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Daily Office:


18 November, 2009


Matins: Monica Howe writes about a problem that appears to be on the increase: drive-by porn and its variants. You're sitting in some sort of traffic, minding your own business, when the guy next to you.... (Washington Post; via The Morning News)

Perhaps this is the real problem: the increasingly blurred boundary between public and private. If we are so accustomed to burying our noses in tiny screens, carrying our entertainment in and out of the house, perhaps people are simply getting confused as to where they are.

That boundary has been blurring steadily for the past ten years or more, abraded not by tiny screens but by tiny phones. The things we hear people saying into the mobiles while walking down busy New York sidewalks amazes us — mostly for the abominable conceit of its presumption. The phone company that ran that "Make the World Your Living Room" ought to socked with a class action for the infliction of privacy.

Lauds: Yasmina Reza, in town to promote her directorial début, Chicas, with Emmanuelle Seignier — and to catch the first cast's final performance of God of Carnage — talks to Speakeasy about all of that, and her friendship with Ms Seignier's husband, Roman Polanski.

Well, I am not disappointed, I am very sad for him, which is quite different. He’s a friend, and he’s 76. It’s a difficult moment for him. And I’ve known him for 20 years (they worked together when he performed in her adaptation of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” which he’d asked her to write) and I always knew him with Emmanuelle and then with the children. … It’s a difficult situation. I understand that the course of justice has to go. There is no question of that. I have no qualifications for saying anything about the case, but just as a friend, I’m just sad with the situation. I’m not disappointed because I am waiting for him.

Prime: Felix Salmon continues the debt-bias discussion, evaluating two reasons not to tax interest payments, and, not surprisingly, dismissing them even when he agrees with supporting arguments. (That's what makes this discussion so interesting.)

I agree with Megan [McArdle] that implementing this tax “would make companies that do use debt finance much more risky”. That's the whole point. We want to move away from over-reliance on debt finance, and towards a world where equity finance becomes much more common and much more boring. If investors want to leverage corporate profits with debt they can do so themselves, by buying stock on margin. But let's not implement the leverage at the corporate level, where it's imposed on even the most risk-averse equity investor.

Tierce: The extraordinary Mandelbulb. We've been so hynotized by the latest in fractals that we've neglected to share.

Sext: What to read next? Well, you could let your dreams determine the title — if you were Philip K Dick and strong enough to read "the dullest book in the world." (Letters of Note)

For three months, virtually every night, I've had these dreams involving written material. And within the last few days it became obvious that a specific book was indicated. That the ultimate purpose of these dreams was to call my attention to an actual book somewhere in the real world, which I was to find, then take down and read.....

Of course the possibility existed that I didn't have the book in my library, that I would have to go out and buy it. In several dreams I was in a bookstore doing just that. One time the book was help open before me with its pages singed by fire on all sides. By that I took it to be an extremely sacred book, perhaps the one seen in the Book of Daniel.

Continuing evidence that dreams are nonsense, and that that is the point of dreams.

Nones: With a grim sort of relief, we note that intransigence is still the prevailing note in Honduran politics. (BBC News)

The US helped to broker a power-sharing deal between Mr Zelaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti, but the accord collapsed earlier this month.

Mr Zelaya warned last weekend that he would not return to the presidency if Congress voted to restore him after the elections. He said doing so would legitimise his removal from office in June.

His term of office is due to end in January.

After all, if one side or the other backed down, there would have been no reason to put the good people of Honduras through an expensive crisis. We realize that we're begging for violence. If April's non-violent coup has accomplished nothing else, it has reminded us deposed rulers rarely just go away. If you want to be rid of them, you have to — lock them up, at least.

Vespers: Terry Teachout encounters a stack of his new book(s), Pops, at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side. He registers his reaction as closer to Mencken than to Hindemith. (About Last Night)

While anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm the least blasé of people, I suppose it's inevitable that such experiences should sooner or later cease to be exciting to the professional writer. Dostoevsky said it: "Man gets used to everything--the beast!" It's been a long time since I got a charge out of seeing my name in print. Even so, I have yet to reach the level of detachment attained by Paul Hindemith when he decided that he was too busy to attend the world premiere of his Symphonia Serena in Dallas in 1947. "Why should I go to hear my own works?" he said to a friend.

Mencken wrote that the thrill of seeing his name in print for the first time was more than "a barrel of brandy and 100,000 volts of electricity" could produce.

Compline: Two lawyers from the Genomics Law Report consider the "intriguing question" of how personal DNA data might be handled in the event (an event in Iceland) of a direct-to-consumer's genomics company's going bankrupt. Bottom line:

4. So What Does It All Mean? If the company's policy clearly permits the sale of genomic information in the kind of transaction that could be consummated in a bankruptcy case, then such a sale can go forward. But if the policy prohibits such a sale, or if the policy is unclear or does not address the subject at all, a transfer may still take place--subject to the ins and outs of bankruptcy law, including provisions specifically applicable to personal information.

(Genetic Future; via Short Sharp Science)

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