Daily Office:


Matins: Lest Academy Aware euphoria inspire forgetfulness, let’s travel to another part of California: the sad town of Perris, where Lawrence Downes finds a the housing crisis in a nutshell.

Perris was essentially a company town for corporate home builders. Now parts are a living foreclosure museum, with subdivisions tracing the staggering arc of boom and bust. Some still gleam. Others lie stained and rotting in the desert sun. And some, like Mountain View, are frozen, half-built: accidental monuments to mass delusion.

Lauds: Time joins the chorus of media neurotics who want popular movies to be nominated for Academy Awards. This has got to be the final rejection of Boomer values.

Prime: And here I thought I’d already posted links to Jean Ruaud’s new photoblog, beware, wet paint! In the Daily Office, I mean.

Tierce: Timothy M Dolan, Archbishop of Milwaukee, will be coming to St Patrick’s. At first glance, he seems to be about as good a choice as one could hope for. (Like our Federal courts, the Catholic hierarchy has been packed with conservatives who will persist despite liberalizing trends.)

Sext: There’s a witty French movie to be made from this story . . .

Nones: Just as one thought, people all over India are watching shows about Slumdog Millionaire on televisions, just as, in the movie itself, they’re shown watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Vespers: If you’re feeling a bit tired and beleaguered, worried that the world will still be here tomorrow, then you probably won’t take much comfort from Kate Kellaway’s manifesto (disguised as a news article) in the Guardian: “‘A whole library in wafer-lhin form’.”

This may be the last year in which it is possible to be ebook or mbook (of which more later) illiterate. We in the UK are on the verge of extraordinary changes in the way we read, think about narrative and define the book itself. Already the US and Japan are chapters ahead of us (the UK is a relatively timid, conservative bookworm). This month sees the US launch of Amazon’s Kindle 2 (a refined version of the handheld ebook as yet unavailable here) which will eventually make it possible for book victims like me to put down our heavy bags of books and trip lightly into the future with a whole library contained in a wafer-like, wireless form.

Compline: From time to time, I express my opinion that artificial persons (ie corporations) ought not to be allowed to own intellectual property. I have a number of reasons for this radical idea, but here’s a very clear one. Oxford physicist Joshua Silver has invented $19 eyeglasses for the world’s poor; he’s hoping to bring the price down.

Silver said there has been some resistance from the eyewear industry. Years ago, one vision company offered a “substantial amount of money” to him if he sold them his technology, but Silver said he declined because he had no assurance that it would be used to bring low-cost glasses to the poor.

How stupid did they think an Oxford scientist would be?

§ Matins. Just to make Perris more heartwarming, Mr Downes finds an angle of racial discrimination.

One union organizer, Chris Young, showed me mortgage documents for several homeowners who got in over their heads. Like many home buyers in this heavily Latino region, they were given the hard sell in Spanish. They said they were promised affordable, fixed-rate loans, but the buried details in the papers, in English, told another story.

They were stunned to learn that 10 years of payments would go only toward interest, and that impossibly huge balloon payments lurked down the road.

§ Lauds. That’s what we need! Movies with stats!

In virtually every other competition, whether it’s the World Series or an Olympic marathon or a national election, viewers get to see how close the race was. Would a large audience have invested a whole evening in the outcome of the Presidential election if the only excitement was in hearing Brian Williams announce, “And the White House goes to…Barack Obama!” — not which states he won, or how few votes determined the margin of victory in Virginia or Indiana? And the Super Bowl — would 100 million people watch it if the halftime show were virtually the whole show and, at the end, John Madden said, “Steelers won,” instead of, “This was the closest, wildest, most thrilling fourth quarter in NFL freakin’ history!”

Um, guys, it’s only the movies!

§ Prime. Each of the images that Jean posted yesterday is a beaut. But there’s one that I really really wish I’d taken. Here’s a hint:


§ Tierce. Rev Dolan seems more ancien régime than ideologue.

Obedient soldier of Rome though many say he is, Archbishop Dolan remains more politician than ideologue. He has not joined the American bishops who barred Catholic politicians who favor abortion rights from taking holy communion. And, with a notable exception or two, he has declined to ferret out the liberals in his midst.

I expect that Cardinal Egan, Archbishop Dolan’s predecessor, will be much remembered, much less missed.

Update: Father Tony knew him when.

§ Sext. . . . but, unfortunately, this isn’t France.

§ Nones. From a rigorously aesthetic standpoint, Danny Boyle’s movie does not deserve its Best Picture award. But since when were the Oscars about rigorous aesthetic standpoints? Penélope Cruz put her finger on what makes a film like Slumdog Millionaire so important today:

So could you work in America if you have an accent? Yes, you can. And that has been changing in the last 10 or 15 years. It was much harder before, but movies represent life, movies represent what happens in the streets. Then we are all in this together. In this room how many accents are here and not just people that are here this week, people, but maybe half of them or at least a quarter of them live here. And we are all mixed together more and more every day and that has to be reflected in cinema, so I’m happy that finally that door seems to be more open and not just to me and three other people. It’s to a much bigger group.

§ Vespers. And, unless you’re feeling very robust, you probably ought to steer clear of if:book as well; it’s the blog of the Institute for the Future of the Book.

§ Compline. Snuffing out such unbeatable competition makes great business sense — which is exactly why businesses must be deprived of the power to withhold the benefits of research.

The full extent of my view here is that intellectual property ought to be inalienable. Licensing rights might be inherited, but not the power to control the use of any idea whatsoever, be it an industrial process, a work of fiction, or even a “corporate” logo.

One Response to “Daily Office:

  1. Fossil Darling says:

    Since under the current domestic arrangements Quatorze sees movies with RJ every Friday, I was even more out of touch with the nominated movies than usual, but did not think “Slumdog Millionaire,” one of the few movies I have seen, was a Best Picture. Charming, but not “Best.”