Archive for the ‘The Hours’ Category

Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, May 13th, 2010


¶ Matins: From the introduction to Ian Buruma’s new book, Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents, a long view that’s a call for calm. (Princeton University Press; via 3 Quarks Daily)

¶ Lauds: Nige writes about a show at the National Gallery (London) that’s the very best sort of treat: “compact, illuniating about an artist I barely knew, and full of remarkable paintings.” In this case, the painter is Christen Købke of Denmark (1810-1848). (Nigeness)

¶ Prime: In “Small Businesses Get a Little More Optimistic,” David Indiviglio checks out “the engine of the US economy” — responsible for 70% of American job creation.

¶ Tierce: Out of more than 12,000 medical articles on the subject of food allergies, published between 1988 and 2009, only 72 satisfied the rigorous criteria devised by a federally commissioned study. As a result, it’s likely that only about 8% of adults (and 5% of children) who are thought to have food allergies actually do. The authors of the study especially want to restore the difference between a food intolerance (which can lead to discomfort but not much more) and a genuine allergy. (NYT)

¶ Sext: At The Bygone Bureau, Alice Stanley reports on Zynga addiction in the heartland, and finds that it’s contagious. She caught it from her boss, the manager of a college pub who plays Café World.  

¶ Nones: Here’s a deal to keep your eyes on: Charlapally Central Jail, outside Hyderabad, has  been chosen for a pilot project in which prisoners will do back-office work (data entry and such) for outsourced businesses. (BBC News)

¶ Vespers: Laura Miller ventures an essay on the uses and pleasures of bad writing. (Salon; via 3 Quarks Daily)

¶ Compline: The artistic vandal known as Poster Boy (Henry Matyjewics) has been sentenced to eleven months in jail, pretty much for just plain screwing up. Not for defacing subway advertisements! (WSJ; via Felix Salmon)

Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010


¶ Matins: The easy part: Tea Partiers take control of Colorado’s Republican Party nominating process and rewrite Maine’s GOP Platform. (Slate)

¶ Lauds: Joan Ackerman profiles John Williams, one of the giants of film-score composition — and father of some kids down the street when she was growing up in Westwood. (; via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: Are you an Asker or a Guesser? According to Oliver Burkeman — “This Column Will Change Your Life” — It doesn’t really matter, so long as you know which sort of person you, and the people around you, are. Nobody likes to be denied, but Askers are a lot more comfortable with “no” than Guessers are. (Guardian; via Marginal Revolution)

¶ Tierce: What makes some people faithful spouses? Maybe it’s a “fidelity” gene. But we think that Arthur Aron, out at Stony Brook, has the right answer: “self-expansion.” Commitment is not a problem if you feel that you owe your happiness to your partner. (NYT)

¶ Sext: Julia Ioffe profiles Chatroulette inventor Andrey Ternovskiy. He’s a computer genius, of course, but he got his inspirational start from working at a gift shop, aimed at foreign tourists, called “Russian Souvenirs.” Even the fact that Andrey’s uncle owned the shop couldn’t save him as a salesman. (The New Yorker)

¶ Nones: From a BBC Q & A about the United Kingdom’s governing coalition, an outline of “key priorities.” (BBC News)

¶ Vespers: A very agreeable vision of the future of the book is on view at Three Percent, where Chad Post writes about the Cahiers Series, beautifully-made books that ring variations on the theme of translation, “understood in very broad terms.” But enough about the texts; these are books to show off.

¶ Compline: Reputation and Humiliation in the Age of Facebook: at WSJ, Jeffrey Zaslow quotes a consultant who predicts a massive case against an ISP, “for spreading malicious gossip.” Meanwhile, at Indiana University, Lanier Holt beings a course in “The Principles of Public Relations” with a surprise. (via MetaFilter)

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010


¶ Matins: In our view, no one has better captured the nature of the new American populism better than Mark Lilla has just done in “Tea Party Jacobins.” We could not agree more, that the American elite, preoccupied with getting its message just right, has almost completely forgotten how to lead. (NYRB)

¶ Lauds: Ingrid Rowland writes about Luca Signorelli’s Apocalypse, in Orvieto cathedral. As Ms Rowland reminds us, this is an unusual theme in Italian art. Orvieto’s recent history (in 1499) may explain Signorelli’s assignment. “The city’s official governor was none other than Cesare Borgia.” The cycle’s anti-Semitism, however, reflected a newly heightened hostility. (NYRBlog)

¶ Prime: Why Not: Steve Tobak’s “5 Marketing Lessons From SNL’s Betty White Show.” Aside from the third item on the list (stressing the importance of strong content), Mr Tobak’s advice seems to boil down to “intelligent recycling.” Nothing wrong with that. (The Corner Office)

¶ Tierce: In an essay about the neurobiology of patience, Jonah Lehrer explains why transcranial magnetic stimulation is superior to functional magnetic resonance imaging. (But we still get a headache thinking about undergoing these experiments.)

¶ Sext: Chris Lehmann (who admits to trawling Forbes’s Web site for “Rich People Things” material) extends his eyeglass in the direction of “investment guru” and Friend-of-Bono  Roger McNamee, and shares one of the worst technological predictions since you yourself said, “Why would I need a computer/iPad?”

¶ Nones: A report on Belgium, currently without a government, in the Guardian. As we’ve noted before, the thorniest aspect of Belgian separatism is Brussels, an artificially (but none the less actually) francophone city in the middle of Flanders. Were Brussels in the south of Belgium (Wallonia), the country could peacefully go the way of Czechoslovakia. (via Arts Journal)

¶ Vespers: At The Millions, Sophie Chung  writes about how reading Chekhov will make you not only a better person but a better writer.

¶ Compline: Frank Rich is lustily indignant about MSNBC’s indecent non-coverage of last week’s Time Square bomb attempt. (NYT)

Daily Office: Friday

Friday, May 7th, 2010


¶ Matins: Bart Centre of New Hampshire is candid about his motivation in starting up the  service that he calls Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, which promises care for pets left behind by the Raptured. (Bloomberg; via 3 Quarks Daily)

¶ Lauds: Our favorite baritone in the whole world, Thomas Meglioranza, is interviewed by Linda Richter, at Classical Singer. We can’t give you any music here, but we can call attention to Tom’s superb diction, which makes everything that he sings a story.

¶ Prime: Here’s hoping that Jon Meacham is cheered by Felix Salmon’s good reasons to buy Newsweek from the Post Co.

¶ Tierce: The fascinating thing about Jonah Lehrer’s piece on underdogs, and why we root for them, concerns referees, who quite conspicuously don’t! It appears that referees are stoked by cheering crowds.

¶ Sext: At The Awl, Graham Beck rather impudently compares his whiskey chocolate chili to Picasso’s most recently-sold painting.

¶ Nones: The Economist puts it very well, with a starkly unflattering picture of the Greek political system that joining the Euro zone may have put to an end. (via The Morning News)

¶ Vespers: John Self not only writes about but displays the ten volumes of Penguin’s Central European Classics series. What a delightful reading list to polish off all once, if only one were still in school. In particular, Mr Self has been reading Slawomir Mrozek’s The Elephant.

¶ Compline: Catherine Lutz talks about her book, Carjacked: The culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives, with Melissa Lafsky, at The Intrastructurist. One point that’s hammered home nicely: there’s really nothing you can do that’s anywhere near as dangerous as driving around in a car.

Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, May 6th, 2010


¶ Matins: At The Economist, a report on the social nature of television watching. The piece shows why “there is little to suggest that television is growing a long tail of niche interests.” The implication is that people watch television largely because other people watch television. This is heartening news, in its way — if people didn’t believe that they were participating in some sort of group pastime, they wouldn’t watch television. But it also contributes to the pile of explanations why really good television programming will always be vaninishingly rare. (via Arts Journal)

¶ Lauds: Peter Plagens offers a list of “ten things to think about regarding” the record-breaking sale of a 1964 Picasso painting the other day. (ARTicles)

¶ Prime: We were wondering when Felix Salmon would get round to dicing the Buffett/Deal Book piece to which we alluded yesterday in this space.

¶ Tierce: Philip Ball suggests that proponents of “Intelligent Design” familiarize themselves with the work of evolutionary geneticist John Avise. “What a shoddy piece of work is man.” (Nature; via 3 Quarks Daily)

¶ Sext: At Sparksheet, an intereview with Blake Eskin, the Web editor of The New Yorker. As long-time subscribers, we feel that we’re in good hands. (via The Rumpus)

¶ Nones: Good grief! In the middle of everything that’s going on in the world today, the leaders of nations belonging to the Unasur bloc (a counter-US South American treaty organization) won’t play show up at the EU-Latin America summit if Honduran president Porfirio Lobo attends. It’s amazing that there’s still any life in this story. (BBC News)

¶ Vespers: The Rumpus at its best: Kevin Evers writes about a drolly meta book, From Old Notebooks, in which Evan Lavender-Smith assembles a miscellany of thoughts about writing his first book. Which of course the miscellany becomes.

¶ Compline: Researcher Paul Bloom’s sketch of an investigation at Yale into the moral nature of very small children makes for fascinating reading, but it’s the conclusions drawn at the end that make this preview from the coming weekend’s issue of the Times Magazine a must-read.

Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010


¶ Matins: At the National Journal, Jonathan Rauch writes about a phenomenon that we highlight every time it comes up: Red state families make adults; blue state adults make families. (via MetaFilter)

¶ Lauds: Andrew Alpern has donated his collection of 700 works by Edward Gorey to Columbia University — which had better mount a show! (via NYT, Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: Andrew Ross Sorkin wonders if Warren Buffett has it right about the SEC action against Goldman Sachs. (NYT)

¶ Tierce: Inevitably, “auties” argue that they are different, not damaged. Who wants to be a dumb old neurotypical, anyway? (New Scientist)

¶ Sext: Fashion marketers are slow to grasp the New iPad Order: their Web sites, dependent on Adobe Flash, don’t play on the Apple screen. We take this as proof positive that the iPad is indeed the device with which most people will connect to the Internet. (PSFK; via, The Morning News)

¶ Nones: The polluted northern Chinese city of Datong, remembering that it was briefly the Ming capital, is rebuilding its city walls, complete with watchtowers every 200 meters. (BBC News)

¶ Vespers: At The Millions, Colin Marshall explores the strange but magisterial fiction of Kobo Abe (1924-1993).

¶ Compline: Chris Lehmann skewers Nancy Hass for boo-hooing about the death of couture. Plus ça change, baby! (The Awl)

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010


¶ Matins: At Surprisingly Free, Jerry Ellig observes that taking procedural shortcuts (resorting to “fast tracks”) can lure regulatory rule-makers into carelessness. He urges the FTC, which may be given enforcement power over online firms, not to repeat the errors of the FCC’s recent “net neutrality” fiasco. 

¶ Lauds: Lauren Wissot loves Enron — the musical. In spite of itself. (The House Next Door)

¶ Prime: At the Times, Dan Bilefsky and Landon Thomas present a lucid explanation of why the proposed Greek bailout is unlikely to make anybody happy.

¶ Tierce: Hugo Mercier reports on a study showing that, to soccer players at least, there’s something more important than scoring points. (International Cognition and Culture Institute; via The Morning News)

¶ Sext: John Hargrave tests his VISA card’s concierge service. (Not surprisingly, this “service” helps cardholders spend more money.) It’ll be interesting to see how long this sort of thing is tolerated: (The Blog of Tim Ferriss; via The Morning News)

¶ Nones: How do you feel about Jonestown tourism? Good idea? Not so much? (NYT)

¶ Vespers: Maud Newton celebrates her blog’s eighth anniversary by offering a tour d’horizon of today’s better bookish blogs. She also notes a spot of fatigue.

¶ Compline: At The Bygone Bureau, staff members contribute to a collection of cooking-disaster stories that are not so much sidesplitting as illuminating: what does cooking look like to people who don’t really cook?

Daily Office: Friday

Friday, April 30th, 2010


¶ Matins: We really cannot speak of a “race to the bottom” in the vying of Party of No candidates for Iowa’s Third Congressional District. Each and every one of the candidates is already là-bas. The winner, in our view, is Mark Rees, not so much because he has any brilliant ideas about illegal immigration as because he knows that modern politicking is a kind of three-card monte. (; via The Morning News)

¶ Lauds:  Music written for Prince Charles by Sir William Walton, never before recorded, has just come to light, having been forgotten in the hoopla of Charles’s investiture as Prince of Wales forty years ago. (Telegraph; via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: Meet Oliver Budde! A former associate general counsel at Lehman Brothers, Mr Budde was outraged when Lehman capsizer Richard Fuld claimed, in Congressional hearings, to have made $310 million over three years and to have lost it all. Having very unhappily prepared Lehman’s compensation disclosure documents over a number of years, Mr Budde knew better, and he decided to blow a few whistles (one wasn’t enough). His story appeared at Bloomberg News yesterday. (via Felix Salmon)

¶ Tierce: This will sound perfectly ridiculous at first, but apparently you really can teach yourself to see better. The effort won’t improve your eyes, but it will do wonders for your brain. (Wired Science)

¶ Sext: At Ivy Style, Christian interviews Lisa Birnbach, and if you have to ask who she is, save yourself the embarrassment and don’t; just stick around and find out for yourself.

¶ Nones: If the Liberal Democrats win the UK election next Thursday, then party leader Nicholas Clegg will be honour-bound to raise Gillian Duffy to the Lords. (The Daily Beast)

¶ Vespers: At Survival of the Book, Brian writes about a satire of the publishing biz, Steve Hely’s How I Became a Famous Novelist. (Clever young man writes bilge-worthy tripe that enjoys phenomenal sales.) He doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

¶ Compline: Make a point, over the weekend, of reading Janet Malcolm’s “Iphigenia in Forest Hills,” currently behind the paywall at The New Yorker. (We strongly recommend begging subscriber friends for a discarded copy of the May 3 issue.) Ms Malcolm clearly believes that the trial was a miscarriage of justice, but the thrust of her piece is to show how likely such miscarriages are, given our still quite sexist way of doing the justice business. “Iphigenia in Forest Hills” will almost certainly hold forever a high place in this writer’s remarkably clear-sighted reportage.

Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, April 29th, 2010


¶ Matins: When you’ve read Amanda Bensen’s review of a new paperback about the orange juice biz, you may agree with us that the only acceptable alternative to squeezing your own is doing without. (Smithsonian; via MetaFilter)

¶ Lauds: Writing about the William Eggleston exhibition, “Democratic Camera,” which has reached Chicago, Ken Tanaka has three good tips for visitors. We’re particularly drawn to the second, which emphasizes the role of Mr Eggleston’s body of work on the appreciation of individual photographs. (The Online Photographer)

¶ Prime: In an entry at his New Yorker blog, John Cassidy explains why we saw the subprime mortgage crisis coming even though the bankers didn’t: we didn’t (and don’t) understand the first thing about risk models. (via Felix Salmon)

¶ Tierce: Carl Zimmer reports on “deep homology,” the appearance of similar clusters of genes across widely different species that do the same sort of things. For example, one module enables yeast cells to fix cell walls, and human beings to create blood vessels. Mysteries remain! (NYT)

¶ Sext: Jimmy Chen explains the many different flavors of “editor,” at HTMLGIANT. (“It just seems like a bunch of people calling one another fancy names.”)(via The Rumpus)

¶ Nones: Tired of worrying about Greece? Consider Hungary, where an authoritarian administration is about to take office while the value of the forint plummets. Edward Hugh has seen this coming, but what’s the satisfaction of that?. (A Fistful of Euros)

¶ Vespers:  Vespers: In a short but poignant piece, Cindy Jane Cho, currently doing NGO work in Namibia, reads three books, two of them celebrated (The Catcher in the Rye and Middlemarch), one of them utterly unknown to us. The entry bears the unmistakable pong of yearning youth. (The Millions)

¶ Compline: As part of its valuable Backlist series, The Second Pass publishes Lila Garnett’s impressive review of Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s The Culture of Defeat: On Trauma, Mourning and Recovery, a book that is currently out of print. Never mind: Ms Garnett’s cogent paragraphs spell out an important message: defeat is bad for everyone, even winners. Is anything as toxic as the thirst for revenge?

Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010


¶ Matins: The “culture” at Goldman Sachs gets the gimlet treatment from Choire Sicha and John Lanchester. Choire laughs at the “horn-blowers” whose self-reviews were aired in the Senate, while John compares the testifying executives to the hooligans who cheer for the Millwall FC. (“No one likes us/We don’t care!”)

¶ Lauds: Ann  Midgette continues her campaign to improve classical audiences by urging President Obama to set an example by not worrying about “when to clap.” She has some really good ideas about how to proceed, the excellence of which we’ll discuss some other time.

¶ Prime: Leave it to Luxury Bob to explain the libertarian nature of progressive income tax. (NYT)

¶ Tierce: Did we say “culture” in connection with Goldman? Jonah Lehrer writes about the enculturation problem: we see what we’re taught to see.

¶ Sext: Every now and then, somebody distills a drop of the true oddness of Manhattan Island in a New York Times story. “Too Fancy? Too Long? How to Name a Co-op,” by Christine Haughney, is merely the latest instance of Gothamdipity. We do wish that Ms Haughney had a clearer understanding of the rule that names are all very well for buildings on the West Side of Central Park.

¶ Nones: What’s going to happen to Greece? A short piece about geopolitical destiny to open your sinuses from A Fistful of Euros, followed by Felix Salmon’s discouraged report of poolside talk at an LA bond conference.

¶ Vespers: Brooks Peters looks into Patrick Hamilton as only Brooks Peters can. Proving my point, by the way, that only intelligent gay critics can be bothered to doubt the homosexuality of fellow-travelers. What if Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope were all about incest?

¶ Compline: “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Power Point.” Elisabeth Bumiller’s latest chapter in the story about the nonsense of wartime bureaucracy (and, in particularly, the preposterous unintelligibility of the flow-chart shown below) must bring joy to a self-published Yale man. (Identity disclosed upon request.)

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010


¶ Matins: At the risk of playing with paradoxes, we submit that, buried in plain sight in the following extract from Jill Lepore’s Letter from Boston, “Tea and Sympathy,” there is an indictment of the largely liberal academic class — an indictment not from the right or from the left, but from the point of view of engaged humanism. (The New Yorker)

¶ Lauds: Toni Bentley has her hip replaced, and comes to terms with the arthritis that ended her City Ballet career when she was still a young woman. She also learns what you do with bones to keep them from going rancid. (NYRBlog)

¶ Prime: For some reason, the idea of self-financing the Securities and Exchange Commission — funding staff and operations with fines and fees would double its budget — has just moved Tyler Cowen to consider the idea. He sees some pros, but more cons. (Marginal Revolution) The Epicurean Dealmaker made the case for self-financing in March.

¶ Tierce: Fight or flight: a guy thing? Looks like it. Ingrid Wickelgren reports at Scientific American.

¶ Sext: In case you’ve been hoping that the story would just go away, David Carr wrote a thoughtful piece about it over the weekend: “Monetizing an iPhone Spectacle.” Quaere: is a news story a commodity? Perhaps it’s better to ask if a news story is actually involved in this case. (NYT)

¶ Nones: Todd Cowell and Joshua Kurlantzick agree that intercession by Thailand’s King Bhumibol would probably not quell the Red Shirts’ insurgency. Mr Cowell traces chilling similarities between Thailand today and Spain in 1936. Interestingly, it’s difficult to assess the one difference that he locates — is it a good thing or a bad thing?

¶ Vespers: What Jill Lepore calls presentism (above), Patrick Kurp calls temporal parochialism. (Anecdotal Evidence)

¶ Compline: There’s a first time for everything, and this one is sweet to read about: Emily Guerin takes her first train ride along the Northeast Corridor, from Boston’s South Station to Washington’s Union Station. It’s a strange kind of sightseeing, to be sure. (The Bygone Bureau)

Daily Office: Friday

Friday, April 23rd, 2010


¶ Matins: “Social scientists do counterinsurgency” — an important overview by Nicholas Lemann. Effective measures are very important, of course; and General Petraeus, among others, reminds us that thinking big is rarely effective. Beyond trying to decide how to respond to terrorism, however, there lies the problem of sovereign integrity: of the four Middle-East nations that are currently on the boil, the only one strong enough to suppress terrorism is Iran, perhaps our most mortal enemy.

¶ Lauds: A word on that fringe theatre in London that has sent two productions to Broadway — showing in theatres on opposite sides of West 48th Street. David Babani and the (Menier) Chocolate Factory. (LA Times; via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: Since it’s Friday, we’re only too happy to let Michael Lewis itemize, with his trademark clarity and coherence, three game-changing effects of the SEC’s Goldman Sachs case. His peroration will be widely cited:

Indeed, the social effects of the SEC’s action will almost certainly be greater than the narrow legal ones. Just as there was a time when people could smoke on airplanes, or drive drunk without guilt, there was a time when a Wall Street bond trader could work with a short seller to create a bond to fail, trick and bribe the ratings companies into blessing the bond, then sell the bond to a slow-witted German without having to worry if anyone would ever know, or care, what he’d just done.

The part that we especially like, though, is Mr Lewis’s clear-headed appraisal of the ACA problem, which amounts to recognizing that there is an ACA problem, sticking to Goldman’s coattails like a bad smell. (Bloomberg; via Felix Salmon)

¶ Tierce: Two economists at Emory, Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, have developed a thesis that social tolerance of homosexuality correlates to low rates of HIV infection. If this is true, then the social price of religious opposition to homosexuality increases sharply. (via Marginal Revolution)

¶ Sext: Two of our friends, Patricia Storms and George Snyder, have recently blogged about books in their lives. In Patricia’s case, this is a matter of creating an inviting library in her Bloor West Village home (and framing some nifty Penguin-cover postcards). George writes about the well-timed appearance in his life of Michael Holroyd’s biography of Lytton Strachey, which came out in 1967.

¶ Nones: How Toomas Ilves, the president of Estonia, grounded like everyone else, drove home from Istanbul. (NYT)

¶ Vespers: Ken Auletta’s essay about Amazon, the big six book publishers, and the “agency model” — occasioned by the arrival of the iPad — would seem to quell any fears that the giants of Siliconia are ever going to do (or do without) the work of conventional publishers. (The New Yorker)

¶ Compline: Garrison Keillor argues that, notwithstanding the claims of sociobiology, young men really ought to text less and talk more. We can only add that the locked-up demeanor of many intelligent young people makes us worry that we’re living at the wrong end of the Matrix. (IHT)

Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010


¶ Matins: Sabrina Tavernise writes about the microcosm of Pakistani confusion that threatens the University of the Punjab. (NYT)

¶ Lauds: Ann Midgette’s good time at a recent triple bill of Terrence McNally plays about opera ended, as good times so often do, with a hangover. (Washington Post; via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: The Epicurean Dealmaker surfaces to pronounce rough justice on Goldman Sachs. As for the SEC lawsuit, “the criteria which ultimately determine the nature of Goldman’s alleged offense will be legalistic ones, akin to judging exactly how many mortgage CDO investors’ brains can be fitted onto the head of a pin.” But the firm’s reputation is toast.

¶ Tierce: Carl Zimmer brings us up to date on the zombification of cockroaches by Ampulex compressa. Come on, the zombification of cockroaches has to be a good thing, right? (Discover/The Loom; via 3 Quarks Daily)

¶ Sext: “That was no critic; that was my wife!” Orlando Figes, a leading British academic specializing in Russian studies, announced that the author of some rather nasty online reviews of books by other specialists in Russian studies was none other than his wife, senior law lecturer (Cambridge) Stephanie Palmer. Professor Figes says that he “only just found out.” (Guardian; via Brainiac)

¶ Nones: Russia’s need to rent a Black Sea naval station from Ukraine is the result of bad imperialist map-making (the Soviet empire’s, in this case), but all is sweetness and light at the moment, because the new president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, is a good friend to Moscow. But wait — the Ukrainian opposition challenges his authority to make nice. (NYT)

¶ Vespers: John Self unearths yet another interesting-sounding novel that we had never heard of, Keith Waterhouse’s Billy Liar (1959). (Asylum)

¶ Compline: New novelist Deanna Fei writes a drolly bittersweet memoir about how she found her book when she stopped worrying about herself — while discovering that “Chinese American” is a lot more alien in China than it is in the United States. They knew that she wasn’t Chinese (appearances to the contrary notwithstanding), and they didn’t believe that she was American. (The Millions)

Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010


¶ Matins: What it means to be Jewish — to Tony Judt, a decidedly non-observant non-supporter of Israel. (NYRB)

¶ Lauds: From the Arts Journal, two pleasant bits of news about painters and paintings. First, the view from Edward Hopper’s Cape Cod studio will be preserved, undefiled by a McMansion. Second, Picasso’s The Actor is back on the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The canvas was accidentally torn in January, and conservator Lucy Belloli talked to the Times about her remedial work.

¶ Prime: Although very complicated, Felix Salmon’s comparison of the Goldman Sachs Abacus deal (which prompted the SEC to launch criminal proceedings) and the Magnetar Auriga deal is well worth trying to grasp. It is very likely that a new — or newly clear — understanding of market fraud is going to emerge from the Goldman Sachs case.

¶ Tierce: It turns out that the ban on flying through the residue of volcanic activity is blunt and quite unscientific. (NewScientist)

¶ Sext: The Awl celebrates its first birthday!

¶ Nones: Arguing that Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg comes off as less posh than Conservative David Cameron, Sholto Byrnes makes disparaging remarks about Euro headquarters in Brussels (“deeply dull-sounding“). At A Fistful of Euros, Jamie Kenny rebuts. (“It was more fun that that.“)

¶ Vespers: Marion Maneker is quite unimpressed by the clout that independent booksellers claim to have brought to bear in advancing Paul Harding’s Tinkers to Pulitzer Prize-winning status. (Slate/Big Money; via The Millions)

¶ Compline: Listening to the radio in France, says Richard Goldstein, is a lot more interesting than it is here. To be sure, it wasn’t always. (NAJP ARTicles; via   Marginal Revolution)

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010


¶ Matins: Even though she was flying from Tokyo to New York, Melissa Lafsky encountered fallout from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption “every stretch of the trip.” (The Infrastructurist)

¶ Lauds: Sean Shepherd’s entry at NewMusicBox does not persuade us that the young composer will have a second career as a man of letters, but we applaud his spirited defense of the Philharmonic program that will launch one of his works. Not to mention this vivid snapshot of Gotham’s lyric fertility. (via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: Our official position, as brokers of information, is to counsel all readers to familiarize themselves with the facts (such as they are) of the SEC suit against Goldman Sachs. It is a prototype of kind of “business as usual” case that can lead to the redefinition and restructuring of rights and responsibilities in a market that has been looking at fumes where the mirror ought to be. Felix Salmon has posted mightily on the topic, but we’ll follow his lead to a sharp entry by Brad De Long on the materiality of John Paulson’s role in the CDO’s formation.

¶ Tierce: The Climate Desk launches at Wired Science with a heartening essay on global warming by Clive Thompson. What’s to hearten? The simple fact that reality-based businesses are going to put doubts about the phenomenon to an end, as they struggle to adapt.

¶ Sext: Manisha Verma takes the trouble to analyze what anyone with a brain must suspect: “Internet advertising” is as insubstantial as the emperor’s new clothes. (3 Quarks Daily)

¶ Nones: Now that you’ve finally bothered to find out where Bishkek is, and where Kyrgyzstan stands in relation to the other Central Asia stans (there will be a quiz!), Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar puts the background to the ten day-old coup into ready perspective. If only they could put this thing in a box and call it “The Great Game”! (Asia Times)

¶ Vespers: A portrait of the wily Andrew Wylie, the literary agent widely credited with sulphurously Satanic powers, despite his low-key demeanor.

¶ Compline: Dave Bry apologizes yet again, this time to a former French teacher. Alas, Mr McCormack is unlikely to be altogether appeased. We have highlighted the offending passage in black. (The Awl)

“D’ou venez vous…”

“Je suis Nicoise,” you said, with a quizzical expression. “Je suis originaire de Nice.”

Daily Office: Friday

Friday, April 16th, 2010


¶ Matins: Regarding the future of children’s books (about which Boomers et seq tend to be a lot more sentimental than actual kiddies): Not to worry! Jason Kottke assures us that children’s books in print will be the very last to go, notwithstanding the blandishments of the iPad Alice. He tells us so in his response to Kevin Rose’s despairing tweet.

¶ Lauds: Here’s the finish of a (Murdoch Era!) Wall Street Journal story that Renée Fleming hopes that you won’t finish. (via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: On our first visit to EConned, we discover the Rahm Emanuel parallax. We forget what a parallax is, and Ms Smith’s entry reminds us of rubbing green twigs together in the rain, but it’s Friday, and we still feel that the Magnetar story needs to be Out There.

¶ Tierce:  Dweck’s Paradox: If you praise your child by telling her that she is smart, and she is smart, she will probably conclude that you are an idiot for saying such a thing. In New York Magazine, Po Bronson grasps how hard it is not to use the S word.

¶ Sext:  Sam Sifton has so much fun reviewing a fashionable foodery in the heart of Madison Avenue’s tenderloin that we must serve up a generous helping of extracts. The first three paragraphs are setup; go straight to the “crisp artichokes” for the truffles. But be aware that the Upper East Side is studded with places like Nello. For a reason! (NYT)

¶ Nones: As part of our Irresponsible Spring Break Friday reportage, we turn to Al Jazeera for news that some/many Poles are outraged that would-be flight director Lech Kaczynski will be buried in Krakow’s Wawel Castle. We did check the Times first, but it didn’t have a story on this vital follow-up. (via The Morning News)

¶ Vespers: It was inconceivable that Paul Harding’s Tinkers would win the Pulitzer Prize without Cinderella’s stepsisters trying to find out how it happened. Turns out to have been good, old-fashioned gatekeeping. (Globe; via Arts Journal)

¶ Compline: The elusive VX Sterne hated the vacations that his parents put him through as a child, and he vowed to do things differently when he grew up. As indeed he has, given that his family never want for showers or other creature comforts. Nevertheless, our favorite anonymous executive is characteristically haunted.

Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, April 15th, 2010


¶ Matins: The accidental death of a cyclist in Washington who was knocked down by a military vehicle attached to the nuclear security summit — has raised questions about the appropriateness of such vehicles on city streets. Matthew Yglesias is even more offended by the military’s immediate response. (via Felix Salmon)

¶ Lauds:  Leipzig’s Bach Museum, far from being a dusty attic of dubious knickknacks, centers its collection upon information, not objects. (WSJ; via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: The great promise of microfinance has attracted for-profit investors, saddling micro-borrowers with gigantic interest rates. In a Times report, Elizabeth Malkin writes of a very interesting wrinkle called “forced savings.

¶ Tierce: Tired of accumulating a lot of stuff that you lose interest in almost immediately after you’ve acquired it? A tip from the chipper folks at PsyBlog suggests that you treat your purchases as experiences rather than as things: Think experientially.

¶ Sext: A journalism student asked Felix Salmon some questions about business blogging. Naturally, the student wanted to know how it is that some business bloggers — Mr Salmon among them — acquire such a broad readership despite the lack of journalist credentials. The answer makes us wonder if journalism schools are still a good idea.

¶ Nones: Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, speaking at Johns Hopkins University, makes some remarks that might run afoul of his country’s severelèse-majesté laws. (NYT)

¶ Vespers: Complaining about the extremely rudimentary classifications in place at the iBook Store prompts Laura Miller to make some interesting observations on the importance of codicological metadata — information about books that helps us to find them. (Salon; via Arts Journal)

¶ Compline: Crowdsourcing the National Archives: that’s what AOTUS David Ferriero has in mind. But first, let’s crowdsource his idea. (Chron Higher Ed; via The Morning News)

Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010


¶ Matins: Tyler Cowen answers a question posed at EconLog: Why do colleges care about extracurricular activities, when businesses don’t? (Yes, we think that the question is interesting, too, regardless of the answer.)

¶ Lauds: James Ivory finishes the last Merchant Ivory production, an adaptation of Peter Cameron’s The City of Your Final Destination, with MI alum Anthony Hopkins.

¶ Prime: More about Magnetar from one of the men who really knows, Jim Kwak of The Baseline Scenario. Wait! There’s more. In the following paragraphs, Mr Kwak illustrates the disconnect between “performance pay” and real performance. (via Abnormal Returns)

¶ Tierce: Elementary school teachers are always talking up “creativity,” but in fact they don’t want genuinely creative students in their classrooms. Jonah Lehrer reports. 

¶ Sext: Next time a loved one threatens suicide, try the piss-off gambit, which recently saved a live in Sweden. Come to think of it, this is the sort of thing that works only in Sweden (Mail Online; via The Awl)

¶ Nones: Two views of the situation in Thailand. Joshua Kurlantzick (LRB) is not only less optimistic than Philip Bowring (IHT), but he has a significantly different take on the economy.

¶ Vespers: Terry Teachout ties up a bouquet of books that he would not care to re-read (no matter how much they affected him when he was a student) with a glance at the kind of book that he doesn’t read now. (About Last Night)

¶ Compline: At DoubleX, K J Dell’Antonia writes movingly about how close she came to following the example of Torry Hansen, and sending her little girl back to China. (via The Morning News)

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010


¶ Matins: “Asian flair” — wo-men bu savons shemma. At The Bygone Bureau, Darryl Campbell writes about the persistence of a culinary phenomenon that we really thought was dead. But then we don’t want television.

¶ Lauds: At WSJ, Eric Felten puts conductor Leonard Slatkin’s unconscionable indiscretions to good use.

¶ Prime: Just when we thought that Michael Lewis had made everything perfectly clear, along comes Magnetar, the very successful hedge fund that made sure that no trader’s shot glass was empty. (Felix Salmon)

¶ Tierce: It sounds like Nunsense 1.01. If you think that no one will ever know that you bought your (counterfeit) Gucci bag at a table on 86th Street, you’re wrong, because you will. (Not Exactly Rocket Science; via The Morning News)

¶ Sext: At WSJ, Eric Felten puts conductor Leonard Slatkin’s unconscionable indiscretions to good use.

¶ Nones: What happened in Kyrgyzstan, anyway? Was Russia possibly behind the ouster of president Kurmanbek Bakiyev? David Trilling lays it out in two crisp pages. (Foreign Affairs)

¶ Vespers: Books don’t always furnish a room; sometimes, they litter it. Maud Newton appeals to publishers to send her ebooks.

¶ Compline: Thanks to Michael Idov, we now know what a hipster Hasid will look like: Baruch Herzfeld, proprietor of the Treyf Bike Gesheft. (New York Magazine; via MetaFilter)

Daily Office: Friday

Thursday, April 8th, 2010


¶ Matins: Martin Schneider’s account of a conversation between New Yorker editor David Remnick and Ta-Nehisi Coates is interesting all round, not least for its extended peroration on the question (raised in the conversation) whether Barack Obama’s political career would have been more difficult if he had married a white woman. (Emdashes)

¶ Lauds: Jonathan Glancey visits the new Pompidou Metz museum. (Guardian; via Arts Journal)

¶ Prime: Simon Johnson puts his finger on exactly why we must not allow the development of banks that are “too big to fail.” (The Baseline Scenario; via Abnormal Returns)

¶ Tierce: We wrap up our week of hymns to the iPad with John Gruber’s exhaustive (and enthusiastic) review. (via Felix Salmon)

¶ Sext: The Editor, who is known as “Doodad” to his grandson, was delighted to find that Will’s mother is a devoted follower of Free-Range Kids, a blog kept by author (and Mom) Lenore Skenazy.

¶ Nones: A report from Moscow on events occurring very far away, in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan. Distance may explain why Clifford Levy’s account of the revolution is long on press releases.  (NYT)

¶ Vespers: A sample of Ian McEwan’s “British deadpan,” sparked by the publication of his new novel, Solar. (Speakeasy)

¶ Compline: A long, long read from New York magazine about the diva that 91st Street alum (who knew?) Stefani Joanne Germanotta has grown up to become. Vanessa Grigoriadis figures that you can make your own artistic assessment of Lady GaGa’s oeuvre; she supplies the bildung. (via