Daily Office:


Matins: A collection of lucid responses to last week’s story about academic humanities (covered here).

Lauds: Have a look at but it does float — a tumble log noted by Things Magazine, an apparently anonymous curation noted, in turn, by Robin at Snarkmarket.

Prime: I’ve been following David Galbraith’s Smashing Telly(!) for a while now, and I’ve linked to or through it a couple of times. It’s a great site, because Mr Galbraith is a very strong writer. I have never once been inspired to watch the TV show under review, however. (I hope to read Niall Ferguson’s Ascent of Money eventually….)

Tierce: Bergen County Academies, a limited-admissions public school in New Jersey, is changing the debate (or at least reviving it) about vocational schools. Completely.

Sext: V X Sterne, at Outer Life, has some creative thoughts about tax avoidance. (They’re also perfectly legal; commendable, even!)

Nones: When I first glanced at headlines about the story about the cricketer shootings in Lahore, I thought that it involved a ramping up of Tamil violence on Sri Lanka. But no; it’s rather worse — yet another gash in the fabric of Pakistani society.

Vespers: Patrick Kurp writes so persuasively about Zbigniew Herbert’s essay collection, Barbarian in the Garden, that I’ve got to havea copy.

Compline: More than thirty years later, Spain is purging monuments to the Franco régime.


§ Matins. I couldn’t put it better than John W Worsham, formerly of Trinity University in San Antonio:

The subtleties of civilized living require an understanding of human functioning through centuries of ethical dilemmas, missteps and their consequences. Searching for meaning and purpose in our lives is not a trivial matter to be left to M.B.A.’s — we’ve tried that already.

§ Lauds. Looking at but it does float first thing in the morning could really enhance one’s day. Things Magazine I’d be careful to save for the late evening, with a glass of wine.

§ Prime. It’s not that the TV shows that Mr Galbraith writes up don’t sound interesting. He makes them sound very interesting indeed! But I know that it’s he who is interesting.

I never had any time for television “before,” but I have less than no time for it now that I’ve discovered Google Video Chat. Why watch somebody else’s show? My friends are more entertaining — plus, I like them.

§ Tierce. The most interesting part of Winnie Hu’s report, unfortunately, is what’s missing between the following paragraphs:

Beginning in 1951, the system trained as many as 1,000 students a year in plumbing, carpentry and electrical work. Enrollment declined as industries modernized and a college degree became a prerequisite for many jobs.

Bergen Academies opened in 1992 with a specialized curriculum in advanced math, science and technology, and other types of vocational training like cosmetology and landscaping continued at smaller campuses in Teterboro and Paramus.

If forced to speculate, I should venture that someone had the bright idea, in 1992, of co-opting a moribund institution that was, however, already in place in the law books. In the old days, it was your not-so-bright (poor) kids who were bundled off to trade school. The argument against vocational schools was that everyone needs a rounded education, not just (rich) smart kids. The schools fell into neglect and were abandoned, but the enabling tax directives and whatnot remained in place (as is their wont!) — and an enterprising educator exploited them to set up equivalents of New York’s famous limited-admissions high schools (Bronx Science is the best known outside of the city). Bravo!

It appears that all of Bergen County Academies’s students go to college, but they’re trained to do a job right out of high school. Ideally, they would all go to work upon graduation and postpone college for a few years. The more distance, in years, that we can put between higher education and what precedes it, the better the social return on investment.

§ Sext. It’s droll, though, to see a prosperous (if disaffected) member of the managerial class cast a yearning eye at the perks of the professoriat — given his somewhat jaundiced view of the academy.

We haven’t heard from V X in a while, so thank heaven for RSS.

§ Nones. Preliminarily, the attack appears to have been brought to us by the same omadhauns who gave us Mumbai.

Grenades, rocket launchers and backpacks belonging to the attackers were found at the scene, police said.

Following the attack, the sport’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), cast doubt on Pakistan’s ability to host high-level games.

“It’s difficult to see international cricket being played in Pakistan for the foreseeable future,” ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said in London.

§ Vespers. Mr Kurp winds up with a nice reference to Liebling:

Herbert was a formidably erudite man who carried his learning humbly. When he visits Lascaux, Siena or Chartres cathedral, he has already read voluminously, and probably out-read the scholars like a true autodidact, but visiting the places he has known only through books becomes a pilgrimage of sorts, acts of living humility. Herbert is, as Hryniewicz-Yarbrough says, “the other,” but he has already inhabited the sacred places of Western civilization before he arrives in his amply furnished imagination. He is comfortably at home in places he has never seen. I’ve just reread A.J. Liebling’s masterpiece, Normandy Revisited, another category-bending “travel” book. Liebling shares Herbert’s at-homeness away from home:

“Paris is foreign to no literate person, and the sensation of being abroad is the only pleasure I have never known there.”

§ Compline. Ideally, centrist and conservative parties would have removed statues and whatnot quietly, one at a time. The Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will indeed “reopen wounds.” And the clean-up can only be partial: demolishing the Valley of the Fallen is not in the cards.

Pretending monuments didn’t happen is a form of history erasure, and therefore bound to be unsuccessful. And, in the end, ineffective. Who would object if Louis XV still presided over the Place Louis XV de la Concorde?

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