Archive for the ‘Markets’ 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:

Monday, June 22nd, 2009


Matins: A trio of guest bloggers at Good write about the replacement of “conspicuous consumption” with “conspicuous expression.”

Lauds: It’s as if Petrus Christus and Rogier van der Weyden had taken up photography — also, recycling. Hendrik Kertens photographs his daughter, Paula. (via Purest of Treats)

Prime: Alan Blinder explains why (in his view) inflation — that bugaboo of the propertied classes — is not much of a risk right now. Find something besides inflation to worry about, he advises.

Tierce: Did the prosecutors in the Marshall trial jump the shark? To compute the value of an estate, it is necessary to venture a date of death. This is not a legal correlative of sticking pins in a voodoo doll.

Sext: Orthodox couple in Bournemouth claims false imprisonment, owing to motion-sensor lightswitch that obliges them not to leave their apartment on the Sabbath lest they turn on the lights.

Nones: Why theocracy cannot work in the modern world: “In the Battle for Iran’s Streets, Both Sides Seek to Carry the Banner of Islam.”

Vespers: It’s increasingly apparent that the book that we ought to be reading is the Bible. Americans think that they know it, but they don’t. (via reddit)

Compline: Is Prince Charles cruising for a bruising?


Daily Office:

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009


 ¶ Matins: At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf brings the Twitter revolution back home: will an “information elite” shape political action even before most citizens are aware of events?

Lauds: An interesting look, written in Varietese, at the “growth” — mostly prospective, if you ask me — of musical theatre in France. The French have hardly developed a real taste for grand opera yet, if you ask me.

Prime: James Surowiecki winds up a column on the price of oil with a call for a gas tax. I’m all for it, too, but — well, read on.

Tierce: The scene of the crime, described.

Sext: Ralph Gamelli elaborates on that great New Yorker cartoon caption, “How about never? Is “never” good for you?: “Read My Body Language,” at TMN.

Nones: More bitchery-at-sea in Asian waters: as the reddit post put it, “Chinese submarine collides with US Warship towing submarine-locating device. Irony surrenders.”

Vespers: James Scott, at The Rumpus, writes so powerfully about Josh Weil’s triptych of novellas, The New Valley, that I’ve added an errand to my list: get this book.

Compline: Eric Margolis discusses four persistent myths about World War II. Watch your toes!


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:

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:

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:

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:

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009


Matins: The Justice Department has decided, provisionally, that the Bush Administration lawyers who okayed torture, while “serious lapses of judgment,” ought not to be prosecuted. Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens explores the unnecessary folly of those lapses. (via  The Morning News)

Lauds: The first “Madoff” art sale? The co-founder of Nine West, Jerome Fisher, one of the fraudster’s investors, has consigned one of  Picasso’s “Mousquetaire” paintings to Christie’s. (via  Arts Journal)

Prime: If you liked that article with the spaghetti on the back page of the Book Review, there’s more, at Psycho Gourmet.

Tierce: Geriatrician Howard M Fillit testified yesterday that, without her ample support staff, Brooke Astor would have been tagged with Alzheimer’s at least three years earlier.

Sext: First the good news: “China cigarette order up in smoke.” Now the good news:

The authorities in Gong’an county had told civil servants and teachers to smoke 230,000 packs of the locally-made Hubei brand each year.

Those who did not smoke enough or used brands from other provinces or overseas faced being fined or even fired.

Nones: The truly interesting detail in Carlotta Gall’s Times story about the impending government assault on Taliban forces in the Swat valley of Pakistan is the absence of two words: “civil war.”

Vespers: DG Myers has written up an Orthodox and (culturally) conservative reading of Zoë Heller’s The Believers that all serious readers of the novel, I expect, will have to consider.

Compline: Making the New Yorker Summit rounds yesterday was Jason Kottke’s appreciation of Milton Glaser’s Rule #3 (“Some People Are Toxic Avoid Them“)


Daily Office:

Monday, May 4th, 2009


Matins: Of the 1929 crash, veteran Al Gordon (who died the other day at 107) once said, “Young men thought they could do anything.” Things haven’t changed, as an autopsy of Lehman Bros’ real-estate operations shows.

Lauds: RISD prof Anthony Acciavatti teaches an “advanced studio” that has spawned Friends of the Future, a traveling exhibition that, on the side, will distribute 36,000 postcards at popular stops: gas stations and McDonald’s. (via Art Fag City)

Prime: Is Daily News gossip columnist Joanna Molloy writing the juiciest items about the Marshall trial? Or is the Post’s Andrea Peyser more your style (who knew that Louis Auchincloss grew up in Five Towns?)

Tierce: On the front page of today’s Times, an old story — one that I’ve been reading since 9/11 at the latest: “Pakistan’s Islamic Schools Fill Void, but Fuel Militancy.” What the madrasas really fill is poor little boys’ stomachs. Instead of spending billions on ineffective warfare, why can’t we?

Sext: Patricia Storms discovers Struwwelpeter. Here’s hoping that the Toronto artist will conceive an update.

Nones: The more I think about NATO, the less sense it makes, and the more it looks like a club with which minutemen want to beat up Russia, while shouting, “You lost the Cold War! You lost the Cold War!” John Vinocur reports on Georgia (from Brussels).

Vespers: Marie Mockett on girls, ghosts, Genji, and her own forthcoming novel, Picking Bones from Ash, at Maud Newton.

Compline: Silvio Berlusconi not only refuses to reconcile with his wife, but he demands an apology as well! Now, that’s a spicy meatball!


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:

Thursday, April 16th, 2009


Matins: At the risk of sounding impetuous: my response to the Times‘s account of Archbishop Dolan’s first news conference is a happy smile. His way of reminding reporters that the Church’s position on same-sex marriage is “clear” suggests that he doesn’t care what it is.

Lauds: Go ahead, it’s Thursday: kill the morning by feasting your eyes on jacket art at the Book Cover Archive. (via Arts Journal)

Prime: A touch of White Mischief for the weekend: Lady Idina Sackville, subject of a forthcoming biography by one of her great-granddaughters: The Bolter.

Tierce: The nation’s second-largest mall operator, General Growth Properties, has filed for bankruptcy. As usual, the culprit was good-times leverage that opened up an abyss.

Sext: Pesky rodents driving you crazy? Do what the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department plans to do: blow the varmints to kingdom come by igniting a “calibrated mixture of oxygen and propane” in their burrows. It’s “humane,” they say. Watch for yourself!

Nones: It’s very difficult not to have problems with the religion called “Islam” after the remarks of a Shiite madrasa leader in Kabul, commenting on protests by Afghan women against a repressive new “home life” law.

Vespers: Patrick Kurp reflects on the difference between a public library and a university library.

Compline: How George Snyder, one of the most inquisitively literate men I know, manages to get from day to day on Planet Arrakis in Los Angeles is quite beyond me. But he does; and, as Irene Dunne put it, “he’s pretty cute about it, too.”

Bon weekend à tous!


Daily Office:

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009


Matins: And here we thought that Janet Napolitano had effected a crackdown on smuggling American-bought guns into Mexico. Seems not. Loopholes!

Lauds: Handel meant Handel! Okay, Händel meant business — when it came to business. Everyone knows that he lost his shirt as an opera impresario. It seems that he had another shirt! (Via Arts Journal)

Prime: Margaret Drabble will write no more novels, claiming that she’s too old to remember what she’s already written. This can mean only one thing, and it does —

Tierce: The number of days — as in “days are numbered” — for totally free Internet access to most print publications continues to drop. Journalism Online LLC plans to be operational “by the fall.”

Sext: Interior designers with newly-rich clients have long had ways of dealing with the problem of stocking beautifully paneled libraries with bulk purchases of snazzily-spined volumes, but I was unaware of an online service until yesterday. (via Brainiac)

Nones: Moldovans who want their country, the poorest in Europe, to merge with Romania ought to have a confab with some Flemish Belgians, or some Catalonians, before getting too worked up.

Vespers: At Asylum, John Self writes about Every Man Dies Alone, the newly-translated novel that Hans Fallada (the pseudonym of Rudolf Ditzen, 1893-1947) wrote in a month, right before killing himself. (via The Second Pass)

Compline: From Waking Up, an elegant rebuttal of Wingnut claims that gay marriage is inimical to religious freedom. Step by step, and perfectly lucid. (Via Joe.My.God) (more…)

Daily Office:

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009


Matins: China’s purchase of American debt has slowed down, according to a recent report. As long as it doesn’t simply stop altogether (gulp)….

Lauds: Green Porno, with Isabella Rosselini. These birds-‘n’-bees audio-visuals are almost okay for kids. Except of course for Ms Rosselini’s delicious naughtiness.

Prime: Geoffrey Pullum, a professor of English and linguistics at Edinburgh, doesn’t think much of The Elements of Style, and will not be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. (via Arts Journal)

Tierce: The Ford Foundation, our second largest, has streamlined its operations. This is not a cutback so much as a reconception of “lines of work” — an intellectual advance.

Sext: Culinary professional Peter Hertzmann may convince you that you need an iPod Touch more than a new KitchenAid stand mixer. Wholly Apps!

Nones: Jonathan Head’s BBC report, appraising the latest, and inevitable, wave of unrest in Thailand highlights the core problem for most sovereignties since 1789: nurturing an élite that has the common sense to avoid disenfranchising the lower strata of society.

Vespers: What, exactly, is a novella? A short novel, or a long story? At hitheringandthithering waters, John Madera collects a number of reasonably learned opinions — or, at least (and what is better), reading lists. (via The Second Pass)

Compline: Simon Blackburn argues (at some length, alas) that David Hume is very much the man for our times.

I suspect that many professional philosophers, including ones such as myself who have no religious beliefs at all, are slightly embarrassed, or even annoyed, by the voluble disputes between militant atheists and religious apologists. As Michael Frayn points out in his delightful book The Human Touch, the polite English are embarrassed when the subject of religion crops up at all. But we have more cause to be uncomfortable.

The annoyance comes partly because of the strong sense of deja vu. But it is not just that old tunes are being replayed, but that they are being replayed badly. The classic performance was given by David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, written in the middle of the 18th century. Hume himself said that nothing could be more artful than the Dialogues, and it is the failure to appreciate that art that is annoying.


Daily Office:

Thursday, April 9th, 2009


Matins: Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre take pictures of ruins. Remember when ruins were in Europe? No longer, mon cher. Below the fold, M&M’s photo of Detroit’s Central Station. “The Ruins of Detroit” — sans Beethoven. (via The Best Part)

Lauds: Daniel Barenboim, one of the greatest musicians alive, seems determined to make a mark in a second career: normalizing Arab-Israeli relations. He’ll be conducting a concert in Cairo (Al Qahirah) next week. Bravo!

Prime: Yesterday afternoon, I read at Facebook that my daughter “has gone mental for GoldFish.” I was pretty sure that she wasn’t talking Pepperidge Farm, but I pressed the proffered links anyway. Anybody remember “Captain of Her Heart,” by Blue? The lead has just about the same voice.

Tierce: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan, lists ten principles for a healthier economy. I hardly know which one I like best. (via  The Morning News)

7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”. Cascading rumours are a product of complex systems. Governments cannot stop the rumours. Simply, we need to be in a position to shrug off rumours, be robust in the face of them.

Sext: Who is Susan Powter? The other day, Everything Is Terrible, a site that curates awful videos, spotted her “How to Shop at a Grocery Store.”

Nones: With the viability of tax havens in doubt, Monaco upgrades its luxury haven operation.

Vespers: Susan Sontag talks! “The elevator swished up like a gigolo’s hand on a silk stocking.” On her way, that is, to interview Philip Johnson, sometime back in the Sixties. (Via Tomorrow Museum)

Compline: Richard Kalnins grew up in Connecticut, but he spent his childhood Saturdays in Yonkers — the whole day at Latvian school.

Inside, we were strictly forbidden to speak English. My classmates and I spent the day in small classrooms, decorated with framed portraits of presidents from the first Latvian republic, where we listened to white-haired octogenarians talk about their lives in Latvia before the war. We picked through the dense pages of nineteenth-century pastoral novels, recited the names of the country’s longest rivers and biggest lakes, chanted noun declensions in singular and plural, masculine and feminine, and sat on stiff metal chairs by the piano in the basement, crooning folk songs about mowing meadows of clover and watching the sun set into the sea. The rooms were stuffy and overheated and smelled of dusty radiators and chalky erasers. Across the street, old Puerto Rican men in shirtsleeves hung out the windows of what somebody’s brother called a welfare hotel. I couldn’t stand it. I hated Latvia.

Because of the holiday weekend, the next Daily Office will appear on Tuesday, 14 April. Bon weekend à tous!

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:

Thursday, March 19th, 2009


Matins: Blood and Treasure. We were supposed to be the land of the free, but we’re really that land of the pirates.

Lauds: The death of Nathasha Richardson — how?

Prime: Not since David Owen’s New Yorker piece have I seen such a ringing endorsement of Green Gotham. Hey, you rubes in your country idylls — we’re the conservors.

Tierce: Something else to drive the Wingnuts crazy: Attorney General Eric Holder has announced an end to raids on medical-marijuana dispensers.

Sext: Bullfighting becomes exciting — out of the ring. When one torero wins the top arts medal (?), an earlier laureate returns his in disgust.

Nones: Sukumar Muralidharan’s concise and lucid “Accountability in a time of excess” exhorts you to know what you’re talking about when you invoke Adam Smith.

Vespers: Everybody knows that French workers love to walk out in protest. For the chattering classes, reading books that are unpopular with the grosse légumes is preferred. As a result, La princesse de Clèves, a historical novel published in 1678, is once again a sell-out. (via Alexander Chee)

Compline: It’s a lengthy, small-type read, but Danielle Allen’s review of Josiah Ober’s Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens in TNR may be the most important piece of political theory that you read this year. Yes,


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:

Monday, March 16th, 2009


Matins: Is President Obama going too far on the economy, or not far enough? Both, says The Economist, in a piece that explicitly opposes voters’ interests (“rage”) and “market confidence.”

Lauds: Steve Martin will “produce” a high school performance of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. That is, he’ll contribute (mightily) toward the costs, after parents banned the play from the high school itself.

Prime: What to do when a much-loved blogger dies? That’s what Robert Guskind’s executor will have to decide, vis-à-vis Gowanus Lounge.

Tierce: Louis Uchitelle’s report on using the railway bailout of the 1970s as a template for saving Detroit reminds me of the importance of taxonomy.

Sext: “How to Write Like an Architect,” Doug Patt’s brisk clip at YouTube, is more than a primer on stylish block printing. Like the most seductive advertising, it holds out the promise of a life well-lived. (via

Nones: You know things are bad if the best thing the Irish can think up at the moment is how to repatriate Irish-Americans.

Vespers: Lance Mannion won’t be reading Blake Bailey’s new biography of John Cheever.

Compline: They’re looking for qualified workers in the Auvergne (“backwater” is a serious understatement) — and beginning to find them.


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.