Daily Office: Wednesday


¶ Matins: Michelle Haimoff proposes a pay scale for HuffPost contributors. 

¶ Lauds: Nige makes me wish that I were in London, to see the Corot to Monet show.

¶ Prime: Carol Smith, an SVP at Elle, claims that women make better managers. Even better, she hates single-sex workplaces.

¶ Tierce: A Web log devoted to bookmarks found in old books (!) reminds us of telegrams at weddings. How old, we wonder, is the youngest person to remember this feature of wedding receptions? (via MetaFilter)

¶ Sext: Steven Heller explains the test pattern.

¶ Nones: An update from the country that can’t: Kurdistan.

¶ Vespers: “It’s enjoyable if you like reading Nexis printouts” — Nicholson Baker on the Kindle DX.

¶ Compline: Drake Bennett reports on some recent studies of attention deficits in older drivers — and how older drivers compensate. (via The Morning News)


§ Matins. Eventually, writers will have to be paid, and Ms Haimoff’s idea seems reasonable. She writes that her plan is a little bit complicated, but given that computers will do all the calculating (and checking those calculations!),  the complexity of a scheme won’t be the problem.

Editorial quality would be a factor in certain compensations, and here’s how Ms Haimoff would determine it:

Initially The Huffington Post would select 200 bloggers to nominate three articles that they deem to be of superior editorial quality that month (a story that is well-written, timely, original, etc.). They will list their first, second and third choices, in case more than one blogger nominates the same article. Bloggers will not be permitted to nominate their own articles. The August winners will nominate the September articles, the September winners will nominate the October articles, and so on.

To me, the problem is that the entire revenue stream depends upon advertising. I like to think that the effectiveness of advertising (as we know it) will be negligible at sites such as HuffPost.

§ Lauds. I need a better National Gallery catalogue. The period covered by the show, which fills four “densely hung” rooms, is represented by four pages in my cheapo LettsGuide.

§ Prime. It all comes down to focus and attentiveness.

A. In my experience, female bosses tend to be better managers, better advisers, mentors, rational thinkers. Men love to hear themselves talk. I’m so generalizing. I know I am. But in a couple of places I’ve worked, I would often say, “Call me 15 minutes after the meeting starts and then I’ll come,” because I will have missed all the football. I will have missed all the “what I did on the golf course.” I will miss the four jokes, and I can get into the meeting when it’s starting.

Men also, they’re definitely better on the “whatever” side. Things tend to roll off their back. We women take things very personally. We’re constantly playing things over in our head — “What did that mean when they said that?” — when they mean nothing. And I’m certainly not immune to this. So there’s a downside to women.

Is it possible that the office is just too placid to engage the male mind?

§ Tierce. The best man reading out a bunch of telegrams from people you’d never heard of, regretting their absence and sending best wishes and congratulations &c. I thought that I would check our copy of Emily Post for the correct etiquette — but our edition dates from the 1970s, by which time telegrams were a thing of the past.

§ Sext. Just in case you’re wondering what a test pattern is. The lovely music comes from Borodin’s String Quartet No. 2; part of it was adapted for a Broadway show as the song “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads.”

§ Nones. According to a Kurd-region constitution that Baghdad isn’t happy with — well, never mind, because there’s already Kurdish opposition to it as well. Newly elected president of the semi-autonomous rump of Iraq, Massoud Barzani is twirling his strongman moustache.

With the two parties expected to remain firmly in control of Parliament, Mr. Barzani said that no one has the two-thirds majority needed to redraft the document.

“The new Parliament has no right to redraft the constitution,” he said. “It is over.”

Mr. Barzani said he welcomed the emergence of an opposition movement like Gorran, but issued a warning to those who might interpret it as a loosening of the grip of the two parties that control the region’s security forces, economy and patronage network.

“If any regional country or even Baghdad interferes in an internal matter, or any individual inside the region conspires against the region’s security and well-being,” he said, “actions will be taken in accordance with the law against those who want to undermine the unity of the Kurdish house.”


§ Vespers. He continues, almost savagely:

Sometimes whole articles and op-ed contributions aren’t there. Three pieces from the July 8, 2009, print edition of the Times—Adam Nagourney on Sarah Palin’s resignation, Alessandra Stanley on Michael Jackson’s funeral, and David Johnston on the civil rights of detainees—were missing from the Kindle edition, or at least I haven’t managed to find them (they’re available free on the Times Web site); the July 9th Kindle issue lacked the print edition’s reporting on interracial college roommates and the infectivity rates of abortion pills. I checked again on July 20th and 21st: Verlyn Klinkenborg’s appreciation of Walter Cronkite was absent, as was a long piece on Mongolian shamanism.

The Kindle DX ($489) doesn’t save newspapers; it diminishes and undercuts them—it kills their joy. It turns them into earnest but dispensable blogs.

§ Compline. Young drivers are dangerous because they have almost no idea of “working within their capacities.”

What the brain tells us when tested in the crucible of driving is that even the sharpest thinkers have limits, and that husbanding mental resources is important. The skills that aging drivers learn are reflected in the rest of their lives as well – older people, for example, do better than younger ones when psychologists give them “real-world” prospective memory tests, such as remembering to call a phone number at a particular time on a particular day. That’s because older people, cognizant of the gaps in their memory, are more careful to do things like write a reminder in their calendar or put a note up on the refrigerator. Working within our capacities, it turns out, is an astute strategy no matter what we’re trying to get our brain to do. It’s a lesson that transcends the realm of neurology and starts to sound a lot like wisdom.