Thursday, July 13th, 2017
Trump: The Art of the Deal
Donald Trump with Tony Schwartz
This chatty, self-serving, very likeable book is arguably necessary reading today, now that the man has climbed to the pinnacle of life.
In buying the Commodore Hotel in midtown Manhattan, his first major success, he had to juggle getting the money from the bankers and permission from the city (though the book’s account glosses over the help he received from his father calling in favors). Each step forward with one party in the deal encouraged progress with another party. This iteration seems to me a fundamental part of the art of the deal: aiming higher than seems reasonable, bringing multiple parties to something they would never have come to otherwise, then inching forward by presenting progress with one party to another party to create confidence, iterating until everyone is aboard.
A must-read coda to the book is the July 2016 New Yorker article with the equally-billed ghostwriter Tony Schwartz wherein Schwartz expresses huge concern about the man he knows well.
Monday, July 10th, 2017
Friday, July 7th, 2017
In a large study of US military veterans, researchers “consistently found a significant association between PPI (proton pump inhibitor) use and increased risk of death”. They don’t know why this happens but do know that “PPI treatment impairs lysosomal acidification and proteostasis and results in increased oxidative stress, dysfunction, telomere shortening and accelerated senescence of human endothelial cells.” [via The New York Times]
Wednesday, July 5th, 2017
Tuesday, July 4th, 2017
Monday, July 3rd, 2017
Giancarlo Esposito talks with Slant Magazine about, among other things, how he created Gustavo Fring. “So part of what I began to do in Breaking Bad was to use my ease of expression—my breathing in and out, my yoga practice—to drop my natural personality. So that I would be calm and relaxed and allow myself to witness a little bit.”
Saturday, July 1st, 2017
In a bookstore this thriller paperback jumped out at me due to its familiarity; I had read it or author Peter Niesewand’s previous thriller Fallback decades ago as an early teenager and remembered it positively.
It’s Americans versus Russians towards the end of the Cold War, and disarmament talks are going on, but the Soviets have been cheating and using secret weapons in Afghanistan. Turns out this author did indeed spend time in Afghanistan, hence the persuasive veracity of the book’s second half. He was a white Rhodesian, a political prisoner, who became a rather glamorous and celebrated foreign correspondent for The Guardian. Sadly he died at the very young age of 39 — Wikipedia says from a disease he contracted in Afghanistan.
It’s fun to read this sort of thing once in a while, even if the protagonists are a bit plasticky. The passage of time arguably gives it more value, as it captures the concerns and conflicts of a particular period.
Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
What an internet treasure. Standard Ebooks is — according to their web site — “a volunteer driven, not-for-profit project that produces lovingly formatted, open source, and free public domain ebooks.” These are some beautiful, consistently-designed ebooks. The epub version works a charm in iBooks.
Monday, June 26th, 2017
Sunday, June 25th, 2017
As an antidote to the borderline smarminess of Jason Horowitz’s New York Times article about returning to Rome, here is a more substantial, dignified, rewarding and useful guide to visiting the city by a blogger named Nan Quick: My Recipe for a Stress-Free Week in Rome. Warning: she takes a couple of paragraphs to warm up.
Saturday, June 24th, 2017
He had me with his first-paragraph mention of Trattoria Da Enzo, my favorite. I’ve forwarded to visitors this panegyric to Rome by the incoming New York Times’ bureau chief. A lot of attractive restaurants mentioned and described. [via Juan Carlos Bronstein, who was unimpressed by the tone, as are many others in the comments]
Friday, June 23rd, 2017
Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
“Gazans today are more moderate than West Bankers on the key question of permanent peace with Israel,” reports David Pollock at The Washington Institute based on what he calls “reliable data from a new survey conducted there May 16-25 by a professional, independent Palestinian pollster.” I thought it might augur hope for an eventual end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but 44% of Gazans and 55% of West Bankers still believe the conflict “should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated”. And 46% of Gazans blame Israel for their economic woes while only 4% blame Egypt. [via dailyalert.com]
At the Borei Choshech blog about depression and Jewish prayer, a brief discussion on an important part of the Jewish morning prayer, Elohai Neshama.
If you happen to be on the lookout for a fresh homey brief humanistic web site, The Saunterer is by H. Charles Romesburg, Professor in the Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University.
Monday, June 19th, 2017
Thursday, June 15th, 2017
David Arnold speaks to collaborating with Chris Cornell on “You Know My Name”, the theme song for the James Bond movie Casino Royale: “We needed someone who could sing the way Daniel acted…” This has become my #3 favorite, after Carly Simon’s Marvin Hamlish number and Nancy Sinatra’s John Barry one.
Sunday, June 11th, 2017
Thursday, June 1st, 2017
Brian Nemhauser’s inspiring rule of yes on requesting personal time from one’s co-parent.
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017
Anti-fragile: Things that Gain from Disorder
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I’ve been listening to the Commentary Magazine podcast lately, enjoying John Podhoretz’s knowledgeable and intelligent monologues, even if regularly exasperated by their ideological blinkers. This week their discussion reeked of black swan events but they fumbled around for the logic that applies. It was obvious that none of the three speakers had read any Nassim Nicholas Taleb, otherwise they would have had the framework and could have moved on. That made them seem ignorant. Which makes you realize these books are seminal. Yes there are irritations, but perhaps these will fade from a more distant perspective. There are echoes here of the iconoclastic spirit of Nietzsche — can there be higher praise?
Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
The Dispensability of Allies by George Friedman — probably the only required reading on President Trump’s upcoming visit to the Middle East, even if it is rather dismal.
Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
Sunday, May 7th, 2017
Friday, May 5th, 2017
Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017
Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
This is fascinating: Turks residing in liberal Europe voted far more heavily for Erdogan’s authoritarian referendum — about 70/30 — than did Turks at home, about 50/50. Far less still did Turks in the USA and the UK vote for it — about 84% and 80% against respectively. A measure of ideological/cultural integration?
Sunday, April 16th, 2017
Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write.
Saturday, March 18th, 2017
Friday, March 17th, 2017
Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
“Yesterday we had a fight about whether I’d been dismissive about him saying his feelings had been hurt by my dismissing his feelings during a previous fight…” From the amusing but very dark Narcissism: a reflection by Laura Kipnis in Spiked.
Monday, January 30th, 2017
It seems to be a deceptively hard song to cover, but here’s a good one with a man, a woman and a ukulele on a living-room sofa, deceptively casual, deceptively perfect. Nobody’s done it better, not even Radiohead. And for something completely different: a great ‘Nobody Does it Better’ series montage by Rik Moran.
Fast, clear, cogent, respectful, dominating — what a performance Hugh Hewitt recently gave on Charlie Rose. He even asked Charlie a couple of times what he thinks, and it quickly became two chummy top media guys sharing ideas, not a mainstream media star interviewing a right-wing kook.
Hewitt managed to work in his career in government — which was all very long ago — and the very many people he knows, but without the name-dropping being the point of his responses. He called Charlie Charlie often enough that Charlie finally called him Hugh. “Great to have you,” Charlie ended it. “Good [ie, maybe not so great] to be here,” the response.
I listen pretty regularly to The Hugh Hewitt Show and it would be nice if we could get this fast-talking, super-smart, reasonable and sophisticated guy instead of the dumbed-down base-cultivating borderline bully we sometimes get on his home turf.
Friday, January 27th, 2017
Smart liberal reporters are probably inclined to think that smart liberal experts are right when they say things the smart liberal reporters already agree with.
Jonah Goldberg, The Goldberg File, January 27, 2017
Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
Albeit behind Iran, Israel squeaks onto Walter Russell Mead’s list of the Great Eight Powers of 2017. It’s amazing that only one European country makes it here.
Friday, January 20th, 2017
Headlines say 2016 hottest year ever. Yes, 0.01°C hotter than 2015. But working from statistics that claim a margin of error of 0.1°C! Ah, truthiness.
Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
Good point, yes. If under Trump it’s between the symbol of a U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem or the reality of continued building throughout the city—as it may well come down to—then the choice is clear, writes Nadav Shragai.
Friday, January 13th, 2017
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over feeding trial conducted for eight weeks at the University of New Mexico demonstrated that eating walnuts improves men’s mood (but interestingly not women’s). I announce here my love them with raisins, that’s 5 per half-walnut.