Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

Editorial Note:
Blow It Up!

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

 

Fortunately, I was never a big fan of Barak Obama. He’s a smart guy, certainly, but even before he was elected — even before he campaigned for the presidency — he took prudence to the point of vice. Did anyone hear from him in the ethnic-cleansing aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? Let me know if you did.

No, all I cared about was his party affiliation, because all I cared — and care — about is fixing the Supreme Court, which is gushing toxic opinions at a clip to rival the Macondo well’s. As currently constituted, the Roberts Court poses a greater ecological threat to the United States than twenty broken wells. It won’t be happy, I think, until it has rearranged the population into two groups: wealthy rentiers and the people who service them. If you’re not working for somebody rich, you probably won’t be working at all.

Even so, although I’m not disappointed by President Obama, I am genuinely alarmed by his quiescence. The oil pours on and on and he does nothing. What can he do? He can order the Navy to demolish the well with conventional explosives, that’s what he can do. Or, in the alternative, he can explain to me why he doesn’t want to do that. But the proper course of action seems barred to him not because he’s unaware of unusual military solutions but because he still thinks that, as the private property of a group of corporations (each pointing fingers at the others), the well is beyond his reach. For him, that seems to be the end of the story. The well is dealing incredible damage to large swathes of this country, devastating livelihoods and destroying habitats — but he does nothing because, it seems, the well is private property. Nocando.

Correct me if I’m wrong, please! And please tell me how the president’s reaction is different from expecting homeowners to extinguish their own conflagrations in case of fire. Four alarm blaze : fire department :: Macondo disaster : naval intervention. Yes? Correct me if I’m wrong!

President Obama’s agenda is littered with murky problems — a monstrously uncertain war in Afghanistan, economic instability at home, an increasingly dysfunctional Congress — but this is not one of them. The only thing that’s murky about the Macondo well disaster is what it’s doing to the Gulf of Mexico.

Just ask Bill!

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

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¶ 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?

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Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

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¶ Matins: As the twentieth anniversary of “Tiananmen” approaches, it appears that most younger Chinese don’t have any idea that there’s an anniversary to mark. (via Brainiac)

¶ Lauds: I’m pretty sure that I don’t really want to see Steven Soderbergh’s new film, The Girlfriend Experience, but I’m fascinated by the wildly divergent responses that it has elicited at The Rumpus, from Stephen Elliott (pro) and Andrew Altschul (con).

¶ Prime: A story from last week that I missed: “A Vibrant US Train Industry Would Emply More People than Car Makers Do Now,” at Infrastructurist.

¶ Tierce: The testimony of Henry Christensen, the Sullivan & Cromwell attorney who served as Brooke Astor’s trusts and estates lawyer from 1991 to 2003, may have its greatest impact upon his own career. 

Update: Imagine what it must be like to read the following bit of news about yourself: “Though Mr Christensen is not charged with a crime...”

¶ Sext: Something fun from — “Down Under”? (Maybe that was the problem.) Balk balks.

¶ Nones: Little Elise André has been put in the position of a human ping-pong ball, as her parents — Russian mother, French father — secure conflicting custody awards from their respective home courts.

¶ Vespers: Dwight Garner gives Richard Wrangham’s Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human a very enthusiastic review; not the least of the book’s attractions is its brevity (207 pages!).

¶ Compline: Here’s an item to add to the checklist: bring the guys (and gals) who actually build/make things into the Green conversation. (How can I see Greening Southie?)

¶ Bon weekend à tous!

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Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

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¶ 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: Tuesday

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

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¶ Matins: The nightmare of peak oil is back, at least according to an analysis of global production by Raymond James, reported  at both WSJ Blogs and Infrastructurist. You haven’t forgotten what “peak oil” means, I trust.

¶ Lauds: “A book about beauty naturally must deal with its opposite, kitsch.” Really! I thought that ugliness was the opposite of beauty, not some uneducated person’s idea of beauty. Robert Fulford writes about Roger Scruton’s new book, Beauty.

¶ Prime: Michael Klein, who has certainly put in the hours at the track (and just around the livestock), waxes eloquent about Calvin Borel’s Derby win.

He’s won the race two years in a row (and in the same way, basically, finding an opening to shimmy his charge along the inside rail to the finish line)…

¶ Tierce: Mirth in court — not shared by everyone. As more prosecution witnesses testified to the wit and charm of Brooke Astor — and noted that it faded in the early years of this decade — jurors couldn’t help noticing that her son, Anthony Marshall, wasn’t smiling. Michael Daly reports.

¶ Sext: Does life really imitate art? Donald Trump will find out, if and when his plans for a golf resort ever materialize on the North Sea coast of Scotland. Anyone remember Bill Forsythe’s Local Hero, with Burt Lancaster in the the Donald role?

¶ Nones: Celebrate “Serf Liberation Day.” Okay, don’t. But be sure to read Stephen Asma’s extremely lucid account of recent-ish Tibetan history — and ask yourself how it would have worked out if the Cold War hadn’t been simmering. (via  The Morning News)

¶ Vespers: At Survival of the Book, Brian writes provocatively about Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor and ”the YA trend.”

¶ Compline: Is anyone out there still seriously attempting to “multitask”? If so, John Tierney and Winifred Gallagher can explain why you find it so hard to concentrate.  

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