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27 November 2009


Matins: On the banks of a faraway sea, Muscato connects.

Most of all, though, I'm more than ever aware of and thankful for all the connections that knit the world together - ones like family, which can often be as painful as they are joyful; friends, old, new, actual, virtual; and all the others - social, political, technological, physical, you name it. We live in this bizarre world in which something written at the far edge of the Arabian peninsula can instantly be read in places as far apart as Pakistan, Queensland, and Quebec (just to pick three Gentle Readers who've stopped by the Cafť in the past hour or so). We deal with high-school friends five thousand miles away as easily as we do colleagues the next office over. And we have to be as aware of what's going on in places like Mumbai, Beijing, and Manila (to choose the top three stories just now on Google world news) in order to figure out our lives as our grandparents did the three nearest towns.

Lauds: Terry Teachout really likes The Starry Messenger, Kenneth Lonergan's new play.

Now "The Starry Messenger" has opened Off Broadway, preceded by a string of alarming reports suggesting that Mr. Lonergan and his cast had a rocky time in rehearsal. No doubt they did, but you wouldn't know it from seeing the finished product. Like "You Can Count on Me," the 2000 film that first brought its author-director to the attention of a national audience, "The Starry Messenger" is an engrossing study of the toll that prolonged disappointment exacts on the human spirit, performed with consummate skill by an ensemble cast led by Matthew Broderick and staged with unassuming finesse by Mr. Lonergan himself.

As the author of a hit book at the moment, Mr Teachout is probably going to garnish somewhat more attention than he might otherwise do. Bravo!

Prime: Felix Salmon finds a great chart illustrating the debt of Dubai.

Personally, Iím quite happy about this default, since it sets another very useful precedent of a state-owned company defaulting on its debt. Historically investors in state-owned companies have perceived an implicit sovereign guarantee ó thereís even a German word for it, Anstaltslast. The result is a huge and unhelpful moral-hazard trade.

Tierce: Why the United States is even more medieval than the Holy Roman Empire, and has been, since FDR at least. (Letters of Note)

Please understand that all of us interested in the administration of intercollegiate athletics realize that there are considerations and problems before the country for solution which are far more important than the schedule problems of intercollegiate athletics. However, some of us are confronted with the problem of readjusting the date of any football contest affected by the President's proposal.

As soon as I read of the President's proposal, I advised our Graduate Manager in charge of schedule making simply to mark time pending further public pronouncement by the President as to the definiteness of his proposal. I thought that there might be a change of mind on his part following such public comment which has been made in the press. However, time is slipping past and if it is necessary for us to make arrangements for changing the date of our game this year, we should be taking steps very shortly to make such change effective and to make public announcement with regard to it.

Sext: If there was ever proof that this is not one country indivisible under God, it's in the food. But there is one thing that we all have in common:

The extremely high search volume on Wednesday means many people were making menu and shopping decisions at the last minute.

ďAs a snapshot of America,Ē said Tanya Wenman Steel, the editor in chief of Epicurious, ďit shows that people arenít planning.Ē

Nones: We thought that the Irish priest problem was dealt with ages ago. Apparently not. My good Catholic wife is mad as hell at Benedict XVI, and contrapuntally so. First, of course, this ought to have never happened. Second, what a distraction it all is from caring for the poor and hungry. From the Times story:

The report rejected past bishops' key claim that they were ignorant of both the scale and criminality of priests' abuse of children, showing that the Dublin Archdiocese negotiated a 1987 insurance policy for future legal costs of defending lawsuits and compensation claims.

Vespers: Christopher Tayler says that Stefanie Marsh's interview with James Ellroy "is a minor classic of the genre" ó doubtless because Ellroy himself will never be major. (TimesOnline; via LRB)

Probably wisely, his new partner terminated the relationship and Ellroy swiftly found himself relocating to New York. One hardly needs to ask why. ďAt a reading performance I had spoken to a woman for two minutes. And, why not? Why not move 500 miles because thereís some woman you met for two minutes in a chaste conversation?Ē

Well, I could think of plenty of reasons. None of these remotely fazed her new paramour: ďItís just this motif, I always tend to get what I want, and all Iíve ever wanted was to write great books, live a big life, know God and commune with women of great substance. And Iím disarming. Itís not an unreasonable goal if you look at it from a certain standpoint. I donít want to be President of the United States. I donít want to be a rockíníroll star. I donít want to chase showgirls or do anything stupid like that.Ē In the end the relationship didnít work out but the pair are still friends and she also went on to become a central character in the book.

Compline: New cases of AIDS are down this year by 17%.

However, it's not all good news. Although the number of AIDS-related deaths has fallen by 10 per cent, better survival rates mean more people are living with HIV than ever before. Around 2.7 million people were infected with HIV in 2008, bringing the total number of cases to 33.4 million.

With all the other stuff going on in the world, let's not forget about this. It's still a terrible shock. (Short Sharp Science)

Bon weekend ŗ tous!

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