Daily Office:
Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Matins¶ It’s not so much who (Nick Hornby) as what is behind Hoxton’s Monster Supply Shop: the London correlative to 826 Valencia, the flagship of Dave Egger’s fleet of after-school literacy enhancement centers. In London, it’s the Ministry of Stories, and the well-polished modesty of Mr Hornby’s account at FT does not obscure his contribution to the project. (We’d probably be killed for putting it that way, but we’re on vacation.) (via 3 Quarks Daily)

Lauds¶ In a fine jeremiad that, in lesser hands, would be overkill, Chris Lehmann hurls the shattering wisdom of Max Weber at the celebrity accumulators of kidcult dreck featured in the current issue of Vanity Fair.It would be stupid to complain that Mr Lehmann is cranky, because jeremiads are supposed to be cranky. Not that we expect Amy Sedaris won’t be pleased, but, gee, she gets off with a much lighter spanking than “tedious Upper East Side candy baron Dylan Lauren.” (Somebody really ought to have urged the baroness to pine after bedsheets other than her dad’s.) “After all, as the consummate sociological professionals at Conde Nast remind us, yesterday’s stable of meticulously choreographed taste preferences are merely fodder for tomorrow’s ironically packaged crafts-for-the-poor insta-book.” (The Awl)

Prime¶ We”ll be damned if we can think of a more eloquent denunciation of the soulless agglomeration of local businesses — most of it written in the villain’s own hand — than Thomas Cox’s tale of the client whom he had to advise not to buy a cord of firewood for her soon-to-be-repossessed home. With its crap talk of “committing to providing excellent service” and “responding to your concerns with quality integrity,” Key Bank’s inhumanity makes us wonder if genuine robots would be worse. Mr Cox is the attorney who elicited confessions of “robo-signing” from a GMAC functionary earlier this year. (Naked Capitalism)

Tierce¶ Maria Popova writes up the findings of a new Pew study on marriage, which, as you’ve already elsewhere, is taking on a class-bound coloration, favored by the educated by shunned or indefinitely postponed by the proles. We like the summation that Ms Popova claims that she would make if she were cruder: “So, Americans are still sexist homophobes who believe money buys happiness and human beings are innately evil.” (Brain Pickings)

Sext¶ In a piece that’s much too amusing for Prime, Felix Salmon throws us two tasty bones: Benjamin Wey, soi-disant China finance expert, and 5WPR, a flacketeria that Gawker has been following. The moral of the story? “You really shouldn’t listen to people quoted in the media just because they’re quoted in the media.” But you knew that, right?

Nones¶ What is the French for “brain drain“? You won’t hear us crowing that American higher education is so much better than French higher education that fully 27% of those who left France for the United States from 1996 to 2006 have been academics. You probably won’t see us shedding any tears for France, either. You will see us doubled over at this claim, made by an economist whose only regret is that he didn’t cross the Atlantic sooner: “US universities are havens of knowledge.” Havens — that’s the very word that comes to our lips when we think of Columbia and MIT. (Warning: given that this story appeared The New York Times — albeit based on a study by the Institut Montaigne in Paris — it may be debunked as a “nonstory” any minute now by The Nytpicker.)

Vespers¶ We think that Darin Strauss does a great job of handling the delicate issues of privacy and honesty that bedevil the writing of memoirs, and maybe you will, too, after you’ve read Sari Botton’s interview with the author at The Rumpus — although we must caution that the book itself, Half a Life, is inevitably more satisfying. “She was well liked and pretty, but she wasn’t the prom queen, and it was disrespectful, I think, to pretend she was because that, because that’s mourning someone who didn’t exist.”

Compline¶ A jaundiced view, possibly tendentious, of the “Chinese middle class,” dismissed in this article from the Japanese magazine, Sentaku, as a “mirage” created by the Communist Party that is “on the verge of disintegrating.” (via Real Clear World)

Have a Look

¶ Slimbo’s roof (eave).

¶ Corona: the morning rush. (MTA; via The Infrastructurist) In other subway news…

¶ Bernhardt-Sessions show at Cuchifritos: “Milk is the Morandi Message.” Cheese shop next door. (ArtCat)


¶ The Better Business Bureau: A ratings agency for the people! (Weakonomics)