Archive for the ‘Faits Divers’ Category

Daily Office:

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009


Matins: At last! Jason Epstein’s dream of books-on-demand will be getting a serious try-out, using the Espresso Book Machine (made by a company that Mr Epstein founded), in Manchester Center, Vermont. You must watch the video! (via Arts Journal)

Lauds: Architect Michael Sorkin appraises Manhattan as a pedestrian town, and tries to think of buildings to suit.

Prime: More about Chris Anderson’s Free: from Mr Anderson himself, at The Long Tail; and, in not so loyal opposition, from Choire Sicha, at The Awl and from Brian, at Survival of the Book. A new digital divide?

Tierce: A star is born: Lisa Maria Falcone, formerly a person with money (and, more formerly, a person with no money), seeks a place in Gotham’s philanthropic firmament. A Cinderella story — adjusted for real time.

Sext: We don’t know whether to laugh or to shudder at this Sixty Minutes segment about fMRI mind-reading.

Nones: In futures trading on Iraqi stability, China gains access and standing in the petroleum business — aided by the American Senate.

Vespers: Watch that Tweet! In case you don’t “follow” Alice Hoffman — provoked, over the weekend. by an unfavorable review of her new novel, The Story Sisters, into an authorial “meltdown” — you can real all about it at Salon. (via Arts Journal)

Compline: The always thoughtful Richard Crary considers Michael Jackson, at The Existence Machine.

So I find myself listening to songs I’ve known forever for really the first time, in my own time, paying attention to stuff I’ve taken for granted. And the main thing I’m struck by is the evident rage and pain in Michael’s vocals.


Daily Office:

Thursday, June 25th, 2009


 ¶ Matins: At Brainiac, Christopher Shea asks about a “blue collar renaissance.” He has been reading Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, of course. Somewhat more solid evidence that the scope of “knowledge worker” is expanding appears in Louis Uchitelle’s Times story, “Despite Recession, High Demand for Skilled Labor.”

Lauds: At The House Next Door, Shelby Button reports on the deadCENTER Film Festival, in Oklahoma City.

Prime: Robb Mandelbaum traces a small-business-friendly amendment to the Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights Act — and speculates on its demise.

Tierce: When mom forgot his 73rd birthday, Tony Marshall was quick to call the doctor and complain about her growing “confusion.”

Sext: At Inside Higher Ed, Ben Elson reports on the number one problem affecting Americans today: student parking. (via The Awl)

Nones: What? There are Somalian Members of Parliament? Still? Fewer and fewer, perhaps — but that there are any is surprising.

Vespers: Rebecca Steinitz, at The Rumpus, writes so alluringly about Julia Strachey’s Cheerful Weather for a Wedding (1932) that I’ve just ordered a copy.

Compline: In The New Yorker, Jill Lepore draws a distinction between parenthood and adulthood. An important distinction — don’t you think?

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009


Matins: Whether or not last week’s election was rigged, the behavior of the Iranian government since the results were disputed has completely discredited it. The Amahdinejad regime’s aggressive clampdown on dissent show no concern whatever for the stability that, in China, in contrast, isalways Topic A. How do we know? Because the Internet tells us so.

Lauds: The face of Penelope Tree seems to be everywhere — at An Aesthete’s Lament, at the Costume Institute’s Model as Muse show — and she’s even mentioned in Brooks Peters’ latest post (see Vespers).

Prime:  Bill Vlasic’s story about Ford family solidarity, in today’s Times, makes us hope that investment portfolios have been diversified over the years. The value of the family’s stock in the company has dropped from $2.2 billion a decade ago to $140 million. At first, the drop seems catastrophic. Then we recollect that $140 million is better than $0.

Tierce: “The man who likes hiding in my home“: Brooke Astor’s description of her son, the defendant, to her Portuguese chauffeur. How gaga is that?

Sext: Ira Lee Sorkin (who used to be a partner of Kathleen’s), has written the most astonishingly chutzpah-tatious letter to Judge Denny Chin, appealing for leniency in the sentencing of his client, Bernard Madoff. That’s the sort of amazing stuff that you pay lawyers to do — and you can see why they’re expensive.

Nones: It will be interesting, to say the least, to heed the impact of French President Sarkozy’s burka ban.

Vespers: Brooks Peters writes about the bookstore that he was inspired to open by Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Bookshop — a novel that, I rather thought, has “do not open a bookshop” written between every line. Happily, Mr Peters’s account is unlikely to mislead any bibliophiles looking to make money doing something that they love.

Compline: Joseph Clarke “Infrastructure for Souls,” at triplecanopy, considers the strong similarities between the megachurch and the office space as they evolved in the later Twentieth Century. (via The Morning News) (more…)

Daily Office:

Monday, June 15th, 2009


Matins: In the current issue of The Econimist, Lexington outlines some embarrassing figures about the hours that American children don’t put in at school.

Lauds: Jazz since 1959 — the year of Kind of Blue, Giant Steps, and Time Out — recordings that I hope you have in your collection, whether you’re an aficionado or not! (via Arts Journal)

Prime: A story about the rivalry between Comptroller of the Currency John C Dugan and FDIC chair Sheila Bair illustrates the biggest problem in regulation: updating/upgrading it in the middle of a turf war. (How medieval is “comptroller”?)

Tierce: When I saw the headline of this story about Ruth Madoff, “The Loneliest Woman in New York,” I asked myself how she gets her hair colored these days. Not where she used to!

Sext: Will the Fiat-ization of Chrysler deflate the American male’s libido? Gary Kamiya’s tongue-in-cheek reports ends with a truly dandy suggestion.

Nones: How the United States ought to respond to the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: stay the course already set by President Obama.

Vespers: Michael Dirda writes about Patricia Highsmith in The New York Review of Books: “This Woman Is Dangerous.”

Compline: Barbara Ehrenreich writes about the plight of the genuinely poor in this country, and finds that, just as it is in most places, decent (and legitimate) shelter is the big problem.


Daily Office:

Thursday, June 11th, 2009


Matins: Zachary Wolfe believes (or, at least, hopes) that the future does not look good for a third Bloomberg term. But perhaps Mr Wolfe was writing before the ruckus broke out in Albany.

Lauds: Errol Morris’s remarkable series, Bamboozling Ourselves, looks into art forgeries and other deceptions — although “looks” is putting it mildly.(Master link list here.)

Prime: John Lanchester’s lengthy but extremely entertaining  essay on the banking bailout, “It’s Finished,” has been generating lots of buzz, at least at sites that I visit. Someone wrote somewhere that it ends “unhappily,” but I don’t agree.

Tierce: Toward the end of John Eligon’s account of Astor butler Christopher Ely’s testimony, my heart went into a clutch. The most horrific thing about this trial so far is the damage that it has been done to the reputation of attorney Henry Christensen.

Sext: It’s possible that Matt Blind has been in the bookstore biz too long. He wants to fire all the customers. Find out where you fit in his taxonomy (via

Nones: Michael Sheen meets the Queen. The real one.

Vespers: At The Morning News, Man in  Boston Robert Birnbaum rounds up some good books about Cuba. Sadly, he omits Tomorrow They Will Kiss.

Compline: The Obamas and the Arts: a new model for the United States.

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009


Matins: From The Infrastructurist, a list of 36 ways in which streetcars trump buses. Despite some internal ambiguities — streetcars are both cool (#6) and nostalgic (#12) — and a bit of padding (#20), the list will make you wish that we were already there.

Lauds: FROG schools may be as unlikely as fairy-tale princes, but these pre-fab classrooms do look good. Especially considering the nightmarish alternative…

Prime: David Carr goes to two very different media parties, and his report makes me think of the last chapters of Proust, but run backwards.

Tierce: Collateral damage from the Marshall trial: trusts and estates lawyer Henry Christensen’s nomination for membership at the Century Association has been tabled, pending the conclusion of the trial.

Sext: Forget three meals a day. Americans consume a fourth: all day snacking. In other news, Choire Sicha sees Hangover, reviews audience.

Nones: A cheering story at the Guardian, appended to an item noting that global arms spending has reached $1.47 trillian: “America a weapons supermarket for terrorists, inquiry finds.”

Vespers: Alain de botton asks a good question: why don’t more writers write about work? Considering, you know, the importance of jobs and stuff. (via The Rumpus)

Compline: At the Chronicle of Higher Education — the right place to begin asking — Joseph Marr Cronin and Howard E Horton wonder if undergraduate degrees are the new bubble. (via Arts Journal)


Daily Office:

Thursday, June 4th, 2009


Matins: Read the terrorist prototype composite storyline and then give us a call if it describes anybody you know. (via The Morning News)

Lauds: While I agree with Anne Midgette and Jackie Fuchs about the Teen Spirit of grand opera, I’m afraid that they’re overlooking one important detail about teen life. 

Prime: James Surowiecki takes a look at the Argentinian coin shortage (who knew?) and makes a connection with financial problems in the United States: it’s what puts the “con” in “economy.” 

Tierce: Tony Marshall’s defense strategy continues to bewilder me. Unless, that is, a case is being built (without the defendant’s knowledge, to be sure) to cut Charlene loose.

Sext: I couldn’t make up my mind about this story, until I mooted it by saying: Improv Everywhere got the right couple.

Nones: In a very sensible first step toward restoring sanity after the Cold War (yes! it’s really over!), the Organization of American States voted today to re-admit Cuba.

Vespers: For maximum effect, you must read Elizabeth Benedict’s review of Christopher Buckley’s Losing Mom and Pup all the way to the end:  The Not So Discreet Charm of the Haute Goyim.

Compline: Although I have no idea of the provenance of this YouTube clip of retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong (incontournable!), I can vouch that it is indeed the bishop. Although this saint of liberal Christendom never mentions Augustine’s name, he drives stakes through core Augustinian inventions.

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009


Matins: Robert B Reich: manufacturing is a thing of the past. Everywhere. “Blame new knowledge.”

Lauds: Joanne McNeil writes about seeing movies alone — and her fondness for watching a video first thing on a weekend morning — slightly before the first thing, actually (5 AM!)

Prime: Chris Lehmann explains why the bankruptcy of General Motors is almost as great for wingnut pundits as the UAW’s 17.5% stake.

Tierce: “Well, do you want ALL of my money?” snapped an exasperated Brooke Astor,

[a]fter years of pressure from son Anthony Marshall for more, more – and even more – of her millions

Sext: “World’s Most Pointless Machine.” (No, it’s not a motorcycle.) I want one! (via reddit)

Nones: The answer to the question: Gordon Brown is an Aspie. And Barack Obama is not. “The Prince of Wales is to attend the 65th anniversary celebrations of D-Day after the intervention of President Barack Obama, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.”

Vespers: At the new-ish WSJ blog, Speakeasy, Lee Siegel writes cogently about film criticism — about criticism in general.

Compline: Much as I love the infographics at GOOD, I’m not sure that “Conglomerate for Good” is one. I’d call it a very pretty list.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009


Matins: At Infrastructurist, a top-ten count-down of the nation’s road-building contractors. These organizations can be counted upon to thwart rail initiatives — unless, that is, their crystal balls advise them to make tracks.

Lauds: Yesterday, we noted Holland Cotter’s demand for history lessons. Today, Philip Kennicott complains about the fall-off in shock. What’s a museum to do?

Prime: Now that the TimeWarner/AOL breakup is official, we challenge anyone to find a sound reason for the merger nine years ago.

Tierce: In his fourth day of testimony, Henry Christensen tells us just why Tony was after his mother’s money.

Sext: Tom Scocca is rapidly becoming my favorite curmudgeon. Like curmudgeons everywhere, he has a special gimlet stare for the idea of “progress.”

Nones: Having been a less-than-fastidious reader of The Economist of late, I missed the début of Banyan, the newspaper’s Asian columnist. (There, I’m honest.) This week’s piece about the (improbable?) survival of the Communist Party in China is excellent.

Vespers: Jason Kottke lifts a very appealing idea from the introduction to The Black Swan: the concept of the “antilibrary,” made up of the books that one owns but hasn’t read.

Compline: When will finance (and its ancillaries) be reformed by women who insist — as they’ve done in the field of obstetrics — on livable hours?


Daily Office:

Monday, June 1st, 2009


Matins: Read it and weep: the Pakistani government (and military) is not as committed as you might like it to be to getting rid of Taliban invaders.

Lauds: Holland Cotter faults The Pictures Generation, a new show at the Museum, as bad history. All right, iffy history. But since when were museums in the business of history lectures?

Prime: Julie Cresswell’s obituary for the Archway/Mother’s Cookie business ought to be read, at a minimum, by every still-solvent tycoon who’s thinking of establishing a chair at a “business school” (such as the one at Harvard).

Tierce: I myself think that Terry Christensen was just doing his job, but if he’s not disbarred after the Marshall trial, it will mean that nobody is paying attention.

Sext: Has the world really turned? Or is Jon Peters in fact the pipsqueak that this story suggests  he is?

Nones: Every time I read about the European Union, I think about this map — except that I didn’t even know it existed until just the other day.

Vespers: “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, They Ride Hogs Over It” — what is reviewer Dwight Garner trying to prove?

Compline: Manhattanhenge Primo. Secondo comes in July. Between now and then, the sun will set to the north of the island’s east-west grid.


Daily Office:

Thursday, May 28th, 2009


Matins: As the twentieth anniversary of “Tiananmen” approaches, it appears that most younger Chinese don’t have any idea that there’s an anniversary to mark. (via Brainiac)

Lauds: I’m pretty sure that I don’t really want to see Steven Soderbergh’s new film, The Girlfriend Experience, but I’m fascinated by the wildly divergent responses that it has elicited at The Rumpus, from Stephen Elliott (pro) and Andrew Altschul (con).

Prime: A story from last week that I missed: “A Vibrant US Train Industry Would Emply More People than Car Makers Do Now,” at Infrastructurist.

Tierce: The testimony of Henry Christensen, the Sullivan & Cromwell attorney who served as Brooke Astor’s trusts and estates lawyer from 1991 to 2003, may have its greatest impact upon his own career. 

Update: Imagine what it must be like to read the following bit of news about yourself: “Though Mr Christensen is not charged with a crime...”

Sext: Something fun from — “Down Under”? (Maybe that was the problem.) Balk balks.

Nones: Little Elise André has been put in the position of a human ping-pong ball, as her parents — Russian mother, French father — secure conflicting custody awards from their respective home courts.

Vespers: Dwight Garner gives Richard Wrangham’s Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human a very enthusiastic review; not the least of the book’s attractions is its brevity (207 pages!).

Compline: Here’s an item to add to the checklist: bring the guys (and gals) who actually build/make things into the Green conversation. (How can I see Greening Southie?)

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009


Matins: As a thoughtful Memorial Day present, tenants of a building at Third Avenue and 92nd Street were evacuated after an unexplained bomblet went off at Starbucks.

Lauds: Philip Mould describes his first moments alone with a Gainsborough that he bought at eBay for less than $200: when the white spirit didn’t work, he applied acetone, and the overpainting “dissolved like lard.” Don’t try this at home — but don’t miss reading it, either.

Prime: A short list of healthy banks, at The Economist. (Names below the jump.)

Tierce: While we wait for the Marshall trial to heat up, Ruth Padel provides a sleazotic aside: she tipped off the press about Derek Walcott’s Harvard problems, but she did nothing wrong. Sez she. Update: She resigns!

Sext: Hey, yesterday was a holiday; why not take it easy this afternoon as well. Wallow in Schadenfreude as the Telegraph telegraphs all those naughty British MP expenses.

Nones: Scientology, a hit with certain Hollywood movie stars (who get rather special treatment), is regarded rather more skeptically in Europe. In France, seven leading members of the organization are on trial for fraud.

Vespers: John Self reviews James Lasdun’s collection, It’s Beginning to Hurt, at Asylum.

Compline: At Olivia Judson’s Times blog, The Wild Side, Steven Strogatz explains why the United States does not contain two cities the size of New York. (via Infrastructurist(more…)

Daily Office:

Monday, May 25th, 2009


Matins: Frank Rich argues that the Obama Administration ought to take a firmer lead on same-sex marriage. I think it ought to do so as well. But it’s an ought that, like many liberal Southerners in the Fifties and Sixties, I find painfully premature.

Lauds: Have a look at Mnémoglyphes, to see the photographs that Jean Ruaud took here in Manhattan last week. 

Prime: The economics (or lack thereof) of the Susan Boyle Surprise.

Tierce: Actor Jefferson Mays sat at Charlene Marshall’s side in court last week. Why do I think that this was a bad idea?

Sext: Why does Mr Wrong (Joe McLeod) sound like Fafblog?

Nones: China’s support of the Burmese junta suggests that the Central Country has made a thorough study of American foreign policy.

Vespers: Join the Infinite Summer book club, and read David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. (via kottke)

Compline: Helen Epstein on America’s prisons: “Is There Hope?” Surprisingly, the answer is yes: the Resolve to Stop the Violence Project (RSVP).


Daily Office:

Thursday, May 21st, 2009


Matins: At a blog, new to me, called Reddit, readers were asked to identify “closely held beliefs that our own children and grandchildren will be appalled by.”  Then Phil Dhingra, at Philosophistry, composed a bulletted list of a dozen possibilities. Be sure to check it out.

Lauds: Sad stories: No JVC Jazz Festival this summer, and no more Henry Moore Reclining Figure — forever. The festival may or may not limp back into life under other auspices, but the Moore has been melted down.

Prime: David Segal’s report on the planning of Daniel Boulud’s latest restaurant, DBGB, on the Bowery near Houston Street (it hasn’t opened yet) has a lot of fascinating numbers. 

Tierce: Attorney Kenneth Warner’s attempt to discredit Philip Marshall strikes me as desperately diversionary, but you never know with juries.

Sext: This just in: “The 1985 Plymouth Duster Commercial Is Officially the Most ’80s Thing Ever.”

Nones: The Berlin Wall, poignantly remembered by Christoph Niemann — in strips of orange and black.

Vespers: The other day, I discovered An Open Book, the very agreeable (if less than frequently updated) blog of sometime book dealer Brooks Peters. (via Maud Newton)

Compline: At Outer Life, V X Sterne resurfaces to post an entry about an unhappy moment in his job history. (We’ve been through this before, young ‘uns.)

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009


Matins: GOOD announces the winner of its Livable Streets Contest. (All the contestants are here.)

Lauds: The sketch blog of Jillian Tamaki, the artist whose work graced the cover of this week’s Book Review. (via The Best Part)

Prime: Michael Lewis revisits Warren Buffett. (via The Awl)

Tierce: No poop on the poop: testimony about dog droppings on Brooke Astor’s dining room floor was ruled inadmissable yesterday. Justice Bartley: “It would seem to me the transient conditions of the apartment – I would include in that dog feces – would be a problem of the staff.”

Sext: This faux Wes Anderson trailer is an elegant little satire, more loving than harsh, of the filmmaker’s foibles.

Nones: The digital universe, like the “real” one, is expanding at speed. Continue reading for a delicious factoid.

Vespers: John Self writes about White Noise, a book that I’d always felt guilty about not reading until I finally gave it away unread.

Compline: Caleb Cage writes about the future of warfare (“RMA“) at The Rumpus.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009


Matins: In the current New Yorker, Steve Coll summarizes the Adminstration’s options in Pakistan. They don’t make for fun reading.

Lauds: Springtime for Hitler: The Producers opens in Berlin.

Prime: Christopher Hitchens on funny women. It’s not only not funny, but it conjures the image of a tar pit for humorists: the harder the writer thrashes about in his bad ideas, the thicker the laugh-prevention fixative becomes.

Tierce:  Wish I’d been there to hear about “this mistress business” myself: Vartan Gregorian testifies that Brooke Astor was already acting up when she was 97, speaking truth to Camilla P-B and dissing Catherine Z-J.

Sext: Why, according to Beth Teitell, newspapers must be saved — even if nobody reads them. (via The Morning News)

Nones: In what looks to be an embarrassing waste of time, Turkey’s “secular elites” have dreamed up an embezzling charge against President Abdullah Gul.

Vespers:Caleb Crain publishes a collection of blog entries, The Wreck of the Henry Clay: Posts & Essays 2003-2009. You can order the book or download the pdf.

Compline: Former Marine (and deputy Secretary of State) Steven Ganyard writes about emergency responsiveness and lays down its golden rule: “All Disasters Are Local


Daily Office:

Monday, May 18th, 2009


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.


Daily Office:

Thursday, May 14th, 2009


Matins: Here’s a story that stinks. Costco has been given permission to disturb East Harlem with tractor-trailers making wee-hour stock deliveries. But Costco won’t accept food stamps, which sustain thousands of neighboring households. Jim Dwyer reports.

Lauds: Move over, origami masters: Look what Simon Schubert can do  by creasing paper gently. (via Snarkmarket)

Prime: Criticism or curation? A misunderstanding between Tim Abrahams, of Blueprint (a print magazine with Web site) and Things Magazine (online only) yields a rich discussion, or at any rate a nice piece by Mr Abrahams and two just-as-nice responses by Things, with some good comments along the way.

Tierce: Joanna Molloy, at the Daily News, takes a breath and asks, “When did the Brooke Astor trial become all about Charlene Marshall?

Sext: Movies you won’t have to think about seeing this weekend, or any weekend. (Did I just jinx it?) Romatic comedy pitches involving gay vampires and crossbows, at McSweeney’s.

Nones: In 1975, Professor Karel Zlabek proposed linking Bohemia, via a tunnel, to the Adriatic. That’s over four hundred kilometers, maybe not so much in American terms (but), beneath the soil of two other sovereignties, one of which, Austria, was not a member of the Warsaw Pact.

Vespers: What, we ask ourself, is the Derek Walcott kerfuffle really about? An inappropriate sexual advance? Or even more inappropriate revenge when the advance was rebuffed?

Compline: Not to be confused with the foregoing: Vanity Fair gentleman curmudgeon James Wolcott looks back fondly on Manhattan in the Seventies.

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009


Matins: A word from venture capitalist Peter Rip:

Corporate America, its public boards, and now, the United States government would be well served to take a few pages on governance from America’s venture capital-backed companies.

Lauds: Queen Nefertiti’s bust a fake? What fun! I love fakes! (via Arts Journal)

Prime: Now I know what to get for my grandchildren (when & if): littleBits. “PLUS magnets are FUN.” (via

Tierce: More excluded testimony at the Marshall Trial yesterday — and everybody but the jury heard proposed testimony by the late Mrs Astor’s social secretary. The Post, the Daily News.

Sext: Last night, I asked about the “backlash” to Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker piece about the full-court press. Voilà! Tom Scocca buttonholes Choire Sicha at The Awl. (via Brainiac)

Nones: Mark Landler reads the tea-leaves of Iran’s release of Roxana Saberi (who by the way is gawjus!): Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reverses course to improve his re-election bid.

Vespers: Rebecca Dalzell bids adieu to the Times’s City section, soon to be cut from the Sunday paper.

Compline: Built on a former French military base (hence its having been named after Louis XIV’s fortress engineer), the Freiburg suburb of Vauban could not have accommodated civilian auto traffic anyway. You are allowed to own a car if you live in the upscale development, but you can’t park it at your house.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009


Matins: In one of those hard cases that the vagaries of editorial wording can decide, an Army contractor, who in what I should certainly call the heat of passion “revenge-killed” a prisoner, was finally sentenced. The prisoner had doused the contrator’s partner, a woman, in flammable liquid and set her on fire. (She later died of burns.) Read the judgment below. (via The Morning News)

Lauds: Nicolai Ouroussoff decries the latest design for a transportation hub at the World Center site as a “monument to the creative ego that celebrates [Santiago] Calatrava’s engineering prowess but little else.” 

Prime: Act today? “The 99 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music” are on sale, as a set of MP3 downloads, for $7.99. I’m not sure that I can recommend starting a classical library this way. (via

Tierce: For the first time in my life, I bought the New York Post yesterday. How could I not, given this screaming headline: “DISS ASTOR.” Never mind that what it refers to doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. What, though, can Charlene Marshall have been thinking, when she allowed a Post reporter into her apartment?

Sext: Ian Frazier, longtime New Yorker humorist, must have started out in his playpen, seeing that he’s celebrating his fortieth birthday.

Nones: Page A11 of yesterday’s Times was entirely taken up by a call to journalists to recognize the body of water that you probably know as the “Sea of Japan” as the “East Sea.”

Vespers: Joseph O’Neill’s three boys didn’t understand why they couldn’t drop in on President Obama during a recent trip to Washington. Did they know that he was reading daddy’s book? Vintage Books certainly did. (via  Arts Journal)

Compline: In the current issue of NYRB, Sue Halpern goes after a couple of the anecdotes upon which Malcolm Gladwell argues his case in Outliers.