Saturday, October 16th, 2021
David P. Goldman blames the Web technocracy for the end of the American era, comparing it to how Britain lost dominance through the corruption of empire: by eschewing the true wealth creation of manufacturing.
Britain’s best and brightest left Eton and Harrow and went into colonial service, and made fortunes on the sale of British textiles to India, Indian opium to China, and Chinese tea and silks to the West. Britain’s country houses were built on the quick money to be earned from empire, and the British upper class eschewed the dirty work of manufacturing in favor of the faux-aristocracy of the nouveau riche masquerading as landed gentry.
The estimable Goldman is somewhat wrong here I think; web software is much more about conjuring up something from nothing, albeit an intangible digitized something, than it is just shunting stuff around at gunpoint, as he says late-Empire Britain did.
Thursday, September 30th, 2021
Sometimes you come across an essay you intended to write and somebody’s more or less done it for you, in this case an attempt to philosophize on the concept of work by Jonathan Malesic in the University of Virginia’s Hedgehog Review.
A few nights ago I considered for the first time the direct semantic connection between the troublesome English term “happy” and the less fraught “happening”; happily, there seems to be a connection between them that’s not mere happenstance. And here this essay begins to explicate that thought:
The Crow [a Native American tribe who live on the northern plains] built their culture around hunting buffalo and “counting coups”—an activity that encompasses both feats of bravery in war and recitations of stories about those feats. Once white settlers killed off the buffalo and placed the Crow under the US government’s jurisdiction in the 1880s, the basis for Crow culture was gone. “After this nothing happened,” the Crow chief Plenty Coups told a white historian decades later.
Sunday, September 26th, 2021
The ruling class’s campaign regarding public health, global warming, race, the rights of women, homosexuals, micro-aggressions, the Palestinians, etc. etc. have far less to do with any of these matters than with seizing ever more power for itself.
Angelo Codevilla, “The Covid Coup”
Tuesday, September 21st, 2021
Matt Stoller explains how one company, Varsity Brands (owned by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital), sucks life out of the American heartland with its grotesque monopoly on cheerleading.
Wednesday, July 7th, 2021
“China-US Relations In The Eyes Of The Chinese Communist Party: An Insider’s Perspective” [PDF] by Cai Xia at the Hoover Institution, June 2021 (via Ambrose Evans-Pritchard).
Since the 1970s, the two political parties in the United States and the US government have always had unrealistic good wishes for the Chinese communist regime, eagerly hoping that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the CCP’s rule would become more liberal, even democratic, and a “responsible” power in the world. However, this US approach was a fundamental misunderstanding of the CCP’s real nature and long-term strategic goals.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2021
Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine
Antonio Garcia Martinez
As author Antonio García Martínez battles away as an eager newcomer at Facebook, his account jolts one awake to the somewhat forgotten power of literature: we are reminded that what will survive these times will likely not be the mammoth trillion dollar company but instead this book.
And shame on Apple, caving to those who campaigned to have Martinez fired recently from his new job there because of some gross and silly yet heartfelt generalization in the book of San Francisco womenfolk; such philistine snowflakes do little more than buttress his point, as well as forcing our author to remain up on these more commanding if perhaps less remunerative cultural heights.
Friday, June 11th, 2021
Jordan and Israel need to exchange electricity for water. Jordan can produce green solar-powered electricity at 60% of the cost that Israel can, while Israel is the world leader in processing sea water into drinking water. Jordan is in dire need of more water due to a massive influx of refugees who aren’t going anywhere, while Israel needs green electricity to power those desalinization plants.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2021
A survey of American research on minimum wage by David Neumark & Peter Shirley at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Friday, January 1st, 2021
Cute, if harrowing: the no-longer economically viable Simpsons household, a piece in The Atlantic by Dani Alexis Ryskamp.
2020, the good news, by Doron Peskin at Israel’s Calcalist
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020
Friday, October 9th, 2020
Italians are used to cheap coffee (Perfect Daily Grind), which stays cheap because the beans are low-quality so profit margins are high. Can they change? Should they? It does seem like everyone benefits from the current ways.
Thursday, August 20th, 2020
The iPhone matters more than anything … it is the foundation of modern life.
Ben Johnson, “Apple, Epic, and the App Store”
Monday, June 15th, 2020
David Goldman produces a fact-filled yet overarchingly-theoried analysis of the mid-pandemic race-themed disturbances. Like for Palestinians, he argues it’s about humiliation. Goldman is sympathetic but not sycophantic, analytic but not caustic.
Sunday, May 24th, 2020
An anonymous employee beneficiary of Twitter’s IPO: “I think a lot of [people in Silicon Valley] care about basic income for everyone, because we’ve lived with it ourselves.”
Sunday, April 19th, 2020
Sunday, April 12th, 2020
In “The Unbearable Rightness of Trump”, the redoubtable Andrew Klavan recounts his erstwhile amusement watching the video mash-up of Trump saying “China”, only to realize later that the then presidential candidate was correct in his focus.
Klavan’s anecdote rings home precisely for me; I too was so amused that I showed the video to my son for laughs. When it matters most, and behind the weird performant exterior, Donald Trump’s vision pierces through the fog to the essence of a situation. That is why he is President.
Wednesday, April 8th, 2020
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
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…
Sunday, January 26th, 2020
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).
Labour is now populism for the lightly-educated middle-classes, argues John Gray with stonking cogency — and, it turns out a month later at the December 2019 election, accuracy. Until 2008 the Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, Gray has been referred to by one Nassim Nicholas Taleb as “prophetic”.
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.
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
George Friedman on Brexit: it is very likely to happen, as is the painful shift to increased ties with the Anglosphere.
Monday, October 7th, 2019
“Guidelines for Israel’s National Security Strategy” by Gadi Eisenkot and Gabi Siboni [PDF] published October 2019 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Sunday, October 6th, 2019
Erdoğan’s Turkey, once again neither winning friends nor influencing people, this time trying it on around the Eastern Med gas fields.
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.
Monday, August 26th, 2019
It’s a Kentucky Fried Miracle: KFC will sell meatless Beyond Fried Chicken.
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.
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
Saturday, June 8th, 2019
Monday, May 13th, 2019
A manifesto for the remaining sensible: “Tucker’s Right” by Michael Anton.
Friday, March 15th, 2019
Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2018 [PDF] by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Tuesday, January 1st, 2019
Chronicling from “below the API line”, as Venkatesh Rao calls it, are Austin Murphy with “I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I Deliver Packages for Amazon” in The Atlantic and Lauren Hough with “I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America” in The Huffington Post.
The depicted harshness of American work life for so many is terrible not just for those involved but for all. (Also these two share a prodigious unmet need to urinate on the job — is this the top new workplace tribulation?)
Monday, December 10th, 2018
The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success
This book seems like one for our times: a self-improvement topic given fresh life by being supported by social science data. There are sufficient surprising results — similar to say Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow — to warrant reading, despite, when stepping back and taking it on the whole, the thing feeling largely self-evident. But it is not, and probably deserves a reread.
Thursday, August 30th, 2018
“Breaking Smart” by Venkatesh Rao. This is the first collection, “Software is Eating the World”, inspired by a residency at Andreessen/Horowitz.
Monday, August 20th, 2018
David P. Goldman has been predicting this for years, and now it is happening (nudged along by Trump’s new steel tariffs): Turkey is in a horrible mess and likely to become a Chinese satrapy.
Contrast with George Friedman’s notion that Turkey will become a superpower, which to me seems comically misguided.
That said, Turkey does seem a fulcrum power, a bellweather of who dominates global affairs; if it falls to China’s influence, this is not great for the West.
To me, with my papercut exposure to Turkey, the fundamental problem is this: they are unsatisfied with being a nationstate. Instead, they want to be the local imperium, which cannot be. Turks, I say: apply your justified satisfaction with quotidian life to the national level. That way you will indeed make friends and influence peoples.
Perhaps Look to Britain for this, which once ruled much more than the Ottomans, but harbors no hopeless dreams to revive a moment in history.
Perhaps not coincidentally, both states are currently in some danger of a secessionist crack-up.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
Well, this an extravaganza of an article, practically a short book, on the American 9.9%.
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.
Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
Eric Posner and Glen Weyl provide some diagnosis of and solutions for our new Gilded Age.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2018
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.”
Saturday, April 7th, 2018
From 2014: The Economist introduces us to Sebastian de Grazia’s 1962 Of Time, Work and Leisure. Increasingly, leisure is not for the rich but for the poor.
Thursday, March 29th, 2018
A conversation with Kai-Fu Lee at edge.org. He’s an AI researcher who has worked at Apple, Microsoft and Google, and wrote AI Super-powers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order.
He believes SkyNet fears are ridiculous but that much needs to be done to handle the coming massive loss of jobs.
Thursday, March 15th, 2018
The Bloomsbury set thought about work and leisure, with ideas for today as we wrestle more universally with these issues.
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.
Friday, March 9th, 2018
Tyler Cowen has a modest proposal: polarized shopping. “You get better deals from the companies you patronize regularly, most of all from airlines and hotels. It requires only some stretch of the imagination to think that more of those programs could be organized around ideology.”
Monday, January 22nd, 2018
Amazon Go physical grocery store opens in Seattle, featuring no check-out.
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018
Sunday, December 31st, 2017