The Daily Blague

Daily Office Archives

Daily Office:
Friday, 6 November 2009


Matins: Ezra Klein (whom we only first heard about yesterday, has obtained a collection of charts that compare medical costs in the United States and elsewhere in the developed world.

The health-care reform debate has done a good job avoiding the subject of prices. The argument over the Medicare-attached public plan was, in a way that most people didn't understand, an argument about prices, but it quickly became an argument about a public option without a pricing dimension, and never really looked back.

Since the last go-round, in 1993, we have believed that health-care costs must be dealt with — or at least understood — before any intelligent plan for health-care insurance can be devised. The determination to keep costs out of the health-care discussion betrays a wealth-redistribution scheme that makes American medicine a great business to be in. You may be cool with that, but we're not. (Washington Post; via Marginal Revolution)

Lauds: Maria Popova writes about the strange mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. (Good)

The first Toynbee Tile dates back to the early 1980s. Today, more than 250 have been discovered in more than two dozen North American cities as well as in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, many inscribed with instructions to make more tiles. Even the material they’re made of was a mystery until recently, when it was determined to be a rare kind of linoleum combined with asphalt sealant.

The message itself, cryptic and seemingly nonsensical, has been the subject of much speculation, from political conspiracy theories to religious dogmatism to space-travel futurism. Most look to the obvious references for clues—Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and British historian Arnold J. Toynbee, who is best known for his 12-volume synthesis of world history, analyzing the rise and fall of civilizations.

Prime: Jay Goltz considers his entrepreneurial constitution. (You're The Boss)

Everyone talks about balance. There is no balance. Balance is perfect. There is nothing perfect in work/life balance. It is about compromise, choices and, often, regret. Here is the irony of ambition: The same ambition that drives people to be successful won’t let them enjoy being successful. They pay a terrible price for their success, as do their families, but they are never successful enough. Me? I feel successful. I didn’t always. I never felt as if I did enough, made enough or achieved my potential. I have redefined what it means to achieve my potential. Sometimes controlling your ambitions can be a good thing. Sometimes smaller is better. Grow or die is an insane war cry for entrepreneurs. Many times it is grow and die.

Tierce: In the summer of 1934, Wall Street lawyer Phelan Bouvier wrote to his wife, Edith, then summering as usual in East Hampton, to inform her of his dire economic situation. As an "Exchange Specialist," Bouvier watched as his clients were mowed down, not by the Depression, but by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

I hate like the devil to deprive little Buddy of the pleasure he gets in going horseback riding. Will you ask the boy to give up his riding until next season. The bill from the riding school came in this morning. It is $53.00. In some instances the charge for his rides were $8.00 per day, and in no one day was it less than $3.00. Do not tell the children anything that will alarm them in regard to my financial condition. They are so young that their minds receive an exaggerated and inflamed impression which may have evil effects of a permanent nature. Offer some excuse to the kids about remaining in East Hampton and attending school in South Hampton. Make a game of it, so that they will like the idea. Even with little Edie, you should not confide in her, otherwise she may think that we are headed for the poorhouse to-morrow, and it will destroy all the happiness of her year at Farmington.

Thus was the stage set for Grey Gardens. (Letters of Note)

Sext: Oy! Used caskets for sale, at craigslist. (You Suck at Craigslist)

Slightly used Caskets for sale starting at $100.00 for our simple pine up to $900 for very exquisit many to choose from, all have been cleaned and disinfected some have minor scratches, but all are in great shape. we offer free delivery in the local area, I need at least a days notice as I have to borrow my neighbors truck. Some were only used for as little as 6 months most were only in service for a year or two.

Nones: In a Milan court, 23 Americans have been convicted in absentia of kidnapping, and are considered fugitives in Italy. (NYT)

Italian prosecutors had charged the Americans and seven members of the Italian military intelligence agency in the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, on Feb. 17, 2003. Prosecutors said he was snatched in broad daylight, flown from an American air base in Italy to a base in Germany and then on to Egypt, where he asserts that he was tortured.


Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International applauded Wednesday’s ruling. In a statement, Tom Parker, Amnesty International’s United States point man for terrorism issues, called on the Obama administration to “repudiate the unlawful practice of extraordinary rendition.”

Vespers: George Pelecanos's introduction to the NYRB reprint of Don Carpenter's 1966 Hard Rain Falling has been published at The Rumpus.

While many debut novels boil and sometimes overboil with a voice edging towards manifesto, few hit their mark with such assuredness, maturity, and authority as Hard Rain Falling.  It is not, as it has been often described, a crime novel, though it does concern itself peripherally with criminals and their milieu.  I hesitate to call it either a literary or genre work because I’m not sure Mr. Carpenter would have cared about the distinction.  By his own admission he aimed to write cleanly, with his intended audience the general public rather than the gatekeepers of academia.  Hard Rain Falling is populist fiction at its best.  It is not just a good novel.  It might be the most unheralded important American novel of the 1960s.

Compline: We thought that women's residences were a thing of the past. Not so! Hilary Stout writes about the Webster Apartments, the Brandon Residence. and even a place named after Joan of Arc.

Though the Barbizon and others, such as the Parkside Evangeline on Gramercy Park, have succumbed to developers’ offers over the years, sold and remade into condos or luxury hotels, the smattering of all-female residences that remain are thriving, most with waiting lists of prospective tenants. The appeal today is not so different than it was in the past: safety, cleanliness and — especially attractive in modern-day New York — a good real estate deal.

We think that there ought to be a few residences for men, run along even stricter lines by terrifying matrons. In fact, we believe that all single young men in the city ought to start out in urban boot camps that teach table-manners alongside the shoe-shining. (NYT)

Bon weekend à tous!

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