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Briefs

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Prince William will make the first ever official tour of Israel by a member of the British royal family (Jordan first though).

I think this is quite a big deal; Britain has complicated feelings towards Israel — to wit, the country’s non-appearance to date in 25 James Bond movies.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

In the wake of America’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, an Israel-Iran war is unlikely but still…

Friday, April 27th, 2018

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un enters South Korea for a summit with President Moon Jae-in. They jointly plant a tree and sign a friendly declaration.

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Two pieces that capture the current state of play in the tinderbox that is Syria: “The Extraordinarily High Stakes in Syria” by Noah Rothman in Commentary (whom I usually find hard to read for some reason); and “How Putin’s Folly Could Lead to a Middle East War” by Jonathan Schanzer in Politico.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn interviews Avi Gil, senior aide to Shimon Peres on his forthcoming book, The Peres Formula: Diary of a Confidant.

Gil: “Peres is a bitchonist. He sees first and foremost Israel’s interest, its existence, its survival. In terms of his life mission, to which he gave expression in no few conversations, he saw two mileposts: Dimona and Oslo.”

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Michael Rubin at aei.org: Yes, Turkey has definitely become a rogue regime.

From my brief travels I came across the standard blue/red divide, but it’s more virulent in Turkey due to the revolutionary power of the local religion.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

In the wake of the White House conference on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which the Palestinians did not attend, Noah Feldman masterfully lays out the land regarding Jared Kushner’s diplomatic push between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Noah on Abbas’s leverage: “In the end, the Arab states can’t actually sign a peace agreement without a Palestinian state signing it, too.”

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

On February 19th, Israeli natural gas companies announced a $15b contract with Egypt. These interlocking infrastructure interests enmesh Israel with her neighbors and provide for further possibilities.

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Everything for the ride, the game, the thrill, perhaps the rugs. Paul Manafort, American Hustler in The Atlantic.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Watching Mike Pence’s speech to the Knesset [transcript and video at Haaretz], Prime Minister Netanyahu can’t jump to his feet fast enough.

The US Vice President draws parallels between America’s and Israel’s stories. He sets a 2019 deadline for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. And he recites Shehechianu in Hebrew.

This historic speech furthers the momentum of the new American way in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To paraphrase the Grateful Dead: More than this I will not ask.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

The next step in the Trump shibboleth-marauding strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal appears to have just happened: The President has threatened the Palestinians with withholding aid if they continue to refuse to come to the negotiating table.

These were merely tweets, a new lower level of presidential statement, but nonetheless they’re another demonstration to the Palestinians that they do in fact have things to lose by maintaining the conflict indefinitely. It seems a softening up before negotiations begin so that this time they will finally actually end with a deal.

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

In Mosaic, Martin Kramer tells the tale, set over lunch in Ein Kerem, of the closest Jerusalem ever got to internationalization. (At one point I found the internationalization of Jerusalem a heady and exciting notion—providing of course that the UN move its HQ there.) A most vivid history op-ed piece.

Monday, December 18th, 2017

This investigative piece by Josh Meyer in Politico depicts a DEA investigation into global Hezballah criminal activity undercut by an Obama Administration hell-bent on a deal with Iran.

Monday, December 11th, 2017

There has never been a West European post-Second World War policy in [the Middle East] except to await the American position and then stake out something more favourable to the Arabs.

Conrad Black, “The Palestinians should take what they can get while they can”

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

On the eve of US recognition of Israel’s capital, very much in-the-loop Ambassador Ron Dermer speaks (three paragraphs at a time!) to the Global Politico podcast.

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Yes, yes, yes — another nice one by Evelyn Gordon. Unusually, Trump’s UN speech did not even mention the Palestinians. The omission is the first diplomatic suggestion to them that they may have something to lose by intransigence. To date, the only policy I can think of that has served this purpose is settlements.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

InspireConversation is the parenting blog of, together with his wife, Jason Greenblatt. He is the presidential envoy who accompanied Israel’s Head of Security Services to Jordan to defuse the recent Israeli embassy crisis there.

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Efraim Inbar provides the background to the hugely significant first-time-ever visit to Israel by an Indian Prime Minister.

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Scimitar

Peter Niesewand

♦♦

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, 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.

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.

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.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

The world’s most (only?) prescient columnist takes a step back to show us where Russia and China are similar and different to America. This article is one for these new times, to be sure.

Ian Buruma on Brussels. I found it a pretty exciting city so when I saw this article I jumped on it (plus I vaguely remember being impressed by something else this fellow wrote) and it’s pretty sweeping and fun.

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

The New York Times attempts to embarrass Trump’s new appointment by linking to eight of incoming American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s columns in Arutz Sheva as if his words alone are enough to horrify. I for one though agree with everything he writes in these, except perhaps in “Time to Regroup on Iran” where he suggests hitting Hamas harder — not sure about that. I’m with him on J Street, and there’s great stuff on what he dubs the two-state narrative.

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

New British prime minister Theresa May’s first major decision was the nuclear plant at Hinckley Point and it seems she took the easy way out.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, talks to Die Zeit about Germany’s own debt relief and the proper way forward now.

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Perhaps most useful for its fulsome array of interesting links, nonetheless this essay into the Anglo-American way of empire goes the furthest I know in explaining why they’re the worst except for all the others.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies summarizes its 8th annual conference. They seem in agreement with the international view that progress with the Palestinians is the key.

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

In tandem with Robert Kagan’s recent piece on post-WW2 Pax Americana, Lee Smith suggests Obama is (mistakenly) pursuing a balance of power rather than hegemonic arrangement in the Middle East.

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Perhaps the most frightening thing about this much-lauded essay on America’s post-WWII hegemony is that it was written at all, that our world order is receding so far so fast that we, or at least Robert Kagan, can see outside it.

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Jonathan Spyer bracingly articulates the Right’s two fundamental arguments for the inevitability of the failure of John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Dore Gold recounts Iran’s first ‘charm offensive’: its use of the tactic of khod’eh, ie, “tricking one’s enemy into a misjudgment of one’s true position”, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini waged a successful deception campaign from exile in Paris.

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Galei Zahal (IDF Radio)‘s Arab Affairs correspondent looks acutely at the Syrian civil war from Hezballah’s perspective. It’s all-out Sunni-Shiite confrontation.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

INS Rahav follows Dolphin, Leviathan, Tekumah and Tannin as Israel’s, among other functions, Made in (and partially paid for by) Germany doomsday device. What a thing.

Peres and the Pope as covered by the Voice of America (Reuters). This meeting has not gotten much coverage.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

“On the Festival of Freedom, we are taking an important step toward energy independence,” the Prime Minister’s Office announced, as Israel’s Mediterranean natural gas fields turn online (FT registration required).

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Israel is finally addressing Syria’s systematic murder and torture of its own civilians.
They are our neighbors and I hope we apply our ingenuity and power
to bettering their circumstances.

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

The power shvitz in the basement of the Finnish embassy in Washington.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

“ A world that places any value on the idea of universal human rights
should no longer overlook North Korea’s enormities. ” —The Economist

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Dore Gold’s Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs summarizes the gradual thawing of China-Israel relations as China matures.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

index topics diplomacy diplomacy
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.

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.

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.

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)

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

Check out this important web development article, “CSS: A New Kind Of JavaScript”
https://medium.com/@Heydon/css-a-new-kind-of-javascript-fcf730d33ce7. I think the author is especially clear on

opacity
.

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Nicely done on the semi-colon besides, anything that gets in Moby Dick‘s chapter 42 will be alright.

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

In the JAMstack — the new decoupled way of building web sites (rather than using a monolithic system) — data gets passed around, usually in JSON format, which is essentially arrays. The newest versions of Javascript, ES5 and ES6, have more methods for handling arrays, the most cited being map, filter and reduce. Since handling arrays in JavaScript constitutes a significant part of coding a JAMstack web site, it’s vital that a web builder to know and understand these methods.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Lesbians protest transsexuals at London Pride. The group is called Get the L Out. The event and the media condemned them but they seem to have some sympathy in the discussion on mumsnet.

A German court has issues the first GDPR ruling, reports The National Law Review. It concerns ICANN, the American non-profit that oversees the global WHOIS database of registered internet domain names, and German registrar EPAG.

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Tyler Cowen: Why read news?

If you follow the news, you will work at it every day, more or less. Better those compound returns than to do something else once every three months and a half.

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Michael Chabon on Finnegan’s Wake [2012].

As my year of diving languorously into the murky waters of the Wake wore on, I came to feel that it was this failure, this impossibility, this grand futility of the Wake, that constituted its secret theme, its true aboutness.

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

First she called herself a Joycean, then she realized she’s more of a Joyceaholic. A great fun rueful erudite walk around the city that is James Joyce.

This is not the first time I’ve broken up with Joyce. A couple of years ago I decided we were in a co-dependent relationship. Except how could that be true if I was the only dependent one?

Friday, June 15th, 2018

What a lovely episode of Westworld is the latest, “Kiksuya”. I think the show has been great recently, such as crashing into the Shogun version of Sweetwater in “Akane no Mai”, and James Delos’s incarceration and repeated relaunches in “The Riddle of the Sphinx”.

There is so much death depicted in Westworld; I haven’t watched Game of Thrones nor The Walking Dead so perhaps that is par for the course nowadays on tv but it’s new for me. In reality this level of mayhem only exists in pockets (and of course among the non-human), so I suppose it is important that we be reminded of it.

I love the ongoing reversal within Westworld that the real world shot outdoors is fake while the indoor sets underground, reached through Lost-like hatches, are real. And the music; beautiful! And the scenery, beautiful! Without these two elements, how great can a moving picture story ever be?

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

The US Supreme Court has ruled 7–2 in defence of Colorado baker Jack Phillips who refused for religious reasons to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple who subsequently sued him.

Justice Anthony Kennedy: “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Bernard Lewis, 102 by Yonoson Rosenblum:

Lewis was one of the first to take note of the “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders,” issued in an obscure London Arabic paper in February 1998 by Osama bin Laden. Lewis began his piece in Foreign Affairs as only one deeply immersed in Arabic literature could, with attention to the declaration as a “magnificent piece of eloquent, at times even poetic, Arabic prose.”

More:

At times, he has been a player, not just chronicler of events. Well before the Yom Kippur War, he was tasked by Egyptian diplomat Tahseen Bashir with bringing to Israeli leaders the message that President Sadat was ready to make peace. Bernard met with then prime minister Golda Meir, whom he describes as having a “personal filtration system” that allowed through only what she wanted to hear, as well as Moshe Dayan, Yitzchak Rabin and Menachem Begin. Only the last was eager to pursue the diplomatic feelers.

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

The Dawn of Day

Friedrich Nietzsche

♦♦♦♦

This is a delicious book to pick up in spurts — BMW punchy as Emerson is Rolls-Royce bubbly — but I couldn’t say what it’s chiefly about, where it starts, where it ends, how it fits in with Nietzsche’s other books, nor whether I’ve even read it before (I do remember particular points but perhaps they’re also mentioned in the other books). As usual this 19th-century giant sounds as if he writes… this morning.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

Newsweek excerpts Ronen Bergman’s upcoming book about the Mossad, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations. The chapter recounts an Egyptian missile program being developed by ex-Nazi engineers (comic-book nefarious!).

After failing to subvert it with mail bombs and intimidation, Israel recruited a high-living Hitler favorite and produced enough evidence — echoes of Netanyahu’s recent evidence cache on Iran’s nuclear program — to persuade the German government to take benign steps to intervene and halt the program.

The institutional fallout included Isser Harel’s ouster, the IDF coming in to rebuild, and it seems the resignation of Ben-Gurion himself.

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Having just seen Sam Smith on a televised weekend concert, I was reminded of Spectre and went and found a podcast episode where they satisfyingly eviscerate his lazy theme song, “The Writing’s on the Wall”.

Revenge of the Audience. In the comments after this Variety article about Solo, people consider why this movie is a box office disaster.

Watching Carrie Fisher tell her son about his Dad in Catastrophe, s3e6, she removes her glasses and her bitter old character eccentricities and we see just her face and eyes and she is as glittering onscreen as ever. Yet in the two new movies they gave her static scenes, which I think is a significant reason for Star Wars fatigue: what they did to the original troika in these new movies is distasteful.

I know why I didn’t see Solo: because The Last Jedi.

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

Reality-driven development: a good critique of agile in favor of kanban for software development.

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Prince William will make the first ever official tour of Israel by a member of the British royal family (Jordan first though).

I think this is quite a big deal; Britain has complicated feelings towards Israel — to wit, the country’s non-appearance to date in 25 James Bond movies.

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Michael Pollan’s everywhere-on-the-internet excursion into psychoactives is excerpted in The New York Times Magazine.

“I” now turned into a sheaf of little papers, no bigger than Post-its, and they were being scattered to the wind. But the “I” taking in this seeming catastrophe had no desire to chase after the slips and pile my old self back together.

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

From February 2016 to February 2018, global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius, reports Aaron Brown in Real Clear Markets. He notes that “none of this argues against global warming” as “the 1950s was the last decade cooler than the previous decade” but worries that “statistical cooling outliers garner no media attention”.

Great fun illustrated article on the aesthetics of Trumpism by Nick Hilton.

This next product, emblazoned with the number 45, looks more like a golfer’s baseball cap than a trucker’s … that styling — №45 in fancy serif font — would be perfectly at home on the label of a $100 bottle of scotch. Someone wearing this cap would not be immediately outing themselves as a ‘deplorable’ (as was, to a large extent, the appeal of the MAGA hat). It’s a flashback to a moment when the Trump brand was all about luxury hotels and links courses. No wonder it’s on sale.

Hilton also wrote a piece on Trump-based magazine covers.

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

The Closing of the Hi-Gloss Colonel of American Letters Tom Wolfe’s Eyes. The New York Times obituary by Deirdre Carmody and William Grimes.

Caroline Glick praises the genius of Trump’s recognition of Israel’s capital. I’d go further: its most important function is as the crowning piece of pressure on the Palestinians to finally strike a deal with Israel and end the existential conflict; it transforms East Jerusalem from a given they have pocketed into a prize they can win.

What a bonanza it will be when the Palestinians, like the surrounding Arab nations, finally acknowledge they are licked, and accept what they can get from intense genuine negotiations. There should be little shame in admitting defeat — after all, the combined armies of the Arab nations repeatedly failed to defeat Israel. The ideal models here are Japan and Germany, which, after defeat by the United States and the Allies, reconstituted themselves, moved on, and with their national genius become formidable in their own realms. The Palestinians too can become formidable, well positioned to become at very least the eternal prospering middlemen between powerful Israel and the wider Middle East.

70 years after independence, Israel is flourishing in nationhood and statecraft, with a burgeoning birthrate, economy, set of alliances; it has likely possessed nuclear weaponry since 1963, an ICBM global delivery system since 2008. Indeed, Israel under-projects its power; David Goldman accurately coined her a “pocket superpower”. All this means that as Israel strengthens and they weaken, the longer the Palestinians continue to hold off the less they will eventually get.

Up to now, the only pressure the Palestinians faced to encourage them to make a deal was Israeli settlements in the West Bank, bargaining chips being built in front of their eyes. Now under Trump, the USA has changed its approach and added its own diplomatic pressure to bear — epitomized by the Jerusalem recognition. More fundamentally, the region has changed; the Palestinians’ traditional patrons and enablers — Egypt and Saudi Arabia — have at the very least lost interest in their perpetual campaign against Israel.

This sea-change will hopefully lead the next generation of Palestinian leadership to realize that there is no longer any benefit to holding out (not that there ever was) and succeed in conveying this to the people. Here’s hoping, and to fruitful and harmonious דו-קיום (co-existence) sooner than we think possible.

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

Make it work, ‘cos you’ve got opposites.

Irit Levy

Friday, May 11th, 2018

It’s ominous yet futile, the Western media’s circumlocutions to avoid the traditional names of the various wars between Arabs and Israel. Here’s an example from today, “1 Gazan killed, 49 wounded by Israeli fire in border protest” by the Associated Press and posted at Yahoo (currently owned by Verizon). The paragraph in question:

Another large-scale protest is planned for Tuesday, when Palestinians mark their “nakba,” or catastrophe, referring to their mass uprooting during the Mideast war over Israel’s 1948 creation. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven out or fled homes in what is now Israel. More than two-thirds of Gaza residents are descendants of refugees.

I can’t remember when I last saw the capitalized term “Independence Day” in any international media news reports, nor the term “War of Independence”. Ditto for the Yom Kippur War, the Six Day War and the somewhat less heroic Sinai War.

I understand that these are inherently pro-Israel terms, told from an Israeli point-of-view. But they are vivid, concise, accurate, individuated terms. I’d also have thought that if they were transliterating Nakba they’d also be doing Yom Ha’atzma’ut in the vaunted name of balance. Moreover any war from which a nation-state arises deserves the term War of Independence.

“The Moment” is an occasional column/blog by novelist Amit Chaudhuri in The Paris Review.

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Jony Ive talks watches with the founder of the Hodinkee watch magazine.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

In the wake of America’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, an Israel-Iran war is unlikely but still…

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Even as the USA is troubled at the national level, it is often flourishing locally, argues James Fallows, who has spent five years criss-crossing the country with his wife.

“America is becoming more like itself again,” he writes. “More Americans are trying to make it so, in more places, than most Americans are aware.”

This is good, it seems to me; better than if the reverse were true.

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

I keep referring back to this article by Kyle Chayka — beautifully and ironically illustrated by Daniel Hertzberg — and in a nice homologue I keep forgetting the term it coins, airspace:

It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes.

The title says it’s sterile but is it? The word never appears within the article. Isn’t airspace more a vocabulary? Here in Brighton there are nasty pastiches of it (Tortilla: Real Californian Burritos and Tacos), lovely expressions (Gails Bakery) and sophisticated extensions (Smallbatch Coffee).

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Ben Thompson concisely contrasts Amazon and Apple. “I’m not sure that Amazon will beat Apple to $1 trillion, but they surely have the best shot at two.”

Eric Posner and Glen Weyl provide some diagnosis of and solutions for our new Gilded Age.

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Joss Whedon on making The Avengers: “There’s very little that I didn’t look at. It’s like, This is a Dr. Strangelove moment. This is The Abyss. This is His Girl Friday. It’s constant. You have to have all that stuff sort of in a blender in your head.”

“Jon [Favreau] said, ‘Look into his eyes. If you look into his eyes you will know. Is he being asked a question or is he asking the question?’” On the making of Iron Man’s HUD.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Ehud Yaari in The American Interest: “Israeli inaction came face-to-face with Iranian proactivity, and Israel now finds itself counting its losses even as the Syrian war winds down.” It seems we have been fighting the last war.

Jaron Lanier on social media: “We got into this by trying to be socialist and libertarian at the same time, and getting the worst of both worlds … we have to choose.”

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

“Our statement is a non-statement.” In this 2007 interview, Robert Culp (“the talent”) speaks of I Spy and his partner Bill Cosby (“the genius”).

Friday, April 27th, 2018

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un enters South Korea for a summit with President Moon Jae-in. They jointly plant a tree and sign a friendly declaration.

This review of The Jewish Joke: An essay with examples (less essay, more examples) has examples.

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

I liked Michelangelo because the obsessive and extreme torsion of his figures was so obviously derived from that of Jack Kirby.

Geoff Dyer, Comics in a Man’s Life

I can’t go for a few moments without sliding back my chair and gazing with massive self-love at my library.

Geoff Dyer, on books, in Unpacking My Library

Living abroad meant a move out of quotation marks.

Geoff Dyer, on books, in Unpacking My Library

Of course they should do it, what are they waiting for? Venice mulls charging for day-trippers — again.

 
 

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Newsroll

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