Daily Office:


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).


§ Matins. It’s my considered opinion that the United States has still not recovered from the aggressive imposition of Civil Rights legislation throughout the South over forty years ago. I’m convinced that most anti-gay sentiment is nothing but displaced but undiminished animus toward African-Americans.

I don’t come away from the following paragraph wanting to break open the champagne.

This is increasingly the live-and-let-live society we inhabit — particularly younger America. In a Times/CBS News poll in April, 57 percent of those under 40 supported same-sex marriage. The approval figure for all ages (42 percent) has nearly doubled in just five years. On Tuesday the California Supreme Court will render its opinion on that state’s pox on gay marriage, Proposition 8. Since Prop 8 passed last fall, four states have legalized gay marriage and New Hampshire is about to. This rapid change has been greeted not by a backlash, but by a national shrug — just as a seemingly gay “American Idol” victory most likely would have been.

57%? Of those under forty? That’s a lot closer to a divisive fifty-fifty than I’d like it to be.

Do I think that it was wrong to push the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s? I do not. But it is wrong to ignore the toxic hangover that is still with us (and that put Ronald Reagan and George W Bush in office), and wrong to think that, at some point in the near future, opponents of same-sex relationships (much less marriage) will “get over it.”

§ Lauds. I admire Jean’s writing as much as I do his photography — but prose is never as thrilling as photography, which happens to be be, incidentally, a language that everyone can read.

§ Prime. Brian Stelter’s story shows how hard it is to make a buck in the YouNiverse. I do wish, though, that he’d had a word to say about Ms Boyle’s fortunes.

§ Tierce. If I were counseling the Marshalls, I’d have advised keeping any and all evidence of investing in Broadway shows (as the Marshalls did with the play that made Mr Mays famous, I Am My Own Wife) off the record.

§ Sext. Probably because I read too many high-toned blogs. Mr Wrong waxes pungent on Dominic’s Pasta Alfredo:

Wowee, I totally thought Dominos had shot their doughy wad with the cinnamon-flavored dessert-sticks or whatever, for enjoying after you ate a whole fucking pizza, for fuck’s sake, but now they got a fistful of macaroni shoved inside a bread glob! It is a certain kind of Genius, seriously, and I almost want one, but I don’t think I would get one unless I had a Free Coupon, because they look kinda dry. Where’s the sauce? I mean, doesn’t a fatass-item like this come avec the Dipping Sauce? Ranch? Honey Sun-Dried Tomato?

§ Nones. China, ruled by the Communist Party, supports an apparently fascist — if not feudal — regime on its borders? Hey, we supported the Shah! Why not?

§ Vespers. Back in 1996, I crossed the street, as it were, to avoid the very shaggy-looking Infinite Jest. I have since come to admire, if not quite to revere, David Foster Wallace, the anniversary of whose death due to depression will fall shortly before the scheduled completion of the group read. This sounds very interesting. Fifteen pages a day, though. On top, I mean, of everything else. Better get a copy!

§ Compline. On balance, I think that much more might be expecting of decriminalizing drugs: “What most studies do find, however, is that violent crime is strongly associated with the activity of illegal drug markets, which tend to thrive in black neighborhoods.” But RSVP points the way to a more humane theory of crime and punishment.

Contemporary justice in the United States is largely based on the idea of retribution, and relies primarily on punishment. Restorative justice, as Schwartz explains it, is based on the concept prevalent in more traditional societies that offenders must also try to repair, as far as possible, the harm they have caused others. In order to do this, offenders must first confront what they have done, and then make amends to their families, their communities, and, if possible, their victims as well. Schwartz writes that she very soon came to believe that restorative justice could be a means of transforming these men from chronic offenders into productive members of their communities.

The first step, persuading the San Bruno inmates to face up to their own violent behavior, would be the most difficult. What is particularly striking about violent men is how remorseless they often seem, as if they were devoid of feeling. Schwartz shows how their experience under the justice system only reinforces this sense of detachment. During their trials, defense lawyers coached them to deny or minimize their crimes. In jail, they spent their days complaining about the conditions, their sentences, the behavior of the deputies and other inmates, and society at large. At no time were the men ever required to assess their own behavior or acknowledge the pain they had caused.

2 Responses to “Daily Office:

  1. George says:

    I am really starting to understand and experience the true joy of this new “expandable” format, sort of a top down approach that I so like in GMail and one that is my natural intuitive approach from years of training and work in mathematics, logic and computer science. Bravo!, Mr K, Bravo!

  2. Nom de Plume says:

    Prime: “YouNiverse.” Good one. Yours?