Daily Office: Monday


¶ Matins: Why do we all feel that the failure of Lehman Brothers is so much worse than everything that has happened before, from Black Monday (1987) to the collapse of Enron? Why do we suspect that, this time, the disaster may engulf us?

¶ Tierce: Floyd Norris on lax financial regulation:

Those who were complaining, only months ago, that excessive regulation was making American markets uncompetitive, had it exactly wrong. It was a lack of regulation of the shadow financial system and its players that allowed this to happen. The regulators might not have gotten it right if they had tried to put limits on leverage, or assure that it was clear what risks were being taken, in the world of derivatives and securitizations. But deciding not to even try, and assuming that risks traded secretly would somehow end up in the hands of those most able to bear them, reflected ideology, not analysis.

¶ Sext: Read about Palisade Prep, a new public high school in Yonkers, funded in part by the Gates Foundation, that aims to send every student to college.

Rosa Kastsaridis, whose 15-year-old son, Frank, is a ninth grader at the school, said the available counseling was an important factor in her decision to take a chance on a promising — but untested — school.

“I graduated from the Yonkers school system 17 years ago and wasn’t able to get a scholarship because the guidance counselor at that time was not educated enough to help me,” she said.

¶ Compline: Today’s one of those days when reading about the horreurs du jour through the elegant francophonie of Jean Ruaud’s Mnémoglyphes is like a comfort from the Psalms.


§ Matins. And why does it all seem to work for the Republicans — the engineers of this chaos — instead of against them?

I will be seeing a skin cancer surgeon on Wednesday. Whether or not I act on what he tells me, I’m going to ask whether I can die without pain if I do nothing to counteract the tumors. Right now, I am ready to leave this world to the Republican jackals. Let them merrily destroy everything without me.

§ Tierce. Ideology makes people stupid. Get with the program — and stop thinking. We used to laugh at Russians who castrated their minds with a Procrustean Marxism that never explained anything. At least they had the excuse of doing so at gunpoint.

Throughout the market ballyhoo of the past quarter-century (I can still remember when things took off in August 1982), one risk that few traders have dared to run is the risk of missing out on the par-tay.

§ Sext. But will the kids come back to Yonkers?

Yonkers was the landscape of my childhood nightmares. I don’t remember anything very clearly, but I do recall regular trips to the CYO indoor pool before I was in first grade. Yonkers was both dreary and tough, and I had a mortal fear of being abandoned there. I already knew that I could never get used to a shabby environment: I would always be aware of it and I would always want to change it. The landscape of indifference may be as humanly natural as any other, but it is the most malignant landscape this side of a camp’s barbed wire.

§ Compline. The fact that someone far away pays attention and cares, in an intelligent way, about this country of ours is a refreshment that makes me very glad indeed that I decided, a few years ago, to turn my fumbling grasp of French into a personal asset.