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Briefs

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

I’m with Thomas (now Giselle), as robust as it blimmin’ gets with his Empire for Liberty.

My own sort of wacky view about it is that the American Revolution was basically a dispute over the course and direction and ground rules of the Empire.

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Trump the Shibboleth Marauder: On August 31st, the State Department announced that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNWRA, the UN agency that has served to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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.

Sunday, August 19th, 2018

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

“Shouting ‘Peace, peace’ may actually push peace away,” argues game theorist and Nobel Economics laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann, New York-born head of the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at Hebrew University.

This is just about common sense — by that I mean it’s only a single twist of what Edward Luttwak calls the paradoxical logic of strategy. Yet perhaps there are further twists; I suggested one back in 2003 in “Allah Help the Jackals”:

Perhaps Israel is following a subconscious national strategy of the strong, in which it behaves too meekly for a decade or so, emboldens its vicious but feeble enemies until they go too far, then lashes out in a now-obviously-justifiable response and gains untold assets in the process.

Not to mention that the more time goes by, the more Israel strengthens and the Palestinians weaken.

This subconscious national strategy of delay by dint of wanting too hard, if it ever were effective, seems to have played itself out now, as demonstrated by Israel’s shift of focus towards undermining UNWRA, which plays such an underlying role in prolonging the conflict.

What with the Sunni warming to Israel and the supremely sympathetic Trump Administration, Israel it seems believes that allowing the conflict to fester for gradual gain has now become counterproductive, and so seeks a new path to end it.

All that notwithstanding, nothing ends until the Palestinians begin educating their children towards co-existence alongside Israel.

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.

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

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.

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 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.

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.

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

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.”

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

In “Syria – From a State to a Hybrid System: Implications for Israel” by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), authors Carmit Valensi, Udi Dekel and Anat Kurz write: “The problem can be managed but no solution can be expected … Syria will not revert to what it was … By means of coordinating with third parties, Israel will be able to influence trends…”

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

For 42 minutes Walter Russell Mead [transcript] puts not a sentence, not a word out of place — let alone an idea — in discussing the first year of the Trump presidency.

WRM is interviewed by Susan Glasser at The Global Politico [podcast] mainly through the prism of his book Special Providence, which divides American foreign policy into four schools: Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian, Wilsonian and Jacksonian.

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”

Conrad Black and Caroline Glick publish their Trump Declaration responses. Black says it all so well while Glick argues that this was a masterstroke on many levels. Conrad, Caroline: you’re with me.

Also Abraham Ben-Zvi briefly compares Trump’s defiance of his own government regarding Israel to that of Truman and Kennedy, rather propelling The Donald into the pantheon.

Marcus Pretzell is one German member of the EU Parliament who supports the declaration and says other do too but fear to speak up.

Finally, Rashid Khalidi’s response illustrates the unhappy thrashings-about of the opposing side.

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.

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Ivan Rogers, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU during David Cameron’s tenure as Prime Minister, speaks to the events leading up to the Brexit referendum. There’s so much detail, and we see where Cameron was succeeding, but nonetheless a failure happened here.

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Ever the definite optimist (to use Peter Thiel’s chart), Henry Kissinger argues that the North Korean crisis is an opportunity for the USA and China to get to know each other better as their deep cooperation is the only way to solve the issue. His basic position: China allows reunification, USA and Korea keep the north demilitarized. Unfortunately his can-do spirit (when Charlie Rose asks if he’s “optimistic”, he demurs and says he’s “hopeful”) is, it seems, suddenly of a bygone era.

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

This long magazine piece on the revolution in Washington lobbying affairs in the wake of Trump reads like a great fun tv show.

Friday, August 18th, 2017

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.

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

George Friedman, founder of Stratfor, explicates the constituent parts of Trump’s foreign policy views — for instance, that multiple bilateral agreements are preferable to multilateral ones (something Israel has always stuck to). Someone recently noted that you can’t point to any particular Washington thinktank and say that this is where Trump gets his views. This might have been meant disparagingly, but it also suggests that the new President has actually been thinking. Indeed, Friedman writes elsewhere that this more general level of thought is the most salutary for a successful presidency.

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.

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.

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, November 29th, 2016

Niall Ferguson on Kissinger on the Obama legacy and Trump prospects. Long, juicy, probably somewhat prescient, also a bit nutty.

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

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

On “the Weimar aspect of our current moment”: I haven’t read Andrew Sullivan for a long time, but he seems to be hitting it here, Democracies end when they are too democratic, in New York magazine.

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

“The real story of this election is that after several decades, American democracy is finally responding to the rise of inequality and the economic stagnation experienced by most of the population,” writes Francis Fukuyama in Foreign Affairs [requires free registration].

Friday, June 17th, 2016

As part of a series of articles on Israel in Foreign Affairs, Aluf Benn worries from the center-Left about crumbling social and political norms while Martin Kramer expresses satisfaction about ever-strengthening strategic might [requires registration, only 1 free article].

Friday, February 19th, 2016

In the wake of what seems to this layman to be unwisely tepid Western support, the Kurds of Iraq are building a relationship with Iran.

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran for the first time since 1989–92. Sudan follows. Blimey.

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

Who is the enemy to engage, Iran or ISIS? Lee Smith has an answer: Iran, because you can’t defeat ISIS without the Sunnis on board, and you can’t get Sunnis on board against ISIS until you demonstrably tamp down Iran.

Monday, November 9th, 2015

An excerpt from Dennis Ross’s book about US-Israel relations. This all seems believable, and fascinating as well.

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.

The latest Troika loan package is an “exact repeat of the self-defeating policy that caused Greek debt dynamics to spin out of control in the last two…” rues this astute, outraged commentator. What with the Iran deal as well, we seem these last couple of days to be watching the West’s self-immolation.

index topics foreign-policy foreign-policy

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)

Saturday, November 17th, 2018

“Respected journalist” Joel Golby has pulled off this rather spectacularly impressive series of mini-essays for Vice in Choose Your Own Adventure: Friday Night Edition!. More relevant for people say a quarter of a century younger than me but one can appreciate.

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

The more you keep your mouth shut, the more fertile you become.

Saul Bellow

If you don’t give literature a decisive part to play in your existence, then you haven’t got anything but a show of culture.

Saul Bellow

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

According to The Secret Anglo-French War in the Middle East by Prof. Meir Zamir, British Intelligence provoked the Arabs to invade Israel in 1948. The link is to an episode of the Tel Aviv Review podcast featuring Zamir.

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

A savvy 69-year-old Dutchman who “identifies as 45” aims to legally reduce his age.

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Concentration without effort is the heart of the thing.

Saul Bellow

America and I, both exceptional, would together elude prediction and defy determinism.

Saul Bellow

The degree to which you challenge your own beliefs and expose them to destruction is a test of your worth as a novelist.

Saul Bellow

Telling all is the function of intellectuals.

Saul Bellow

The historic task of a civilization is to remake the world in its own image.

Saul Bellow

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

In this survey of Palestinian opinion conducted 25-27 October 2018 in the West Bank and Gaza [.doc] by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University, there’s a drop in support for “the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders as a final solution for the Palestinian cause” from a mere 34.6% to a meager 16.4% if it includes “some land exchange”. But if they don’t want this, what do they think they can achieve that’s any better?

Important to consider: despite choice fatigue, users do benefit from some symbolic choices, this piece argues.

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

Species eradication and wiping out animal populations seem to me a more dire problem than mere climate change. It should be our environmental priority.

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

British influence in the EU has been far greater than recognised, this piece argues. If this was better understood in Britain — and if, say, the BBC had devoted a couple of hours a week to pure Europe news — I’m guessing Britons would be much more pro-Europe today and the Brexit own-goal would not have occurred.

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

The 1953 Bergren Residence, on the market for $2m, is a pretty Wrightian Lautner, especially around the fireplace.

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

itshello.co — clientless, open-source video chat in the browser.

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

You’re ♬ never ♫ too old ♬ to ♫ be young. “The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder Is 45” in the Harvard Business Review.

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

I’m with Thomas (now Giselle), as robust as it blimmin’ gets with his Empire for Liberty.

My own sort of wacky view about it is that the American Revolution was basically a dispute over the course and direction and ground rules of the Empire.

Friday, October 12th, 2018

Worrying that you’re late is one of the signs of a good idea.

Paul Graham, How to Get Startup Ideas

Hussein Agha, senior Fatah member, discusses at some length — and it seems to me with honesty — the prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

When Palestinians are close to reaching an agreement and are genuinely faced with giving up 78 per cent of their homeland, they feel surrender, so they recoil. Whenever Israelis find themselves at a similar point and try to justify giving up material assets in return for mere words, i.e. promises about future conduct, they recoil.

An interview at the impressive Fathom Journal with Lyn Julius, author of Uprooted.

The Jews were intrinsic to the rhythm of life in the Middle East. It all ended in the space of a generation. Some 850,000 Jews fled 10 Arab countries; most found refuge in Israel, where over half the Jewish population has roots in Arab or Muslim lands.

Try to do things that would make your friends say wow.

Paul Graham, “How to Do What You Love”

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Now that’s a web site: New York City tree map — every last one, including street view, species, diameter. [via Kottke]

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Friday, October 5th, 2018

The Power of Pull

John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, Lang Davison

♦♦

The core ideas are repeated so unabashedly often that distaste for the repetition makes me want to reject the ideas. Perhaps though repetition is deliberate, like in television commercials, working under the rhetorical theory that the reader will be irritated into remembering the message?

At any rate, the book posits three steps to getting anywhere: find the resources you need, attract others to your vision, and move at the appropriate pace to implement it. Crossing these three steps is the idea that innovation tends to occur not at the heart of things but at the edge, and so there must be an interplay between the incumbents and the hungry marginal outsiders. And the current business paradigm of digital transformation pumps up these perennial dynamics to where they must now be utilized as a framework.

The book’s blurbs are so hyperbolic and from such high-powered people, perhaps its simplicity is its power and the repetition worked on me: I dismiss the book merely because I understand it, and I understand it due to the repetition. And my understanding the book proves it a good one.

Since a few years have now passed since publication, some of the enterprises cited as exemplary wonders in the making, like Shai Agassi’s Better Places, have collapsed, giving further if unintentional insight into the topic.

You could argue that I missed the point entirely, in that I don’t even mention here the concept of “pull”. But that’s because to me it gradually lost any meaning, they used the term so often, and became a stand-in for “good”.

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Tim Berners-Lee announces his startup Inrupt to support and popularize Solid, a platform to enable people to regain control of their own data.

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

In case anyone else was mildly traumatized by the way fonts appear on MacOS Mojave due to the disabling of subpixel antialiasing, here’s the solution by Github user alexanderyakusik:

defaults write -g CGFontRenderingFontSmoothingDisabled -bool NO

Also, in System Preferences > General, check Use font smoothing when available.

Then reboot.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

More incredibleness: sefaria.org, a beautiful bountiful platform of the Jewish texts. What an accomplishment.

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

John Gruber’s Daringfireball reviews — no, essays — on The iPhones XS and Apple Watch Series 4 are a pleasure worthy of their subject matter. They feel informed, informal, thoughtful. “Series 4 is to Apple Watch what iPhone 4 was to iPhone,” Gruber writes. “The model that takes the original design to a new level.”

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

How did I not know about ribbonfarm all these years; truly I’ve been living under a rock for ages. Thoughtful, concise, erudite, relevant: Tendrils of Mess in our Brains by Sarah Perry.

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Million Dollar Consulting

Alan Weiss

♦♦♦

This most renowned book by the engaging Alan Weiss has a tone of practical, optimistic advice. Its title however is unfortunate as the first part may come off as cheesy while the second part comes off as only applying to consultants. Its subtitle, “The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice”, is more accurate; I was talking with an old friend who now has his own one-man legal practice and realized that pretty much all the book’s advice applies to him.

Although famous for advocating value billing rather than hourly, perhaps the book’s dominant concept is that you should invest your marketing energy in becoming a thought leader — in speaking and writing.

Weiss is a bit of a minor national treasure (despite hovering sometimes on the edge of bad taste — and I believe he is way sophisticated enough to understand exactly what he’s doing) and despite becoming slightly cranky in his more recent musings (not that I disagree with where he’s coming from, but political musings may be off-putting to others). He is a gifted writer in that having read his book you feel he is your friend looking out for you.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Premieres for the Rams doc by Gary Hustwit (of Helvetica) are being held all around America. The only cities where it’s sold out are: NY, LA and SF.

Monday, September 10th, 2018

When Judaism curls into something surely bonkers and even deleterious: Orthodox Jewish women shamed for long wigs. Ah, to cover one’s hair with… hair.

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

Never mind it being yet another acronym, this method humanizes selecting colors for the web: On Switching from HEX & RGB to HSL by CoDrops explainer extraordinaire Sara Soueidan.

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

I miss the days of forums, when any issue about a product was discussed on its own site and nowhere else. I do believe issues are better resolved online with posts, not chats.

Inappropriate use of chat software erodes mental health, at least, mine. Here’s a fun articulate essay on why the author hates Slack (and you should too).

And Slack is proprietory. I just scrolled up and was stopped and told I need a paid plan! And Discord: why?! Trendiness happens.

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Trump the Shibboleth Marauder: On August 31st, the State Department announced that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNWRA, the UN agency that has served to perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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.

“The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial” by Venkatesh Rao is the best thing I’ve read on the internet all year. I especially love his notion of being “above or below the API line”.

For more mediocrity theory, see his “Survival of the Mediocre Mediocre”: “Evolution is survival, not of the most mediocre (that would lead to paradox), but survival of the mediocre mediocre.”

Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

Spotting the Golden Ratio in the wild: At the end of their hairbrained Federation Plan for Israel and the Palestinians (minus Gaza, which would spoil the math), the authors state: “Jews and relatives of Jews, in this estimate, would comprise 62% of the population, while Muslim and Christian Arabs would total 37%.”

Monday, August 27th, 2018

Adventures of a Bystander

Peter F. Drucker

♦♦♦♦

Beloved creator of management, recipient of 25 honorary doctorates, Peter F. Drucker wrote his autobiography in the form of vignettes of spectacular individuals whom he encountered throughout his fabulous life from privileged childhood in Vienna, through journalism in Germany, banking in London, and over to America. It’s a book of overflowing humanity.

Friday, August 24th, 2018

“Modelling Process Intensive Scenarios for the Smart City” [PDF]. In this paper by professors at the computer science department at the University of Camerino in Italy, the authors discuss BPMN (and bpFM, which I’d never heard of before) in the context of municipal services, specifically bike-sharing.

Another perspective on bike-sharing, this time re usability, by mobile-first thought leader Luke Wroblewski.

“Service Design 101”, a primer by the Nielsen Norman Group.

Jake Shears at Concorde 2. Bloody missed it, is all.

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

Pinhas Inbari sheds new (to me) light on the roots of Palestinian nationalism, arguing that the similarities to Syria’s schisms are more than parallels but in fact the same issue: pan-Arabism (Fatah, Ba’athists) vs pan-Islamism (Hamas, ISIS).

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

Impressive mobile usability thought leader Josh Clark shares the tools he uses, from pen to Piwik (now Matomo).

This Globes article reports interesting stats re Israeli air traffic. After the domestic carriers, Wizz Air is the top airline by flights, Turkish Airlines by passengers. They’re followed by EasyJet and Aeroflot. Nasty rhetorical exchanges between the national leaders notwithstanding, the Turkish national carrier will soon operate 10 flights a day to Israel!

 
 

•••

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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