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Who am I? iPhone 6S Denver, Colorado Thursday, October 12th, 2017.

Who am I?
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Who am I? iPhone 6S Denver, Colorado Thursday, October 12th, 2017.

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Central Israel iPhone 6S Herzlia, Israel Tuesday, September 27th, 2016.

•••

About

Briefs

Monday, December 21st, 2020

High Output Management

Andrew S. Grove

♦♦♦♦

In his careful, cogent and memorable take on effective management, Silicon Valley founding father Andy Grove places a surprising emphasis on meetings; he has the temerity to take issue with — or at least, refine — Peter Drucker’s admonition that they’re a waste of time. Grove’s issue: meetings are the very medium of management; his refinement: that there are actually two major types of meeting, routine and ad hoc, and it’s where there’s a profusion of the latter that something’s amiss.

This erstwhile CEO of Intel notes that while most management books are targeted either at the very top or the very bottom — at the CEO or at those who directly manage frontline workers — the majority of managers manage other managers, and it’s for them he mostly writes, the middle managers.

The book has the authority of someone eager to share lessons from his own extensive experience — indeed he seems to have always worked with one eye towards gaining such knowledge, in no small part because being able to convey what one knows ensures that one actually understands it; that is, managers should also write and teach.

Grove defines the aim of management as increasing the productivity of subordinates, which can be achieved in only two ways: by improving their skills and by improving their motivation. Skills are improved by training, which the manager should undertake himself, considering it not busywork but an opportunity to solidify his own understanding and role-model corporate behavior. Motivation meanwhile is improved best via one-on-one performance reviews. These measures for corporate success are bracingly clear and specific — both the reasoning behind them and how to undertake them.

A refugee from Nazi Europe, Grove may be a legend yet the book is suffused with a democratic humility, a great American sense that success can be approached by all as an engineering problem. A book among books.

PS — A high testament: I actually remembered all these points without reopening High Output Management. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

The Lean Startup

Eric Ries

♦♦♦♦

So much of Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup seems such conventional wisdom now that evaluating its merits is hard.

Entrepreneurship is about management. A startup is an institution designed primarily for learning; learning is accomplished by experimentation with the product and observing customers interact with these experiments; what is learned may then temper the vision for the product. Repeatedly iterated, this is the way through the eye of the startup needle, Reis argues, replete with numerous vivid examples, such as the Village Laundry Service in India learning what its customers mistrust and what they’re willing to pay more for.

The book refers back to and sits well alongside Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm and Steve Blank’s The Four Steps to the Epiphany, both of which I picked up next.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

“Indie developers need protection from monopolistic and anti-competitive practices from larger players in the market through strong government regulation, not a discount on their first $1m in sales.” “Apple’s 15% Deflection Tactic” by John Luxford.

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

“How to Get Your First Customers So Your Company Doesn’t Die” by Matt Munson, a startup founder coach and investor. Some nice nuggets here, such as hiring salespeople in pairs so that you can compare them and be sure any issues are with individuals rather than the system.

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

CEO Chris Best talks Substack with Eric Johnson of Recode. Email as a reading medium, I’m not drawn to it, but maybe because I still live with spam.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

There’s a big difference between nothing and almost nothing, when it’s multiplied by the area under the sun.

Paul Graham, General & Surprising

Sunday, November 8th, 2020

On NPM becoming part of Microsoft, by Bryant Jimin Son. I feel stalked in my work life by Microsoft, which I strive to avoid ever since their horrible behavior re IE6. First Skype, then Atom, now NPM. Fortunately, there are alternatives.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

“Dubai is gulping the dividends of the peace with Israel with great thirst … there is mutual inspiration without the typical, regrettable condescension on our part.” Israeli journalist Ben Caspit spends four days in Dubai. Wawaweewa, the stuff of fondest fantasy!

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

Some nice detail here about the business players poised to first benefit from the Abraham Accords.

The first big winner is Israel’s foremost venture capitalist and investment banker, Edouard Cukierman. Cukierman, who has the largest portfolio of Israeli biotech and technology startups through his Tel Aviv-based Catalyst Investment Fund, is also Israel’s leading mid-market M&A banker through his family’s Cukierman & Co Investment House.

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Obvious yes but still worth a quick read: the people likely to benefit most from Israeli-Gulf relations are Arab Israelis.

In due time, they stand to serve as excellent mediators for any further economic and tourism ties between the UAE and Israel.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Israel and UAE sign their first agreement in the normalization talks: on banking and finance.

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

♦♦♦♦

It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work may be a business book but, like Peter Drucker’s best, I found it profound. We can forget that business itself is profound, the intended happy medium of most modern collective endeavor. For authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of the Basecamp organizational management software-as-a-service, business is the expression of philosophy. They counsel practicing it humanely, moderately and deliberately.

They establish authority with a first shock, an obvious idea you’ve almost certainly not thought of yourself: that a company should be considered a product, its employees the users. In fact this is a framing analogy for the entire book; like Nietzsche’s preface to Beyond Good and Evil positing that we suppose Truth be a woman, it throws wide open our thinking on our subject.

Another shock: they advise eschewing goals: “You don’t need something fake to do something real.” How shatteringly refreshing is that! Especially since my previous book was John Doerr’s Measure What Matters, which is all about goals. I had been excited for the Doerr book, but couldn’t finish it due to the sterile-speak of the case studies, which — unwarrantedly perhaps — undercut my faith in the concept. In contrast, Fried and DHH have the clear bracing style of successful coding entrepreneurs. This helps overcome the natural worry that going goal-less means a descent into hedonic anarchy, instead what they seek is appropriateness and authenticity. That said, I wonder whether this is the idea they’re most likely to step back from in future.

A third novelty seems downright crazy: they advocate not selling licenses by the seat, but by the organization. “It doesn’t matter if you have 5 employees, 50, 500, or 5,000 — it’s still just $99/month total. You can’t pay us more than that.” They leave this money on the table as part of deliberately designing the culture of their company (see the first idea); they don’t want to be dependent on a few large customers, nor create an internal cultural schism between serving small business and enterprise.

Similarly, they decided to stop accepting checks for payment just because it was a hassle, which did lose them some customers. This however is a less controversial notion, akin to Apple removing older technologies from new products despite their still being in widespread use and absorbing the hue and cry.

The authors also believe that the American-inspired work ethic of long hours is counterproductive and inhumane. Having worked at an Israeli software services giant I’m in agreement here too; at Amdocs if you went home after a mere 9 hours in the office you were perceived to be not pulling your weight (and, in my case, eventually laid off). And when I was temporarily attached to teams for international business trips, it seemed that all the team leaders were either divorced or in the process of becoming so.

Some of the authors’ values only apply to their particular industry. They make a claim for good enough rather than perfectionism — this is fine when your product is web-based software where one can churn out a fix at little cost, but not for many other high-value products such as cars.

In my small own small way I already practice much of what the authors preach. My only qualm is that while I love their philosophy, I’ve never much liked Basecamp itself.

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

The essence of programming is to build new things.

Paul Graham, “You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss”

A normal job may be as bad for us intellectually as white flour or sugar is for us physically.

Paul Graham, “You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss”

Monday, July 13th, 2020

Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth

John Doerr

♦♦

I stopped reading John Doerr’s Measure What Matters some halfway through because I couldn’t take any more of the stilted archaic business-speak in the case studies. And because the ideas presented — barring the occasional mild insight — seemed too obvious.

The two insights of value to me: that sub-goals, what Doerr terms the Key Objectives (I think — I still have to keep referring back — nope, it’s Key Results), should be an artful balance between quality and quantity. And that despite the importance of results tying in to objectives and thereby be set top-down, some lassitude should be allowed for results to be set bottom-up.

The book could have benefited from having its ideas framed in terms of the Tao, since everything here is in complementary pairs — even the duality of overarching goal and its constellation of objectives. Instead we have an acronym OKR that still didn’t help me remember the two simple constituent terms.

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

The Making of Prince of Persia

Jordan Mechner

♦♦♦

Video game maker Jordan Mechner wrote a rich diary of his life in the mid-1980s. This book covers the creation his second hit game, Prince of Persia, so we gain access of unique immediacy to the heroic tale of producing a universe-dent-making hit.

I wanted this book, which I discovered via Tyler Cowen’s most recent What I’ve been reading, as inspiration during a small lull in morale as I work on a digital product of my own.

Thirty years on there is some poignancy in that this early period of Mencher’s life was the peak: after graduating Yale, already dreamily successful, he shuttles between San Francisco and Hollywood creating video games and pushing screenplays, a digital Orson Welles (in his later game The Last Express, Mechner combines these passions, relying on cinema to produce an impressive commercial failure).

That said, perhaps it is no failure at all that one can point to the creative peak of a life — Mechner’s arguably was working within the memory constraints of the Apple II to create a foe, Shadow Man, based on the hero character. Here I’m reminded of Ken Kocienda’s not dissimilar Eureka moment when up against a constraint, that of using a dictionary to help create the iPhone keyboard.

Perhaps it would have been a better book if he had fleshed out the journal with an italicized retrospective written now, but count me a late-arrival Jordan Mechner fan. And don’t get the Kindle edition lacking the illustrations; I think I’m gonna need to buy the actual book.

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

The comfort of having an organization is largely illusory; it still comes down to one programmer in the end.

Jordan Mechner, The Making of Prince of Persia

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

Tyler Cowen and Ross Douthat in conversation.

So some combination of a strong state, some kind of small-c conservative social renewal, and some sort of futurism offers some kind of alchemy…

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs

by Ken Kocienda

♦♦♦♦

In one of those books where we see it’s perhaps more useful to be a doer who latterly writes than a professional writer, the author scaffolds a theory of success around his own respective failures and two giant successes: creating Apple’s Safari web browser for OS X and creating the iOS keyboard, no less.

We get to share the Eureka moments when these two significant dents in the universe came together. And the story of their creations serve as perfect illustrations of his theory, derived from Darwin’s.

Must-reading for many, surely.

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

Venkatesh Rao’s Into the Yakverse is just too disgustingly awesomely good. Think the tone of David Goldman’s visits to Cardinal Richelieu, along with the cynical wit of top Armando Iannucci satire, and the light momentum of an Eliyahu Goldratt business novel.

A call to arms for gigworld: Towards Gigwork as a Folkway by Venkatesh Rao.

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of an Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader

Brent Schlener and Rick Tetzell

♦♦♦

Although the simple thesis gets repeated interminably, nonetheless it’s a nice one: that Steve Jobs’s greatness stems muchly from his constant becoming, constant learning, constant trying to overcome himself (hence the title, which can be read as descriptive).

It’s great to be in his company, which you feel you are, as one of the authors was himself repeatedly so for decades.

One thing new to me was Pixar’s role in maturing Jobs; we don’t often read about who and what shaped the shaper.

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Data without generalization is just gossip.

Robert Pirsig, Lila

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

Matt Layman’s handy Failed SaaS Postmortem — too much tech tinkering; I need to take heed. Plus it’s great he’s getting right back in the saddle.

Saturday, December 14th, 2019

“Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict” — the inaugural James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Lecture in Economic Inequality at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics by Thomas Piketty (March 30th, 2018).

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

Quite the overview: “The Real Class War” by Julius Krein, editor of American Affairs.

The real class war is between the 0.1 percent and (at most) the 10 percent—or, more precisely, between elites primarily dependent on capital gains and those primarily dependent on profes sional labor.

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Succession as comedy. Obvious, given its producers, but still, nicely written.

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Install bullshit.js as a bookmarklet. Your insides will thank you.

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

ExpressionEngine (EE) is the content management system that until recently I used for building every web property. In November 2018, EllisLab, the producer of EE, was sold to Digital Locations, Inc. (DLOC) and EllisLab owner Rick Ellis joined the parent company’s payroll. The acquisition is detailed in Digital Locations’ Quarterly Report (Form 10-Q) dated August 13th, 2019.

But the Digital Locations acquisition seems downright skeezy. Despite the company’s tagline about Artificial Intelligence, it appears to be nothing more than a holding company for Mr Bill Beifuss. Moreover it looks like he’s scrimping on incorporation fees: the company was founded in 2006 as Zingerang, then became Carbon Sciences for a decade, before morphing again into Digital Locations. It self-reports never having had any revenues.

According to the linked-to Bloomberg profile, Mr Beifuss is also CEO of some other companies: Warp 9 Inc, Coeur D’alene French Baking Co, and Cumorah Capital Inc., none of which appear to provide any actual products or services either.

Rick must have been aware of and a party to this bullshit. With ExpressionEngine he had a great thing going; I wonder what happened. All I can speculate is that he very much wanted to segue EE’s success into enabling him to try other things professionally but that it remained his biggest achievement and he couldn’t bring himself to let go of the golden goose even though it was fading without his hands-on vision. And then at some point last year he suddenly really needed a buyer.

Recently, on October 3rd, 2019, he bought EllisLab back from Beifuss then sold it a week later to development house Packet Tide, that is, Tom Jaeger. So it Rick Ellis has finally let go of ExpressionEngine, even if he held on too long; despite being free EE can barely be be given away now; the technology has moved on.

I’m relieved to have moved away from it onto the Node ecosystem. I really enjoyed meeting the EllisLab team at an EE conference in 2017 — such cool nice folks in person — but for me EllisLab is a cautionary tale.

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Starting from WeWork, Matt Stoller coins “counterfeit capitalism” as the Amazon model: “take inputs, combine them into products worth less than their cost, and plug up the deficit through the capital markets in hopes of acquiring market power later or of just self-dealing so the losses are placed onto someone else.” It is, he argues, terrible for society as a whole.

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

For anyone (like me) working on doing the same, see Wenbin Fang’s article “The boring technology behind a one-person Internet company”. Of course the technologies used will differ, but the frankness here is refreshing, the contour of what’s required enlightening.

Monday, September 16th, 2019

Re Uber, Izabella Kaminska asks: “If you have a company with lots of employees, margins are very low and it is acquiring market share through subsidisation, and not necessarily through quality, how can you guarantee that this is going to be a sustainable and profitable model? You can’t.”

Monday, August 26th, 2019

It’s a Kentucky Fried Miracle: KFC will sell meatless Beyond Fried Chicken.

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Eric Elliott the JavaScript guru lays out his vision of the technical roles of a software company.

See the “Download 2019 Report” link here at for the lengthy and infographic-packed Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019: Creating Healthy Lives-The Future of Medical Innovation wherein Israel breaks into the top 10 for the first time.

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

How the rich differ, according to the currently-popupar Big Five psychological framework. More conscientious, less neurotic, less agreeable, more extravert, and more open to experience.

Friday, July 26th, 2019

See the “Download 2019 Report” link here at for the lengthy and infographic-packed Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019: Creating Healthy Lives-The Future of Medical Innovation wherein Israel breaks into the top 10 for the first time.

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Friday, July 12th, 2019

Some unconventional wisdom from David C Baker that I’d like to revisit every once in a while: “Why Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) Arrangements May Not Be Ideal”. He concludes: “If I’ve confused you with all this, just concentrate on this one point: retainers and MRR relationships scream hourly work, and you shouldn’t be doing hourly work.” But at least for me at Engaging, the opposite is true: I’ve always billed hourly anyway, and some MRR arrangements I’ve made more recently have freed us from thinking in terms of hours (even though I’m still habitually keeping a log of hours worked).

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

Monday, May 13th, 2019

A manifesto for the remaining sensible: “Tucker’s Right” by Michael Anton.

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

“Clients that come to you only for implementation are going to be your worst clients.” Yes! “The Strategic Independent” by Tom Critchlow.

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

Venkatesh is a treasure, what with his “Jonathan Livingstone Corporation” on solving not for money but aliveness.

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Monday, March 11th, 2019

index topics business business

Arab Insanity Eroding

What shame, to have tainted with one’s own madness such benevolent bodies as civil aviation, non-combatant status in war — even United Nations human rights bodies.

Denver Met

My intent here is not only to participate in a conference but to suck up myriad Americana as a thirsty exile catapulted back in for a primer.

Yes

It’s a Somewhat Rauschenberg World

I don’t like this use of animals, like Damien Hirst’s. The artist could not have asked the goat for permission so should not have assumed it was granted.

Black Tracks the Presidents

The great virtue of Conrad Black’s Flight of the Eagle is its steady track across the entirety of the nation’s history, treating each president equally under its own law and order.

Homepage Design 2016

No matter the screen size, a web site should feel like itself, even if it doesn’t look it. So do “mobile first” second.

Yes

From iPhone 4S to 6S: An Appreciation

The increased size, something I was so hesitant about, feels fine to me now. And because it’s thinner it feels less obtrusive in my pocket.

Spectreview

With the villain’s quasi-sibling bond to the hero, 2015’s 007 movie deflates to an incestuous Möbius Strip.

In Gaza, Israel Should Own its Terrible Tactic

Although such excoriating labels as “collective punishment” and “state terrorism” aren’t entirely wrong regarding Israel’s application of the Dahieh Doctrine in Gaza, history does suggest that the method is effective in fighting a fundamentally defensive war.

Go Deny Yourself

This four-letter little word undermines our modern values of tolerance and presumption of innocence.

Some Consumer Affairs

I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.

Yes

From Nokia N95 to iPhone 4S

Annoyances and upsets with the iPhone 4S have been more than offset by its screen, the silkiness of its surfaces, the camera, and the third-party market for both software and hardware.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Dry, Juicy, Linear, Luminous

The dancers in the ape-suits; how they move is an incredibly energetic output for us. Contrast their physical reaction when witnessing the monolith to that of the astronauts in the newly-minted 21st century.

The Mouse and the Cantilever

Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.

Friendship is for Weenies

It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust US President Obama.

Before the Setup

It’s 1983: Go for the Apple IIe with 64k that could be opened up as a hobbyist machine? Or the smaller, sleeker and newer IIc with double the memory but a closed case?

At Modi’in Mall

There’s nothing else around here except empty desolate pretty hills. The Israel Trail passes by a bit to the west. The shops are mostly franchises, almost all homegrown: Super-Pharm, Aroma, Tzomet Sfarim, Cup O’ Joe’s, LaMetayel, Mega, Fox, Castro, H&O.

Yes

The Israel I Love, the Bad So Far

If the signage were a bit more effective, the staff’s diction and demeanor more professional, then we might have avoided this testy altercation.

Shanghai Europe

So, finally, we stopped yesterday; the Israeli assault on Gaza of late 2008/early 2009 is over. With it, Israel lost moral purity and made vital strategic gains.

Yes

Panning for MacBook Pro

Even if it did nothing, was just a prop in a futuristic movie, the MacBook Pro would be impressive; it’s like a sculpture of my previous computer, the MacBook, except it’s actually an improved computer!

Stop Yesterday

Is the goal of Israel’s current assault on Gaza to discourage Hamas from firing rockets or to render them incapable of doing so? These are two quite different projects.

Short-circuiting Place-based Longing

If there’s one tangible benefit to having lived in a variety of places it’s that it furnishes evidence of the futility of longing to be elsewhere.

A Crawl Across Crawley, Part 1

Irit, the Jam and I walk from Brighton to Gatwick Airport.

Clash of the Midgets

I was annoyed to have my sauna moments despoiled and dominated, reverberating with this old geezer’s most naff yap.

Yes

Israel’s Greatest Victory Since Osirak?

If Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was part of a masterplan to staunch the damage done by the victory of the Six Day War in 1967, then today we see another step in its unfolding.

The Small Adventures, Part 2

There in the empty restaurant by the water at Dieppe I had toast with foie gras, a carafe of red wine, a huge plate of mussels and chips, and finally a crème brûlée. Somehow, though I’ve eaten in restaurants hundreds of times, I felt grown up.

Yes

The Small Adventures

Late for the 11pm train to Milan, we enquired frantically among the taxis for one who’d accept the two dogs and take us to Termini Station so I could begin our journey to Britain.

Tony Blair and the Four-State Solution

Ariel Sharon’s disengagement policy reflected an understanding that ownership of the Palestinian issue is shared with Egypt and Jordan. If Tony Blair were to acquire this view, perhaps he really could help facilitate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A Restoration and Return

There she was, sitting outside the apartment block! How did she do it? Dogs—or at least Jam—must have some sort of navigational sense we don’t understand.

Curs to Fate

Yesterday I lost Jam in Villa Borghese, the central park here in Rome, some five miles from Talenti, the neighborhood where we’re staying. She has not turned up since.

Yes

Jam and Bread, Jam and Bread!

My dog Jam has spent over a third of her time here in Italy as her fixtures have fallen away—first Maddie, then me. But now I’m back!

Yes

This Trip’s Last Day

I went to Astor Place Haircutters. I crossed Manhattan Bridge on foot. I walked west along Canal St, seeking a bamboo steamer.

I, Thou and Pastor Bob

At the Calvary Church here in Fort Lauderdale the Biblical locations feel so far away that they can be abstracted and spiritualized. There is religious energy here.

Yes

The Big and Easy

The American stage is grand, as are the achievements and ambitions, but daily life seems lamed by a compulsive denaturing.

A Drop in Time

The camera hit the ground lens first, bashing it in so that it would no longer wind in and out, and couldn’t switch on. Without it, my perception of an important personal era was degraded.

A Ride to Gatwick Airport

Airports. They’re so charged, so symbolic, and so empty once you’re at one; I dream of them so often.

Only the Rustle in the Trees

Grief, loss — these are the great teachers surely. What one has will pass.

A Cabaret, Old Chum

It’s a last bastion of civility, being allowed to drink at Penn Station, Brian mused ruefully as we carried our beers to his train home to Great Neck.

Fatahland and Hamastan

Now Israel has a dog in a real Palestinian fight: the nationalists rather than the Islamists.

Yes

Stars, Stripes & Superlatives

Here in Los Angeles I am bombarded with superlatives. Daniel’s record collection. The Bikram Yoga College of India world headquarters. Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. All mixed in with the most ravaging mediocrity.

Shite on Brighton

“Like many provincial towns,” the Private Eye reviewer stabs, “Brighton, as depicted in this hacked-together tribute, defines itself more by what it isn’t than by what it is. It’s not London, for one thing.”

Daily Yin

For my first test of the day as day, I open the back door and step outside to the little patio to see the sky and feel the air. I realize not everybody does this, so if people tell me I’m a miserable bastard then perhaps this little habit will correct their impression.

Mind the Dream

Dreaming about our passed companions as if they are alive requires tricks to the dreaming mind to overcome what it believes and knows to be true.

The Dharma Tits

Buddhism is the philosophy and psychology closest to Cognitive Therapy and vice versa.

Yes

Still Got the Jam

Jam was one of Maddie’s nine puppies, the one who remained after the others were all taken. That was always my plan, to keep the runt.

Such a Tramp

Maddie, who died 18 months ago today, was a mangy mutt and stank, but she was also among the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen and for me the longest, richest, widest, deepest streak of feeling lucky.

So You Noticed

I have had something very flattering: a request. Juan Carlos has asked me for comments on Casino Royale.

Reminds Me of Tel Aviv

You get to a stage in life where you are already formed by the past. Thoughts and dilemmas about place are either central questions or a distraction from real issues.

Fly the Blag

Ryanair has brought wretchedness to the skies. Rather than existing on a privileged plane, you stew in a poisoned atmosphere.

Approaching Infinite Justice

Immediately after 9/11, the burgeoning war on terror was named “Operation Infinite Justice”. Within days it was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom”, but is the new name a mere cloaking of the first?

On the Seventh Day

The Mrs is skeptical of David Allen’s Getting Things Done self-management system because it eschews the rigors of time management in lieu of what feels right. But GTD is about informed feeling.

Don’t Panic!

An academic romp through Jewish American comedy starts out as a veritable rollercoaster ride, but grinds to halt with its obsession with one Bob Dylan.

Photographing a Handsome Old Man

I want to get people in my pics, but it’s tougher when you’re no longer a wide-eyed teenager, because people generally don’t like to think they are a spectacle.

The Beauty of Rain

Rain makes the rocks shine. It puts in motion things that are otherwise static. It illustrates gravity most prettily.

Ode to Salame

It’s supposed to be the arsehole of Tel Aviv, Salame Street, running east-west at its southern tip, but it always does me darn good.

I Love Laundry

How pleasing it is to have my own washing machine. If all isn’t right with the world, not even in my world, at least the laundry cycle is functioning.

Lovely Scenery, But Walks Getting Boring

Unless I drive somewhere new, it’s not much fun to just step out the door and wander. But driving to go for a walk seems a tad ridiculous.

For Love of Economy

It disturbs me to be driving a car that gets fewer kilometers to the shekel than did my previous.

Shinui and the Seven-Year Itch

How refreshing to see Asian faces out shopping in Tel Aviv, or Africans riding the bus to Ra’anana. With them Israel is given fresh wellsprings of culture.

Allah Help the Jackals

While it’s obvious that overplaying your power can result in a downfall, it’s less obvious that underplaying it also leads to trouble. America did this in the 1970s under Carter. Israel seems to have done it almost perennially.

Yes

For Tel Aviv, Better a Skylift Than a Subway

Rather than copycatting a transportation system from the 19th century, Israel could inject into its civic planning the same audacity and resourcefulness that it has historically brought to agriculture and defence.

Yes

Canada Obscura

There’s not a patch of water to be seen—the most liquid thing is the word “Coffee” on one of the low-slung strip-mall buildings. It’s a scene more artful than art itself.

Tour of Kitchen Duty

There was yelling and spray and I raced to keep up. One can enjoy, briefly, the company of men.

Shiny Bright Toadstool

In Israel’s case, burgernomics don’t add up because significant factors contribute to the 30%-odd surcharge on a Big Mac.

The Fresh Jewels of Spring Mound

Quality of life in Tel Aviv is fundamentally enhanced by two simple factors: trees are everywhere, and so are apartments.

Independence Park Up for Grabs?

To this day men of many ages walk these bushes, they delicately lurk these bushes, and stand in places odd to choose.

We Tri Harder

A land could be governed not only by the three separate arms of government, but by three sovereign states.

Yes

Tira Saunters

The one-lane road is empty; down below is the Sharon Plain, looking vast. Israel may be a small country but we’re still speaking here of land.

A Call to Thumbs

When you hitchhike it’s out of your hands, and that’s therapeutic. Paradoxically, you also see how much control you do have.

 

Briefs (cont’d)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Andy Bell outlines new CSS functionality in Smashing Magazine.

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Howard Oakley provides this survey of paintings of trains.

Echolalia

Meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder

The politicians are engaged in endless echolalia. The governor here (cum-Secretary of Commerce) actually had the chutzpah to say, “I know you’re all unhappy with the speed of vaccination, but our strategy is working.” What strategy could that possibly be??? If it’s not to save lives, then you’ve lost me.

Alan Weiss

Friday, February 5th, 2021

In a sign of the times of economic inequality in America, Cheap RV Living by Bob Wells, a long-time VanDweller, is increasingly relevant.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Like Anna Karenina’s brother, it’s not that the United States media has a bad memory, rather it has acquired an excellent forgettery. Victor Davis Hanson remembers nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

A survey of American research on minimum wage by David Neumark & Peter Shirley at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Ra’anana-based Vertical Field signed with Emirates Smart Solutions & Technologies (ESST) to build a pilot of its vertical farms in the United Arab Emirates. Major cool.

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Upending the conventional wisdom that happiness does not increase beyond an annual household income of $75,000, this study, using random ongoing smartphone check-ins, demonstrates a continued increase in well-being as income rises.

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Dated but still interesting: The Guardian looks at the rather disappointing design of Japanese newspaper websites.

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Nice backgrounder at Stat News on the history of mRNA vaccines.

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

A great grounds-eye view of the upset in Washington DC, “What I Saw at the Capitol Riot” by Declan Leary in The American Conservative.

To my left I hear “We don’t need Gitmo,” and I’m not quite sure what’s meant by it. From the same general area comes “I’ll donate a vaccination—.223 hollow point.” A little less ambiguous. Somebody with a megaphone is in the middle of a speech: “If you stand for nothing, you gotta stand for something.” Close enough. A young woman with a bullhorn of her own lets out a lone motherfucker. An older man looks at me with a smile and asks if she kisses her mother with that mouth. A few seconds later the same voice drones at nobody in particular: Pussy, pussyyyyy, pussy, pusssaaaaaaayyyyyy.

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

From the CDC, US vaccination numbers. So far the state that’s done best is South Dakota at 3%.

Friday, January 1st, 2021

Cute, if harrowing: the no-longer economically viable Simpsons household, a piece in The Atlantic by Dani Alexis Ryskamp.

Friday, December 25th, 2020

The potential for warm relations between Israel and Morocco may be more than with the Gulf nations, this piece argues, as relations have been significant for some time.

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

The Basecamp fellows have released a new web development paradigm, Hotwire. I don’t quite get it, but with their pedigree and skill as the makers of Ruby on Rails, this could be big.

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

This lengthy interview with Secretary-General Sayyid Nasrallah may be useful for insight into Hezbollah’s perspectives. There are some bizarre connections, such as the notion that Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 because of deep concern regarding Iran’s “liberation of Khorramshahr” in the Iran-Iraq War.

Monday, December 21st, 2020

High Output Management

Andrew S. Grove

♦♦♦♦

In his careful, cogent and memorable take on effective management, Silicon Valley founding father Andy Grove places a surprising emphasis on meetings; he has the temerity to take issue with — or at least, refine — Peter Drucker’s admonition that they’re a waste of time. Grove’s issue: meetings are the very medium of management; his refinement: that there are actually two major types of meeting, routine and ad hoc, and it’s where there’s a profusion of the latter that something’s amiss.

This erstwhile CEO of Intel notes that while most management books are targeted either at the very top or the very bottom — at the CEO or at those who directly manage frontline workers — the majority of managers manage other managers, and it’s for them he mostly writes, the middle managers.

The book has the authority of someone eager to share lessons from his own extensive experience — indeed he seems to have always worked with one eye towards gaining such knowledge, in no small part because being able to convey what one knows ensures that one actually understands it; that is, managers should also write and teach.

Grove defines the aim of management as increasing the productivity of subordinates, which can be achieved in only two ways: by improving their skills and by improving their motivation. Skills are improved by training, which the manager should undertake himself, considering it not busywork but an opportunity to solidify his own understanding and role-model corporate behavior. Motivation meanwhile is improved best via one-on-one performance reviews. These measures for corporate success are bracingly clear and specific — both the reasoning behind them and how to undertake them.

A refugee from Nazi Europe, Grove may be a legend yet the book is suffused with a democratic humility, a great American sense that success can be approached by all as an engineering problem. A book among books.

PS — A high testament: I actually remembered all these points without reopening High Output Management. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

What a huge story, Britain and France’s commitment to nuclear power, despite it being economically nonsensical in 2020, what with renewables ever cheaper. The amazing Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on nuclear power as a way to finance the Royal Navy.

The architect would surely be pleased that there is once again a Frank Lloyd Wright hotel in Japan — though he’d probably say: Just the one? (Actually it’s not by Wright but Arata Endo, who seems a tasteful and disciplined disciple.)

The first lab-grown chicken meat will be served at a Singapore restaurant this weekend!

Good old Speccie:

For Britain, there are many lessons to be learned from the IDF, a democratic military machine that relies heavily on technology to engage enemies on various fronts and in diverse contexts.

This from “Britain is right to pursue closer military ties to Israel” by Jake Wallis Simons. I had not known that the source of Israel’s tip-off regarding Syria’s North Korean nuclear reactor was a British spy.

Definitely not of general interest, Global state in SSR with Vue and Node.js at sum.cumo.

Israel intercepts a cruise missile in a test of its 3-tier missile defence system.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

Ross Douthat in his typical perfect way essays on American childbearing in the really nice magazine Plough.

Monday, December 14th, 2020

Israel to boost its alternative meat industry.. How wonderful is that. If it happens.

Dave Rupert does a nice job (April 2018) listing the pitfalls of card UIs. I’m beginning to think though that for Rupert, a long list of drawbacks is throat-clearing for “I’m going ahead with this.”

Friday, December 11th, 2020

Well all this looks like too much fun: trailers for upcoming Marvel TV shows. It is indeed the best of times, the worst of times.

I’ve been surprised and disappointed by just how many people are hesitant to take up the COVID-19 vaccines now coming online. In this concerned Nautilus article “How to Build Trust in Covid-19 Vaccines”, the authors take on the issue with sober good sense, eg:

Mandatory vaccination policies should be avoided because they could backfire. More acceptable would be tying vaccination status to travel or access to public places.

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Monday, November 30th, 2020

The URL city-journal.org/white-fragility suggests that this piece by Coleman Hughes is the house stance on the insanity; good.

What a perfect, impassioned argument by Scottish, sorry, British broadcaster Neil Oliver in praise of keeping Britain. For him it is, correctly, not a confused affair of the dismal science but a clear celebration of the happy heart.

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

The Lean Startup

Eric Ries

♦♦♦♦

So much of Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup seems such conventional wisdom now that evaluating its merits is hard.

Entrepreneurship is about management. A startup is an institution designed primarily for learning; learning is accomplished by experimentation with the product and observing customers interact with these experiments; what is learned may then temper the vision for the product. Repeatedly iterated, this is the way through the eye of the startup needle, Reis argues, replete with numerous vivid examples, such as the Village Laundry Service in India learning what its customers mistrust and what they’re willing to pay more for.

The book refers back to and sits well alongside Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm and Steve Blank’s The Four Steps to the Epiphany, both of which I picked up next.

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Metatags.io, a very nice tool to test your metatags. Bravo, makers.

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

I’m at the beginning of the end of the middle.

ASK

Weekly became daily quickly.

ASK

It falls to Andrew Cunningham to take up the magisterial task of the Ars Technica review of macOS Big Sur.

3D model of Fallingwater by sighty for sale, including a portion of Bear Run, which interestingly gets cuts off even before the bridge that obviously crosses it, making this a model not of the house but of a model of it.

Boy, there are other models too. Here’s an interactive Fallingwater by archimore. It has the interior, even the raised rocks around the fireplace! (Though missing the grand swinging water heater.) The non-Wright dining-table chairs that Mrs Kaufman brought. The portrait of Edgar on the wall! Yet no walkway up to the Guesthouse, and no Guesthouse.

And another Fallingwater by Myles Zhang which does have the Gueshouse and ramp, even the steps into the swimming pool. And a very long stretch of Bear Run. It does have the round red water holer, but no furniture.

Would be good to merge these magnificent efforts to make a more detailed, canonical model.

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

A close-to-the-ground view of the current pandemic response in Southern California. Mentions of food insecurity, and there’s color in the comments.

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

George Carlin on Time in 1978. Embarrassingly I’d only ever seen him older. In interviews he says he set out to be Danny Kaye; I think that’s noticeable here.

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

“Indie developers need protection from monopolistic and anti-competitive practices from larger players in the market through strong government regulation, not a discount on their first $1m in sales.” “Apple’s 15% Deflection Tactic” by John Luxford.

The 2020 US election is apparently not yet over. “It is indeed a very foul mess,” states Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor now Trump legal team member, whom people speak of respectfully in the comments. “It is farther and wider and deeper than we ever thought but we are going to go after it and I am going to expose every one of them.” [Update 2020 Nov 23: So much for that! “Trump Legal Team Distances Itself From Sidney Powell After Unproven Claims” in The Daily Wire.]

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

“How to Get Your First Customers So Your Company Doesn’t Die” by Matt Munson, a startup founder coach and investor. Some nice nuggets here, such as hiring salespeople in pairs so that you can compare them and be sure any issues are with individuals rather than the system.

 
 

•••

Newsroll

A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute, edited by Brian C. Anderson.

experiments in refactored perception

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  • MJD 59,256

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