Archive for the ‘Corporations’ Category

Daily Office:

Monday, April 20th, 2009


Matins: In case you’re still opposed to Federal nationalization of troubled banks, let former IMF economist Simon Johnson explain the advice that his outfit would give.

Lauds: It dates from March, but I just heard about it at Things Magazine: truly punchy graphic art commissioned by Swiss pharma giant Geigy (now part of Novartis).

Prime: Jean Ruaud has retooled Mnémoglyphes which has to be the most news-deprived statement that I can think of. Jean changes the look and feel of his sites all the time! This is more substantive, though: Mnémoglyphes has become a Daily Blogue.

Tierce: David Carr considers the confected nature of last week’s “tea party” tax protests, which were not so much covered by the cable news networks as cultivated by them.

Sext: Would you help out a robot? If you live in Greenwich Village, you might not give it a second thought: Of course you would help out a robot! (via  The Morning News)

Nones: The Italian government has finally recognized its humanitarian responsibility and begun deboarding 140 migrants from a stranded tanker. To understand the kerfuffle with Malta, though, you may need to look at a map.

Vespers: In the current Harper’s, Francine Prose reviews an odd but irresistible new book with a faux-catalogue title as long as your arm: the account of a fictional breakup as told in terms of pictures at an exhibition — pictures of lamps, postcards, and pictures.

Compline: The post office as a profit center? What a concept! It works in Switzerland…


Daily Office:

Monday, March 30th, 2009


Matins: Apprehensive about the future of newspapers? Hugging those quaint little object called “books”? Here’s a story to round out your apoplexy profile: “Stop Teaching Handwriting,” by Anne Trubeck.

Lauds: First the good news; then the bad news. It’s the same story, really: Isabel Kershner’s report on a concert given by Palestinian youths for Holocaust survivors gets updated by Khaled Abu Aker, to take account of the fallout.

Prime: If you are not in the mood for it to be Monday, Jonathan Soma’s interactive Singles in America map will make your day. Be sure to play with the slider at the top of the screen, and don’t overlook the cocktail party “feed” down below. (via  Things Magazine)

Tierce: It’s not much of a story, really; and its topic — ostensibly the soon-to-end GM career of Rick Wagoner — is, when you get down to it, inertia. Because only inertia could explain “The Steadfast Optimist Who Oversaw GM’s Long Decline.” You have to wonder where anybody got the idea that corporate America is “dynamic.”

Sext: Far and away my favorite New York City bridge, the Queensboro turns 100.

Nones: If the Obama Administration is really unhappy about the Spanish prosecution of the Bush Torture Team (Gonzales, Addington, Feith &c), it can pre-empt the proceedings by seeking indictments here in the United States.

Vespers: If you’re a mystery buff, you may well know about Sarah Weinman’s blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind: Crime fiction, and more. It looks to be a depot for all sorts of information about the more serious side of murder ink. (via The Morning News)

Compline: From the Matter of Time Dept: “Hard-Pressed Colleges Accept More Applicants Who Can Pay Full Cost.” Depressing, but no surprise.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009


Matins: Matt Taibbi lays it all out for you, in no uncertain terms. “It’s over — we’re officially, royally fucked. No empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock…” (via Mike O’Neill)

Lauds: Listen, it’s disgusting that female actors “age” so much faster than their male colleagues that they find themselves playing the mothers of characters played by men hardly any younger than themselves. But maybe there’s a good reason that has nothing whatever to do with crow’s feet.

Prime: Confucius say, a picture is worth a thousand words. (Citation, anyone?) RJ say, a thousand words is not too many. This week’s Economist cover gets a handy explication at Strange Maps.

Tierce: GM’s goal of recapturing 29% of the American auto market, set at the beginning of this decade, probably contributed to the company’s distress. (And it’s not the “29.”) (via Morning News)

Sext: “You’d better take the highway, because my way is for me only”: memos from Edward Mike Davis, proprietor of the Tiger Oil family of companies, make hilarious reading now. (Via Things Magazine)

Nones: It’s hard to read the BBC’s story about increased surveillance on the Mexican border without feeling that received morality makes people really, really stupid.

Vespers: Is the recession/depression stomping out ambition? Choire Sicha thinks so, and he’s going to write a book about it.

Compline: What impresses me about President Obama’s press conference this evening is his ability to address issues substantively but in terms that almost everyone can understand.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009


Matins: President Obama’s address to small business owners is good so far as it goes, but I’d like to see the Small Business Administration elevated to Cabinet status, with the bigger SBA overseeing tax policies for small employers.

Lauds: Good for them: “Rose family denounces plan to close Brandeis museum.”

Prime: How did I miss this story? “The city without a memory: treasures lost under collapsed Cologne archives.” What an inexcusable catastrophe.

Tierce: David Brooks notes that we are, anomalously, in an “astonishingly non-commercial” moment. But we’ll snap out of it, he reassures us, because it’s in our DNA to do so. But is it?

Sext: I’m beginning to understand that San Francisco writer (and computer geek) Lance Arthur has a magnificent curmudgeonly side. He suavely demonstrates that his hometown’s inferiority makes it a better place to live than New York.

Nones: Sounds like something Evelyn Waugh might dream up: “Followers of Madagascar’s opposition leader have been carrying out an exorcism at a presidential palace in Antananarivo that was seized by troops overnight.”

Vespers: Now that cabin fever is driving New Yorkers outdoors, regardless of whether spring has actually checked in for the day, here’s a handy independent bookstore walking tour from The Millions.

Compline: Quaint old Amsterdam will be re-fitted with a smart electric grid by 2016. (via The Infrastructurist)


Daily Office:

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009


Matins: Bernard Madoff is expected to plead guilty to 11 felony counts — enough to put him away for several lifetimes. How very dissatisfying!

Lauds: Movie box office is up — so why are the studios laying people off? Because they’re part of ailing bigger conglomerates. Take GE, for example … (via Arts Journal)

Prime: Meet Kate McCully, Boston’s Grammar Vandal.

Tierce: I try to avoid writing about stories that I don’t understand, but Stephen Labaton’s “Some Banks, Citing Strings, Want to Return Federal Aid” has me scratching a hole in my scalp.

Sext: John Tierney focuses his skepticism on the meaning of dreams. (No surprise: he makes it sounds kinda like Ouija.)

Nones: General de Gaulle’s withdrawal from the military command of NATO, in 1966, made great sense. So does President Sarkozy’s return.  

Vespers: Alexander Chee’s “Portrait of My Father,” at Granta Online.

Compline: Christopher Shea shares the outrage of the latest stretch of academic exploitation: not only do TAs have to do a full-time job, but they have to waive all the benefits that go with full-time work.


Daily Office:

Thursday, March 5th, 2009


Matins: Second only to Flint, MI as a GM-dependent town, Anderson, IN is piecing itself together with small businesses —

Lauds: The Walker Evans postcard show at the Museum ought to be a permanent installation in the American Wing.

Prime: George Snyder reports on the anxiety of celebrity — direct from Hollywood. (There’s a rapper called “Flo Rida”?)

Tierce: Can anyone tell me what a report on the ideological intransigence of academic economists is doing buried in the Arts/Books section of the Times?

Sext: Did you know that a chunk of asteroid as big as fifty metres missed hitting Sidney by only 60,000 miles the other day? (via Morning News.)

Nones: In news that you probably thought can’t be news, the first rail link between Laos and Thailand (or anywhere) is inaugurated,  crossing the Mekong River.

Vespers: Jeremy Denk hates Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, calling the author “one of the most gifted writers of boring sentences in the last decade.”

Compline: The new railroad connecting Santa Fe and Albuquerque, unlike the Interstate Highway, will  cut through pueblo lands. Conductors have been asked to request passengers to refrain from drive-by photography.  


Daily Office:

Thursday, February 19th, 2009


Matins: Bill Moyers talks to Simon Johnson about breaking big things (banks &c) into small things, and, by extension, reversing the insane consolidation trend that has beguiled bankers and investors since the Sixties. Have a look at Smashing Telly first.

Lauds: Every New Yorker knows that the guy or gal who takes your order at the corner bistro is probably waiting for some really good news about an audition, but what’s harder to remember is that waiting on tables may continue to pay the rent even after landing the lead in an Off-Off-Broadway show. And who should know better than Terry Teachout? (via Maud Newton)

Prime: A list that I’ll be poring over for the next week or so: Bryan Appleyard’s TimesOnline list of the “100 Best Blogs.” (via Anecdotal Evidence on the list!)

Tierce: New York’s Economic Development Department has launched an initiative to retrain (and retain!) financial-services workers who have lost their jobs. The plan sounds vague enough to generate either a re-education program, a venture-capital bank, or both.

Sext: Sir Bernard Ashley has died, at the age of 82. His business career, hitched as it was to the creative sensibilities of his wife, Laura, who died in a fall in 1985, is a disappointing reproof to the maxim that “no one is irreplaceable.” It would seem that Laura Ashley was.

Nones: Three accessories to the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the thirteenth journalist to die in a “contract-style” killing during the rule of Vladimir Putin, have been acquitted by a Russian court.

Vespers: Thanks to a heads-up from George Snyder, I tootled down to Sotheby’s this afternoon for the last day of the Valmadonna Trust Library exhibition. A collection of 13,000 books in Hebrew and, some of them handwritten and most of them quite old. Although I didn’t stay long, I was deeply impressed by the spirit of rigorous and revered learning.

Compline: Ha-ha-ha those crazy women drivers — don’t they know that they lack the “driving gene“? That’s what a would-be funny article in the Lebanese laddie magazine UMen claims.


Daily Office:

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009


Matins: For what it’s worth, I support the mortgage bailout that President Obama is expected to unveil in Phoenix later today. Helping those who can’t afford to pay their mortgages is the right thing to do. Helping homeowners whose mortgages are simply “underwater” — worth more than the home’s likely sales price — is a different problem that ought to be addressed in some other way, and not right now.

Lauds: The whole town’s talking — or so it seems — about Trovatore at the Metropolitan Opera, with the one (1) singer who has ever given me pleasure in an opera house, Sondra Radvanovsky. Steve Smith gave the show such an enthusiastic review that I had to get a ticket. 

Prime:  No Sh*t, Please; We’re British: R*tard Rids Reptile Researcher’s Reserves of Reclusive Retrosaur’s Refuse. Okay, I made up “retrosaur.” But it’s pretty cool as neologisms go, don’t you think? In case you’re wondering what it means, a “retrosaur” is a lizard that everyone thought was extinct — which is what this exceedingly English story is all about.  (via Brainiac)

Tierce: More good news from Washington: stepped-up merger scrutiny, and this time with brains. Rob Cox reports.

But there is a growing movement in the antitrust community to challenge this rational choice theory of neoclassical economics in favor of behavioral economics. Under this school of thought — loudly espoused by Obama’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers — economists examine how real people actually make decisions.

Applying behavioral economics to antitrust “risks expanding the scope of agency review to transactions that were previously unassailable,” two lawyers with Skadden Arps, Neal R. Stoll and Shepard Goldfein, wrote in The New York Law Journal last month. It would, among other changes, require the retention of psychologists alongside the economists, marketers and industry experts currently reviewing deals.

Sext: Does anyone remember Lady Fanny of Omaha? (The great Barbara Harris, in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.) Now we have Robert Allen Stanford, Texan financier and alleged swindler, dubbed Sir Allen by the government of Antigua in gratitude for his benefactions, which ranged from cleaning up the state balance sheets to sponsoring a cricket league.  

In Texas, Robert Allen Stanford was just another wealthy financier.

But in the breezy money haven of Antigua, he was lord of an influential financial fief, decorated with a knighthood, courted by government officials and basking in the spotlight of sports and charity events on which he generously showered his fortune.

I know that it’s silly, but I already think of him as “Sir Allen of Obama.”

Nones: The crucifix crisis has flared up in Italy again. A teacher has been sacked for removing the (non-compulsory) crucifix from his classroom, and the supreme court has let stand the conviction of  Jewish judge who refused to serve in a courtroom adorned with a cross.

Vespers: In a classic case of the deadly short-circuiting that can occur when book publishers have other interests — as, being components in media empires these days, they all do — Brian, at Survival of the Book, comments on Barry Ritholtz’s problems with McGraw-Hill, which didn’t like what he had to say about Standard & Poor’s, a McGraw-Hill property.

It’s also interesting to note yet another example of an author going right online with his case, and with a whole lot of material, to prove his innocence. On this post, he includes revised versions of pieces of the manuscript and footnotes, all of which he has every right to post. He’s making the case the he himself did not expose this story to the media but now that it’s out there, he can explain himself and his position as an author at a massive corporate publisher. As more such cases emerge and more authors speak out and get attention for it, perhaps publishers will work more in partnership with authors rather than seeing them as disposable manufacturers churning out products they depend on. As authors are expected to do more marketing, more publicity, more leg work all around on behalf of their books, then publishers must also know that they are armed with tools to broadcast their complaints.

Compline: Now, this is fun: in a new Pew poll, respondents were asked if they were happy where they lived or if they’d like to move.

Seven-in-ten rural men are content where they are, compared with just half of rural women.

Hmmm . . . how mysterious! (via Snarkmarket)


Daily Office:

Monday, February 16th, 2009


Matins: Alex Williams’ cheeky piece, “Bad Economy? Good Excuse,” seems to me to capture something about the Zeitgeist that is being overlooked. Isn’t it possible that a good deal of downsizing going on throughout the markets is motivated not by panic or uncertainty but by a desire to pass a lot of the gas that the economy has been building up for fifteen or twenty years (or more)?

Lauds: Regular readers will know that Lauds is for the arts that are not literary — but even so, Laura Cahill’s “readable furniture” seems closer to the library than to the gallery. (via Survival of the Book)

Prime: You know how people have their pictures taken by the Campanile in Pisa, so that it looks as if they’re holding it up, ha-ha. Pseudo Jeff at Ads Are Boring snapped photos of people while they were posing, but the posing is all that you see in his images, not the “joke.” Don’t they look silly!

Tierce: I’ve kicked off yet another category of blog entries: Capital Sins. This will be the rubric for the various manifestations of American anti-humanism, much of which appears to be one kind of racism or another. With its bloated prisons, the United States is clearly going about crime & punishment in a very bad way. Illegal mmigration is another matter that, try as they might, critics can never persuasively sell as a merely economic problem. An editorial in yesterday’s Times shows why.

Sext: The funniest thing that I’ve read in these unfunny times is Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s Letter from Frankfurt in the current issue of Harper’s, The Last Book Party.” The piece is funny even before the reporter gets to the Messe.  

That is, contemporary late-corporate publishing is a fallen world in which Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada, gets really rich, while Richard Ford, one of the indisputably important novelists of our time, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Independence Day and The Sportswriter, gets slightly less rich. None of the elegists say: What is coming to an end is the idea that Richard Ford is going to be richer than Lauren Weisberger. None of them say: What is coming to an end is the wishful insistence — for it is, ultimately, a wish, deeply felt, by a lot of people—that Richard Ford is going to be rich at all.

Nones: The highest court in France has acknowledged the state’s responsibility in the deportation of 76,000 Jews to prison (and death) between 1942 and 1944.

Vespers: At Emdashes, Martin Schneider writes about that singular anomaly, the smart person who “hates” The New Yorker. Matthew Yglesias, it turns out, is one such — although he has “caved.”

Compline: You just know that a 4% sales tax is going to chill purchases of online porn. Mean old Governor Paterson! (Thanks, Joe.)


Daily Office:

Thursday, February 12th, 2009


Matins: Good news on the international justice front:

Judges at the International Criminal Court have decided to issue an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, brushing aside diplomatic requests to allow more time for peace negotiations in the conflict-riddled Darfur region of his country, according to court lawyers and diplomats.

Lauds: What do you think? Does support from dodgy, possibly criminal corporations corrupt the arts that they subsidize? Tom Service, at the Guardian, certainly thinks so.

How can the art made at festivals sponsored by these bankrupt individuals and companies do the job that classical music should do, and have a necessary, critical voice in contemporary culture, if it continues to be supported by the dead hand of big banking?

Prime: Eric Patton celebrates the Darwin bicentennial by turning to The Pillow Book — not Peter Greenaway’s film so much as Sei Shonagon’s book — at SORE AFRAID. What on earth has the one got to do with the other? Having scrolled through Eric’s photographic lists, one will find Darwin’s conclusion all the more immanently enlightened.

I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.

Tierce: Personality clash or whistleblowing? “You decide.” Either way, Sir James Crosby, who fired an evident whistleblower when he ran the now-ailing HBOS, has had to resign as Britain’s deputy chairman of the Financial Services Authority.

Sext: We take you now from the buttoned-down elitism of The Daily Blague to Belfast, Maine, where a trust fund baby from California who collected Hitler’s silverware was found, after having been shot dead by his wife, Amber, to have been stockpiling the raw materials for a dirty nuclear bomb! (Thanks Alexander Chee!)

Nones: Isn’t it amazing? In a mere half-century, we have cluttered inner space with tons and tons of junk. Two items crashed on Tuesday.

But experts now see another potential threat. Richard Crowther explained: “Unique to the Iridium system is that all the remaining 65 satellites in the constellation pass through the same region of space – at the poles.

“So the debris cloud that is forming as a result of the Iridium satellite breakup will present a debris torus of high (spatial) density at 90 degrees to the equator that all the surviving Iridium satellites will need to pass through.”

Intact satellites share Earth’s orbit with everything from spent rocket stages and spacecraft wreckage to paint flakes and dust.

The diffuse mist of junk around our planet is the legacy of 51 years of human activity in space.

Vespers: Valerie Martin has a little list: six great novels about doomed marriages. Before peeking, make your own list. Okay, now you can look.

Compline: An amusingly ambiguous map from newgeography: American states that people don’t leave? Or states that they don’t move to? (via Brainiac)


Daily Office:

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009


Matins: So manypeople still don’t get it: the important thing right now is to do something, and then, maybe, something else. Waiting to get it right is the only guarantee of disaster. The Obama/Geithner plan faces a “brutally negative” response.

Lauds: I read it at Classical Convert first: Muzak has declared bankruptcy.

Prime: So, you’re going through the attic, convinced that it’s full of treasures. Sadly, you’re probably in the The Trough of No Value. Saving those “collectibles” always requires more patience than you think it will. (via

Tierce: Now that the Obama Administration is re-directing American focus to Afghanistan, the sub-sovereign creation of British mapmakers is metastatsizing from a sorry mess to the new Vietnam. Uh-oh!

The attacks in the capital underlined the severity of the challenge facing American policy-makers who have declared the war in Afghanistan a high priority for the new administration in Washington and who plan to almost double American troop levels with the deployment of some 30,000 additional soldiers.

Sext: What happened at The New School? Put it another way: why does Bob Kerrey stay on as President when he is so massively unpopular with the faculty? What is he thinking?

Nones: Trouble in Paradise Azerbaijan. For the first time since 1994, a “high-ranking” Azerbaijani military officer, Air Force leader Lt-Gen Rail Rzayev has been shot dead.

Vespers: Steven Moore reviews Tracy Daugherty’s new biography of Donald Barthelme, whose student Daugherty was in the Eighties: Hiding Man. (via Emdashes

Compline: Something very interesting and beautiful to look at before you go to bed: Scintillation, a short film by Xavier Chassaing (at Snarkmarket).


Daily Office:

Thursday, January 29th, 2009


Matins: Despite everything, Wall Street bonuses for 2008 totaled $18.4 billion — thank goodness!

Lauds: Ian McDiarmid’s adaptation of Andrew O’Hagen’s novel, Be Near Me, opens at the Donmar Warehouse to warm if cautious praise from Charles Spencer.

Prime: The site has a few strange navigational problems, but the Curated David Foster Wallace Dictionary might be just what you’re looking for in the Word-For-the-Day line. (via

Tierce: Can anyone tell me the bottom line on the Blackwater story in today’s Times? The headline, “Iraq Won’t Grant Blackwater a License,” must mean that Blackwater will not be allowed to provide security services within Iraq, right? Not if you keep reading.

Sext: Here’s a project for Google Maps: mowing the lawn.

Nones: The best part of this story — “Putin’s Grasp of Energy Drives Russian Agenda”  — comes at the end.

As far back as 1997, while serving as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Mr. Putin earned a graduate degree in economics, writing his thesis on the economics of natural resources.

But —

Vespers: Is Allen Bennett the new John Updike? He’s, er, two years younger. And quite as fluently prolific, if as a man of the theatre rather than as a novelist. Razia Iqbal talks about meeting him, but the interview is nowhere to be found.

Compline: We were neither of us in the mood — at all. But we had to go, in that grown-up way that has nothing to do with obligation. So we got dressed and went. And of course the evening was unforgettable: Steve Ross at the Oak Room.


Daily Office:

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009


Matins: Davos is shaping up to be the party not to be seen at this year. Our Governor Paterson is the latest defector. The White House is sending Valerie Jarrett.

Lauds: Terry Teachout writes about the unglamorous side of being an opera librettist. Asked how he does it all, the man of letters gives the manly answer:

I’m extremely humble about whatever gifts I may have, but I am not modest about the work I do. I work extremely hard and all the time.

Prime: Now that it’s over, I can read about it: the era of Press Bush. Errol Morris asks three wire-service photographers to talk about their most illustrative photographs of the late President. (via

Tierce: Preserving the death camp at Auschwitz poses a peculiar problem: the installation wasn’t built to last. And parts of it were blown up by the evacuating Germans, who assuredly weren’t concerned about the difficulty of maintaining a ruin.

Sext: Clyde Haberman talks about “nontraditional ‘shaming punishments’,” but I thought that shaming punishments were traditional. It’s prison time that’s new and “improved” (not).

Nones: And here I thought that “slumdog” was a standard insult in Mumbai, applied to anyone (particularly anyone Muslim) from the city’s rather ghastly slums. Not so.

The screenplay writer, Simon Beaufoy, said people should not read too much into the title. “I just made up the word. I liked the idea. I didn’t mean to offend anyone,” he said.


Vespers: Notwithstanding his prodigious output, John Updike was too young, at 76, to leave us. The commodore of American letters, he guided a convoy of writers from the avowedly amoral shoals of modernism to a native harbor of immanence, and he set his ships a high example for polished decks.

Compline: It were churlish not to wish long lives to the eight children born tout d’un coup, in the Miracle of Kaiser Bellflower. What a Mozartstag! John Updike dead, a human octopus born!


Daily Office:

Monday, November 10th, 2008


Matins: David Carr writes about a momentous meeting, a little over eighteen months ago, between Internet pioneer Marc Andreessen and a

junior member of a large and powerful organization with a thin, but impressive, résumé, he was about to take on far more powerful forces in a battle for leadership.

Guess who the other guy was.

Tierce: Ailing GM can’t cut off its union workers — not quite yet — but white collar retirees can kiss their “gold-plated” health care goodbye. Nick Bunkley reports.

Sext: Eric Pfanner’s somewhat breathless account of the state of play between Google and book publishers nonetheless conveys a good idea of where books are going. And it does indeed look like a good idea.

Vespers: It’s not the potato-stuck-up-the-bum that’s funny. It’s the idea that anybody would believe the story of how it got there.

The clergyman, in his 50s, told nurses he had been hanging curtains when he fell backwards on to his kitchen table.

He happened to be nude at the time of the mishap, said the vicar, who insisted he had not been playing a sex game.

(Thanks, Joe.)


Daily Office:

Friday, October 17th, 2008


Matins: “10 Reasons Why Newspapers Won’t Reinvent News.” A very persuasive list, and one worth thinking about because of its core idea: today’s newspapers are keeping tomorrow’s from being born, so the sooner they step aside the better. (via

Tierce: Kathleen, who reads the Letters to the Editor if she reads the paper at all, pointed out the following response to the American Dream of “Joe the Plumber”:

To the Editor:

Fair taxation isn’t about “redistributing the wealth” — it’s about giving back to the great country that gave you the opportunity to benefit so greatly.

It’s not about taking money from “Joe the Plumber.” It’s about making sure that “Joe’s Mega-Plumbing Incorporated” gives back to the country and the people who gave him:

¶Roads and bridges for his trucks to roll on.

¶Support for research for his latest plumbing equipment.

¶Public education so he can have a well-trained work force.

¶Markets so he can raise capital.

¶Police and firefighters so his business is protected.

¶Health care so the employees who helped him build his business can stay on the job.

¶Freedom so that he can build his business creatively.

If “Joe” has been able to become wealthy because of the bounty of America, then he should pay his fair share back to America — that is patriotic.

Daryl Altman

Lynbrook, N.Y., Oct. 16, 2008

Sext: One of the best bits in Ghost Town is Kristen Wiig’s turn as a colonscopist. I had not heard of Ms Wiig before, but now I’m not surprised by the comedian’s virtuosic range, from Judy Garland to Suze Orman. (Thanks to Andy Towle)


Daily Office:

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008


Matins: The Chinese milk problem is the second of this year’s challenges to the Way They Live Now. (Shoddy constructions of the schools that collapsed upon students during the Sichuan earthquake back in May was the first.) Flames from the scandal continue to reach higher into the hierarchy. As China grows more affluent, these scandals will probably increase.

Tierce: You’d think that the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression might inspire the Bush Administration to change its ways. Not a bit of it. What we’re getting is a replay to the Iraq run-up. The government’s bailout plan is written in the Key of Panic.

Nones: Have you discovered a great little organic red wine from Chile, Palin Syrah? It used to a big seller at Yield, a hip San Francisco wine bar, but no longer.

Compline: Google Maps now offers NYC subway directions! (via


Daily Office:

Friday, September 19th, 2008


Matins: John McCain has delivered himself over to the Republican Party handlers whose only objective is a victory for the Party. They’re not taking a chance on Senator McCain (whom they’ve never cared for anyway). No more Mr Nice Guy.

Lauds: Crayons!

Tierce: A while back — at Sext on 10 March, to be exact — I took one of my occasional fliers, and accused today’s right-leaning Federal judiciary of seeking to overturn progressive commercial-law decisions from the early Twentieth Century that underpin our consumer economy. I was teeny-tinily overstating, and if anybody had called me on it, I’d have been obliged to temporize.

No longer. Adam Liptak reports on the so-called “pre-emption doctrine,” a wildly pro-business, anti-consumer principle that is wholly consonant with what we know about Republican Party objectives.

Sext: For seventeen years, Dan Hanna took two self-snaps a day, making one full turn every year. The Time of My Life is stop-action animation with a vengeance! From 31 to 48, Mr Hanna ages very well, but still….  (via

Vespers: Hats off to Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, who is halfway to opening a bookstore in Fort Greene with strong support from the business community, from a $15,000 first prize in a Citibank competition to her business partner, a Random House sales rep.


Daily Office:

Thursday, September 18th, 2008


Matins: At the surgeon’s this morning, I did not even think of asking about the consequences of doing nothing. First of all, it would have been grotesquely histrionic. If you’re dying, maybe it’s all right to say “Let me go.” But my cancer is still stuck on my scalp, from which it will probably be removed without incident.

Lauds: Ben Brantley said something yesterday that threw me for a complete loop:

All artists steal from others. But if the resulting work holds your attention, you don’t consider its sources while you’re watching it.

Wow! Is that ever crazy wrong!

Tierce: I am crazy about Gail Collins.

And since McCain’s willingness to make speeches that have nothing to do with his actual beliefs is not matched by an ability to give them, he wound up sounding like Bob Dole impersonating Huey Long.

Dang, I wish I’d written that!

Nones: There are a lot of things that I’d like to see parents jailed for permitting, but truancy is probably a good start.

Compline: A recent British survey suggests that parents in only one family in three are reading to children. In my book, not reading to children isn’t just child abuse but antisocial behavior. (more…)

Daily Office:

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008



Intellectual Property: A core tenet of free-market capitalism is that the best product or service wins. On the level playing field, blah blah blah, consumers beat a path to buy the better mousetrap. The brouhaha over Scrabulous, however, shows just how bent our markets have become, as corporations have pushed for expansive application of intellectual property laws — yet another instance of socialism for the rich.


Wallonia: The march toward breaking up Belgium inches forward. In a poll, half of the nation’s Francophones (or Walloons) say that they’d be happier as Frenchmen — and an even higher percentage of Northern Frenchmen agreed!


Naughty Bits: Father Tony went to a wacked-out art show in Chelsea. So far, it seems, none of Robert Fontinelli’s furniture designs have been executed in three dimensions, but that may change.


Daily Office:

Thursday, June 5th, 2008



Marion: The Édith Piaf biopic, La Môme (La Vie en Rose), made a big Marion Cotillard fan out of me, and I set about seeing as many of her movies as I could. Her presence in Ma vie en l’air, which didn’t even make it to the United States as a video, is somewhat decorative; the movie is really about two guys who don’t want to grow up. But she brings to it a screen-goddess quality that’s reminiscent of Ava Gardner or Rita Hayworth. Unlike those divas, Marion Cotillard is a genuine actress, but, at least in this droll comedy, she’s a goddess, too. There are always a few goddesses running around, but today’s filmmakers don’t seem to know what to do with them.

Newton Falls: The heartwarming story of a pluckily-revived paper mill in the middle of Nowhere, Upstate, will — ought to — make a great movie. But I wish that reporter Fernando Santos had given my inner business historian something more to work with.


Exemptive: “What is the scope of the Commission’s authority to exempt?” This burning question is addressed as I write by a panel of securities lawyers that includes my dear wife. Tune in!


Dissertation: As the song says, “At Last.” I had a call from M le Neveu this evening. To get an idea of how unlikely it was that he would finish his dissertation — and I hasten to note that he has finished his disseration — have a look at the table entitled “Cumulative Completion Rates for Cohorts Entering 1992-4, by Fields” (scroll down a bit).