Daily Office:


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.


§ Matins. Johnson: “These are fine, upstanding citizens, who have a certain perspective…” Indeed: the perspective of oligarchs. “The [Congressional] committee members know the bankers too well.”

And God bless Bernie Sanders: “Any bank that is too big to fail is too big to exist.”

§ Lauds. You hear a lot of talk about tearing down the housing projects along the East River. I’d turn them into cités for New York’s aspirant performing artists. Getting in would be easy. Being thrown out would be triggered by not having slung hash in the past five years. 

§ Prime. To say that I’m always on the lookout for interesting blogs — well, until this year, it wouldn’t have been really true. Every now and then on the lookout. Once a quarter, perhaps. But when I resolved, in January, to post eight links a day, four days a week, all of them more or less related to what I’m writing about here (see “About This Blog), it didn’t take long to realize that I needed to amplify my resources. “Best” lists and lists of “Best blogs” may be dubious in conception, but they have taken me to some very interesting places, and, in one or two cases, to the sites of writers who are now among my oldest online friends. (Thanks, Patrick!)

§ Tierce. Mayor Bloomberg built his media empire with a $10 million severance that he received when Solomon Brothers fired him. I rather doubt that the opportunities that he faced still exist. At the same time, “empire” isn’t where we want to be going this time around. What we want is an abundance of small, robust, but moderately profitable businesses.

§ Sext. It was our luck to buy a weekend house when the Laura Ashley brand was being pushed hard in the US. We still have a few lampshades and the odd bit of crockery.

§ Nones. To the extent that they even knew about Politkovskaya, Russians were no more enthusiastic about her work than the Kremlin seemed to be.

Reacting to Thursday’s acquittals, the chairman of the Russian Union of Journalists, Vsevolod Bogdanov, said he was “ashamed”.

“I have this feeling of incredible shame – at what level was the investigation conducted that the jurors delivered this verdict unanimously?” he asked, speaking to Interfax news agency.

So this is what “winning the Cold War” looks like?

§ Vespers. I was told that the crowds — the place was packed — had not been anticipated.

Jack V Lunzer, the industrial diamond merchant who put most of the Library together, intends for his collection to sell as one lot. Its worth is roughly estimated at $40 million. Frankly, that seems low. The air in the showrooms was heavy with pricelessness.  

§ Compline. As The Infrastructurist points out, women are in fact much safer drivers.

It’s probably unnecessary, but we feel compelled to point out that women are actually safer drivers — in the US they die or suffer serious injury behind the wheel at less than half the rate of men (12,747 highway fatalities for femails compared to 29,722 for males in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available). On somewhat shakier ground there’s also this BBC story declaring “hormones make women safer drivers.”

2 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. Fossil Darling says:

    Nones :: “during the rule of Czar Vladimir” is more like it…….

  2. Quatorze says:

    Almost every woman I know is, at worst, an exemplary driver, and at best, can give Mario Andretti a run for his money. My sister has been known to back her car up nearly a full block length at high speed in a Cartesian, dead-straight line in order to snag an elusive Manhattan parking spot. My friend, Regina, taught me how to drive, and was known to drive her little car up against tractor-trailers, making them back down from cutting people off and hogging the road while she alternately screamed and blew kisses out the window at the startled blue-collar lugs she was jousting with on the Bronx’s most dangerous and competitive highways. My college chum, Cathy, can outmanoeuvre a MIG pilot if it means getting a parking space closer to the mall where a sale is in progress.

    The men I know who drive are often long on bravado and short on actual driving skill. With Fossil Darling and a friend I regularly commuted to college with being the sole exceptions, the male drivers of my acquaintance scare me; if more for their lack of understanding of their vehicle’s capabilities and their skill levels of manipulating same than anything else. Women drive automobiles and bring all their skill to bear in driving; men often believe that every vehicle they drive is a top-performance machine and rely too much on the often limited or non-existent abilities of the machine in question to get them out of their driving jams.