Daily Office:


Matins: Amazing: Significant legal reform from Albany. The new Power of Attorney, with 50% less bluffing! (via Estate of Denial)

Lauds: “Theatre Royal Bath to be Revamped.” Accent on Theatre, kiddoes.

Prime: Memo to Twentysomethings: Just as the ultimate human destination is a long, narrow box, the ultimate gamer’s destination seems to be a body that’s overweight, depressed, and thirty-five.

Tierce: Stalking your ex-girlfriend? There’s an app for that. (You may require hilariotomy after.)

Sext: Choire Sicha deconstructs — no, “annotates” — Saki Knafo’s Times Magazine piece about the epic struggle behind the making of Where the Wild Things Are. If Spike Jonze thought that he was beleaguered before…!

Nones: On facing pages of yesterday’s Times, stories about divisions in Honduras (which we knew about) and Jerusalem (which we’d forgotten about). Some people just don’t want to get along!

Vespers: Jane Kramer on Montaigne: if it’s an easy read, you’re no Montaigne fan. (If you’re no New Yorker subscriber, the link may not work. So continue below.)

Compline: The suburban dreams of Ross Racine are just what we want to think about this weekend. (via The Infrastructurist)

Bon weekend à tous!


§ Matins. The theory of the Power of Attorney has hitherto been that A allows B to act on A’s behalf as if B were A. This made a lot of sense during the Crusades, when a man of substance might disappear for a few years at a time, leaving his affairs to a trusted, able-bodied confidant. But it makes no sense whatever in the common modern context.

The statutory changes going into effect today are long overdue, and substantially remedy potential financial exploitation and abuse of the principal (the person granting the power of attorney) by the agent (the person getting power of attorney). The changes in the statute include:

  • If the principal wants the agent to have the authority to make gifts, additional requirements must be met, including execution and witnessing of a “major gifts rider.”
  • Agents will now be subject to a “prudent person standard of care,” with defined responsibilities. This requires keeping records (with receipts) of the agent’s transactions.
  • There is an optional provision authorizing the principal to appoint a “monitor” to request and receive records of transactions by the agent.
  • The monitor, a government official and the guardian of the principal and other designated entities, may require the agent to provide the record of transactions and a copy of the power attorney on 15 days’ notice.
  • A special court proceeding is now available for a number of purposes, including compelling the agent to provide the record and power of attorney; determining whether the power of attorney is valid; determining whether the power of attorney was procured through duress, fraud or undue influence; and even removing the agent upon the grounds that the agent who has violated, or is unfit, unable or unwilling to perform his or her fiduciary duties.

Most of these changes apply only to powers of attorney created on or after today. However, the provisions regarding fiduciary responsibilities apply to all powers of attorney.

§ Lauds. The theatre dates to 1805, but, like any building anywhere, it needs a refurbishment at least every 25 years — and hasn’t had one in thirty.

In 2008, the theatre commissioned a feasibility study by architects, mechanical and electrical engineers and theatre consultants to assess the condition of the building and outline the extent of any necessary repairs.

The study revealed that elements of the external building fabric needed improvement, public areas were deemed to be crowded with poor disabled access and the auditorium’s plasterwork and gilding were described as “dirty, faded and damaged”.

The Theatre Royal Bath dates back to 1805 and is one of the few remaining theatres dating from the early 19th century that is still serving its original purpose.

We really ought to learn from the Japanese: at settled intervals, you simply rebuild. No need for feasability studies!

§ Prime. Robert Cringely riffs on some interested data for the Centers for Disease Control.

The film box office is slightly bigger than in 2008, thanks in large part to higher ticket prices, but most of the other sources of income are lower, some of them dramatically so.  DVD sales, for example, are down by 25 percent.  Is this the effect of Red Box $1 movie rentals or maybe video piracy?  Nope. The $60+ billion domestic entertainment industry we thought was based on teenage boys is in trouble because it was actually based on middle-age men pretending to be teenage boys.  And those middle-age men need to support themselves.

That’s what’s going on here: the guys stopped buying games so they could make their car payments, instead.  It took an unprecedented recession — the worst in 70 years — to coax-out this effect but it is clear that if things get bad enough even Hollywood hurts.

It’s all good, though: there will be a Flight to Quality.

§ Tierce. Mind you, it won’t be long until all of these features are available!

§ Sext. It’s as though a grown-up had walked into the room.

Finally, in September 2007, Jonze screened a cut for executives at Warner Brothers. Robinov had concerns. “We felt that the movie was too slow,” he told me. There was also “a question of intensity: Is it too intense for kids? Is the audience for the movie that we’re making broad enough?” A test screening was convened in Pasadena, and some reactions were later posted on a blog. One viewer wrote, “I don’t think it’s for young children.” Another claimed that some children in the audience began to cry and asked their parents to leave the theater.

They hated it so much they leaked the test screening results.

The back-and-forth between Jonze and the studio over the next few months, Robinov told me, was “a rough process.” He and Jonze had a series of “disagreements” about the movie’s “tone and pacing and clarity.”

They fought like cats and dogs. Presumably the producers spent most of this period sitting on Jonze’s head. And massaging the studio.

§ Nones. The ouster of former Honduras president Manuel Zelaya is a genuine toughie. On the one hand, it was wrong to throw him out — and that’s all there is to that. On the other hand, the man is pretty evidently a narcissistic moron.

But Mr. Zelaya said the coup undermined Hondurans’ faith in democracy and in the rule of law.

“Any elections without my presence would not end the crisis in my country,” he said. “They would only deepen the crisis.”

Mr. Zelaya said that in his State Department meetings on Thursday he would ask Mrs. Clinton to clarify several issues. He said he would ask why, two months after he was forced from power, the State Department had not formally determined that his ouster fit the legal definition of a military coup, which would require the United States to definitively cut aid currently considered “on pause.”

It really does seem to be all about — his hat. As for Jerusalem, members of the ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit have taken to spitting on policemen and denouncing them as “Zionist Gestapo,” which makes sense, if you’re crazy.

The Eda Haredit has also rallied around one of its members this summer, a mother who was arrested on suspicion of starving her 3-year-old son. Her supporters rioted in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods and set fire to a local welfare office where she had met with social workers before being detained.

Fierce riots broke out on Sunday night after the police entered a central ultra-Orthodox neighborhood to remove the body of a murder victim from a hostel. The riot seemed to have more to do with a general hatred of the police than the killing itself, which did not even involve a member of the ultra-Orthodox community. For the first time, the police used tear gas and stun grenades and fired in the air to disperse the crowds.

§ Vespers. Ms Kramer is really interested in one of Montaigne’s capstones (if that may be said): “On Vanity.” Her wind-up is blindingly good.

 Toward the end of his life, he claimed to have accepted emptiness. He had once called his essays “monstrous bodies, without definite shape, having no order, sequence, or proportion other than accidental,” and blamed the fact that “my ability does not go far enough for me to dare to undertake a rich, polished picture, formed according to art.” But there is every indication that, growing older, he missed the statesman’s life. When Navarre succeeded to the throne in 1589, becoming Henri IV of France — and, after four more years of religious war, making a shrewd conversion to Catholicism with the words “Paris is well worth a Mass” — Montaigne wrote to volunteer his services again. Henri replied, delighted, and in January of 1590, when his letter arrived, Montaigne wrote back, saying that he had always wished for the succession, even when I had to confess it to my curate,” and then offering the advice that “where conquests, because of their greatness and difficulty, could not be thoroughly completed by arms and by force, they have been completed clemency and magnanimity, excellent lures to attract men, especially toward the just and legitimate side.” the passage is vintage Montaigne” a prescription for wise rule lurking in a few fine, flattering phrases about the fruits of victory, a strategic detour into the real world to say that “if rigor and punishment occur, they must be put off until after the possession of mastery”; and, finally, an appropriate classical example — in this case, Scipio the Elder. In July, Henri summoned Montaigne to Paris, but by September, when he had hoped to go, Montaigne was too sick to travel.

§ Compline. We can’t tell you how crazy we are about a street plan that makes it impossible not to get lost.


Think how smart the kids would have to be, just to get to school!

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