institution. MoMA’s very mission has exceeded its sell-date by at least twenty years. “Modern”? Qu’est-ce que c’est que ce “Modern”?

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