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Briefs

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, hidalgos and Iagos, may it please you to join Andrew Klavan on this sharp essay through racism and religion via Shakespeare.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Next step in the Trump strategy for wrapping up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: US cuts payments to UNRWA by about half.

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.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

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.

Wednesday, November 9th, 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.

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Possibly the world’s most important story at the moment? American middle-class impoverishment, or as the author—himself afflicted—calls it, financial impotence.

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Quite the sentence, this, from Walter Russell Mead: “Products of meritocratic selection who hold key positions in the social machine, the bien-pensant custodians of post-historical ideology—editorial writers at the NY Times, staffers in cultural and educational bureaucracies, Eurocratic functionaries, much of the professoriat, the human rights priesthood and so on—are utterly convinced that they see farther and deeper than the less credentialed, less educated, less tolerant and less sophisticated knuckle-dragging also-rans outside the magic circle of post-historical groupthink.”

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

A week in Berlin, where all anyone can talk about is refugees, and the author observes: “All this moral unction reminds me of the reality-challenged 1920s in Europe, which gave rise to the very ugly 1930s.”

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.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

On the touchy (for me) topic of Anglo accentim (or is that accentiot?) in Hebrew. Huge comments section to a short (follow-up) piece.

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Chomsky denied entry into Israel. Personally I hope his ticket was non-refundable.

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilizations

Lee Smith

♦♦♦

A rich mixture of travelogue, history and policy pamphlet that is ultimately more of the former than the latter, it casts itself as a critique of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, but isn’t really. Rather, it’s a diving in. A lively and exciting diving in. I did want it to be longer than it is.

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

The Cameron Way: What American conservatives should learn from the British Tory leader, by Joseph Loconte in National Review.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Condi Rice, for the hour, on Charlie Rose. What a babe at 54. “The United States is too big a country, too important a country, too gracious a country to have permanent enemies.”

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Check out the global intifadah: close footage of bad Arab vandalizing Swedish police vans outside the tennis stadium where an Israeli player was competing.

index topics immigration immigration
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, April 21st, 2018

We have entered an uncanny valley of algorithmic culture. I believe it’s still easy to step out of, but even easier not to. And maybe it’s merely a speeding up of how things have always worked.

In Amtrak’s magazine The National, alum David Schisgall welcomes the College’s new overlordettes, for in July 2018, after years of legal wrangles and decades of dusty nazal-gaving, Deep Springs will go co-ed.

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Another nice ongoing Grauniad series, this one where authors and writers describe their typical writing day.

The Paris Review compiles interviews from its archives on writing while under an influence.

Eventually I get down to writing and then the real problems begin.

Italo Calvino

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Camels are surprising enough on the face of it, but so, really, is everything.

Paul J. Griffiths, “Letter to an Aspiring Intellectual”

Brian X. Chen, technology writer at The New York Times, checks what data Facebook and Google have on him and provides links to do your own. “Be warned,” he concludes. “Once you see the vast amount of data that has been collected about you, you won’t be able to unsee it.”

Google for instance, keeps a record of every time you open an app on an Android phone, Facebook of whom you unfriended when.

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.

It’s nice to see Slant Magazine praise something fulsomely and in detail: Chuck Bowen on Billions, Season 3.

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

A potted history by the Begin-Sadat Center of the burgeoning Greek-Israeli relationship.

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.

Covering Hamas’s border assault, The New York Times has run two rather spectacular photos by Gazan photographer Mohammed Salem. I realize that such imagery is what this whole nasty malarkey is for, but a great pic says many things.

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Slack: “meeting-izing” the entire workday. Me, I’ve tried to dip in but like with Twitter I just can’t take the multitudinous inputs.

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Since I’m returning to it for some refreshment, time to add the link: “How to Use Clashing Fonts” by Jonathan Hoefler. “It’s often the dialogue between typefaces that most effectively communicates how information is meant to be understood.”

Saudi heir to throne: “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land.”

So I’m sitting at a cafe with my elder boy, me with my iPhone and the iClever keyboard, he the iPad (yes, addled addicts both). I’ve been here before but he hasn’t and he needs the wifi password.

As he’s asking me for it, I get a popup on the iPhone asking if I want to share the password with him. I hit Yes and the password pops into the form over on the iPad. Sometimes Apple blows you away beyond what you even expected.

(On the other hand, there is “iOS, The Future Of macOS, Freedom, Security And Privacy In An Increasingly Hostile Global Environment”, an analysis of the worryingly unnecessary level of data detail that Apple has about us; I suppose it’s those whom we trust whom we really must worry about.)

Transparent aluminium, coming soon enough no doubt to an iPhone near you.

In this interview Ursula K. Le Guin provides a rather thorough little course on the craft of fiction, covering present vs past tense, first-person vs omniscient narration, conflict as action.

“Henry James did the limited third person really well, showing us the way to do it. He milked that cow successfully. And it’s a great cow, it still gives lots of milk. But if you read only contemporary stuff, always third-person limited, you don’t realize that point of view in a story is very important and can be very movable. It’s here where I suggest that people read books like Woolf’s To the Lighthouse to see what she does by moving from mind to mind. Or Tolstoy’s War and Peace for goodness’ sake. Wow.”

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Twice entranced: Finlay of Arabia. These guys seems to be the Banksy Neturei Karta.

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.”

For a variety of reasons, in many countries around the world, dishwashers are not popularly used appliances.

Here in Britain, they’re considered a luxury not a necessity. Some 20% of Americans report that they don’t use their dishwasher.

I remember reading that Shimon Peres said he liked doing the dishes — it was his thinking time. Is that what everybody’s doing?

Otherwise, why not a dishwasher if you live in an economy where they are affordable and not in a city where you eat out every meal? It’s more economical, it’s less work; it seems a no-brainer. To stand for an hour or so every evening manually scrubbing? Not as arduous as washing clothes but still something that the machine’s been doing a lot better job of for decades. Huh.

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.

What did Jews tend to die of? The entry on morbidity in the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906.

Friday, March 30th, 2018

Though the photos aren’t of the best quality, here are some artistic Seder plates. חג שמח!

What a refreshing perspective in this must-read piece: “Israel is a democracy because democracy was the only mechanism that was available to mediate and settle the fierce debates about what it meant to be the Jewish state.

Therefore: “Just as having no choice in war has meant that Israel had to win, having no choice but to be a democracy has meant that over time, Israel has become one of the world’s most successful and effective democracies.”

When Galileo looked up at the night sky with his new-fangled teslescope one profound effect was the dislodging of the nonsensical metaphysical notion from Aquinas of the perfection of the stars.

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.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

In Israel, food prices are down 5% while salaries are up 3%, though food still costs 19% more than the OECD average.

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

It’s Tim Ferriss’s most soulful interview yet: Jack Kornfield, a guru who talks the talk, walks the walk, sat the sit. With a great selection in the shownotes of links and people mentioned.

As these two leaders discuss morning practices, I’m struck by how many of the perspectives and attitudes they hope for are nicely handled by the Jewish morning prayers.

Craig Mod’s interview with Offscreen Magazine. “In my life, America is three locations: New York City, the Bay Area, and Asheville in North Carolina.” This writer/designer, who first impressed me with his review of the Apple Watch, lives in a small coastal town in Japan — some sort of digital-hipster James Bond. Things are very considered.

Vincent Gallo Sings by one Vincent Gallo. “I know what I look like. It’s certainly not how I would have made myself look. Don’t blame me.”

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Two British Jewish boomers, Simon Schama and Martin Goodman, write new histories of Judaism, Schama focusing on individuals, Goodman on ideas and practices.

On artists with jobs. “That’s job jobs, the kind you hear about in stump speeches.” Speaking personally, I believe I knew a long time ago that this is a good path but I lacked the gumption to maybe be bored some of the day.

POSSE at indieweb stands for “Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere”. It’s a content publishing model that starts with posting content on your own domain, then syndicating out copies to 3rd-party services with permashortlinks back to the original. It’s the model I pursue.

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Here’s one thing today’s richest man does: hold a spaceflight/robot-themed conference.

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.”

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Ward Nicholson summarizes the current state of play regarding web typography. He mentions my two go-to Adobe plugins, BalanceText and Dropcap, both of which will eventually be part of CSS.

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Enjoying a nice independent bookstore, Wilfred M. McClay suddenly feels microbetrayed by their abuse of the term “curate”. A nice little one lamenting PC language.

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

Check it out, How We Made, a weekly series by The Guardian interviewing two collaborators on a seminal work of art — from 2001: A Space Odyssey to the Swatch watch.

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

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.

 
 

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