Saturday, October 19th, 2019
A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations
Written aphoristically, long-time Kyoto resident travel writer Pico Iyer provided me with a new view of a major people: that the Japanese exemplify Oscar Wilde’s catechism that style is substance, surface depth. One telling anecdote from his pal the Dalai Lama: when speaking to Western audiences, they perk up at the philosophy and tune out for the rituals; with the Japanese it’s the opposite. There are many more such reflections. One reviewer says the book is profound, and I guess that is the case, yes.
Monday, October 7th, 2019
Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
The sweaters of Succession. By Vulture.
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
The end of formal dining on Amtrak. The change is “driven by a desire to save money,” Amtrak said to The Washington Post, “and lure a younger generation of new riders — chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table.” Sad!
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
“Please just leave me alone when I cross streets.” Richard Stallman’s terms of service for speaking engagements come to light [via The Register] surrounding his forced terminations. A couple of observations: for 66 his skin looks amazingly moist and smooth, like a healthy 25-year-old’s, which perhaps says something about his lifestyle and choices. And his exactingness regarding these terms is both ridiculous and admirable; few things are more important than knowing who we are and what we want and expressing these clearly.
Sunday, May 26th, 2019
Goodbye, Judith Kerr, goodbye!
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?)
Tuesday, December 11th, 2018
A screed we need: “When Supplements Become Substitutes” by Joshua Mitchell in the redoubtable City Journal. This conceptual framework clarifies much of what Western societies are concerned about regarding themselves.
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.
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.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
Well, this an extravaganza of an article, practically a short book, on the American 9.9%.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
Thursday, May 31st, 2018
The Dawn of Day
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.
Friday, May 11th, 2018
“The Moment” is an occasional column/blog by novelist Amit Chaudhuri in The Paris Review.
Friday, April 27th, 2018
This review of The Jewish Joke: An essay with examples (less essay, more examples) has examples.
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.
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.”
Tuesday, March 6th, 2018
A review of the new disenchantment with our overly-enchanting digital lives by one Arianna Huffington of all people.
Tuesday, January 16th, 2018
If you read one brief op-ed piece this year, surely it must be Of Crudeness and Truth by Andrew Klavan in City Journal. “For Nurse Ratched, read Hillary Clinton, CNN, The New York Times, Yale University, Twitter, and Google/YouTube —— all the tender ministers of polite silence and enforced dishonesty. If Donald Trump’s boorishness crashes like a bull through the crystal madhouse of their leftism — well, good. It’s about time.” Like other forms of tyranny, at first we found political correctness amusing. One consequence of it: this risky presidency.
Wednesday, January 10th, 2018
Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
In what seems a common pattern, Jony Ive started early, eschewing the liberal education of say Oxbridge, instead selecting the most renowned college in the field in which he was already winning prizes: industrial design. And this great achiever of our times grew up under the happy and mighty influence of his father, an educator who rose to prominence due to character and a drive to bring design literacy to British education.
The bulk of this book about Ive constitutes one of the stronger, more detailed histories we have of Apple itself, told mainly from the perspective of the IDg, the internal design group he leads. We learn for instance that in order to meet Steve Jobs’ deadline for creating the iMac — the first product upon Jobs’ return and which revived the company — they needed to streamline the product process by making the files of the design software interoperable with those of the manufacturing software.
Someone says Ive is even less replaceable at Apple than Jobs. This isn’t quite fair because Jobs worked to make himself replaceable. Let’s hope Ive does as well.
Monday, September 4th, 2017
Great stuff: professional poker champion Phil Hellmuth on everything while Tim Ferriss tries to interview him for the podcast.
Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
Nice little piece about marriage: change is the constant.
Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
“Yesterday we had a fight about whether I’d been dismissive about him saying his feelings had been hurt by my dismissing his feelings during a previous fight…” From the amusing but very dark Narcissism: a reflection by Laura Kipnis in Spiked.
Monday, January 30th, 2017
Fast, clear, cogent, respectful, dominating — what a performance Hugh Hewitt recently gave on Charlie Rose. He even asked Charlie a couple of times what he thinks, and it quickly became two chummy top media guys sharing ideas, not a mainstream media star interviewing a right-wing kook.
Hewitt managed to work in his career in government — which was all very long ago — and the very many people he knows, but without the name-dropping being the point of his responses. He called Charlie Charlie often enough that Charlie finally called him Hugh. “Great to have you,” Charlie ended it. “Good [ie, maybe not so great] to be here,” the response.
I listen pretty regularly to The Hugh Hewitt Show and it would be nice if we could get this fast-talking, super-smart, reasonable and sophisticated guy instead of the dumbed-down base-cultivating borderline bully we sometimes get on his home turf.
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.
Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
Speed of Dark
I was brought to this most non-sci-fi of sci-fi novels by the Brighton Science Fiction Discussion Group. Narrated in character by its autistic protagonist, Speed of Light initially reminded me of Mr Robot. Yes, I did like it, but wasn’t sure if the thinness of the other characters is due to our narrator’s limitations or those of the author; I don’t know her other work so can’t say. A mostly unsentimental decency permeates — actually it’s an exploration of decency — which gives it an appreciable pre-cyberpunk, almost square feel.
Saturday, August 6th, 2016
Nicholas Dames’s Publications page. The man is Professor of Humanities at Columbia University and a mine of gems.
Sunday, April 10th, 2016
Guilty, very guilty as charged. This study says those who call out grammatical errors are in fact scientifically ‘jerks’.
Monday, March 7th, 2016
Eddie was more than a hero, Mrs Meechum. He was our friend.
Claire Underwood in House of Cards
Friday, February 5th, 2016
Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
So Bikram has lost the first of the many cases against him filed by women for various sexually-related offences. All I know is that his teachings are great and that he plays the guru, speaking in fanciful exaggerations, making mercurial observations. And it seems he was unable to switch off this character even in front of a jury.
Friday, May 22nd, 2015
On decoupling homosexuality from gayness, and more interestingly, vice versa.
Saturday, May 16th, 2015
Once they see it they say, Oh is that the thing? And I say, Yes it is the thing. And they ask, Has it changed your life? And I shrug. And they are so disappointed.
Sunday, April 19th, 2015
A sharply written discussion of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina in Commentary Magazine: “It is not exactly that Stiva has a bad memory. Rather he has an excellent forgettory.”
Saturday, April 4th, 2015
Why don’t you both go make some coffee.
Jane Smith in Mr & Mrs Smith
Sunday, April 6th, 2014
The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
A fearsomely refreshing list of what the author has learned in her 40s. Enjoyable if you’ve reached the age, and I wonder if edifying for those yet to.
Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
On Google Glass:
What happens in Vegas stays… at Google.
Monday, November 16th, 2009
Friday, March 13th, 2009
Great for Lost fans: a compilation of characters saying “What?” Similarly, Fucking Midnight Run (loved the movie but hadn’t remembered the preponderance of the term). Fuck it, see the original post of video collections at the brilliant Waxy. Also, Fucking Pulp Fiction. With this one you can almost follow the plot of the movie!
Wednesday, August 6th, 2008
I’m Paris Hilton and I approve this message “because I think it’s totally hot.”
Wednesday, December 18th, 2002
The interest of tone is the interest of manners, and the interest of manners is the interest of morals, and the interest of morals is the interest of civilization.