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Water Tank with a Fan iPhone 6S Kiryat Ono, Israel Sunday, October 2nd, 2016.

Spit, Polish & Ruin
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Spit, Polish & Ruin iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Wednesday, May 30th, 2018.

The Center Holds
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The Center Holds iPhone 6S Israel Saturday, April 15th, 2017.

Water Tank with a Fan
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Water Tank with a Fan iPhone 6S Kiryat Ono, Israel Sunday, October 2nd, 2016.

Rarin’
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Rarin’ iPhone 6S Tel Aviv, Israel Friday, September 30th, 2016.

Only for You
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Only for You iPhone 6S Tel Aviv, Israel Friday, September 30th, 2016.

Green Tea
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Green Tea iPhone 6S Herzlia, Israel Thursday, September 29th, 2016.

Groupings
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Groupings iPhone 6S Herzlia, Israel Thursday, September 29th, 2016.

Mouth of the Crocodile River
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Mouth of the Crocodile River iPhone 6S Monday, September 26th, 2016.

Marina Cluster
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Marina Cluster iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Wednesday, March 16th, 2016.

Mystic Morning
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Mystic Morning iPhone 4S Hod Hasharon, Israel Thursday, June 11th, 2015.

Get Thee to a Pitzutzia
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Get Thee to a Pitzutzia iPhone 4S Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel Saturday, May 30th, 2015.

Melancholy and The Channel
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Melancholy and The Channel iPhone 4S Brighton, East Sussex, England Friday, December 5th, 2014.

Make Like a Tree
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Make Like a Tree iPhone 4S Stanmer Park, Brighton, East Sussex, England Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014.

The Lay and the Land
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The Lay and the Land Olympus C5050 Judean Hills, Israel Sunday, August 2nd, 2009.

Early Morning Ein Bokek
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Early Morning Ein Bokek Olympus C5050 Ein Bokek, Israel Friday, April 11th, 2008.

Good morning and angels
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Good morning and angels Nokia 6630 Friday, September 22nd, 2006.

Jam on the morning walk
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Jam on the morning walk Nokia 6630 Villa Pamphili, Monteverde, Rome, Lazio, Italy Sunday, June 11th, 2006.

Here by the pier
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Here by the pier Nokia 6630 Brighton, East Sussex, England Monday, April 17th, 2006.

Monday morning and happy to be back
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Monday morning and happy to be back Nokia 6630 London, England Tuesday, November 8th, 2005.

Like a Rock
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Like a Rock Olympus C5050 Judean Hills, Israel Sunday, August 15th, 2004.

Guts’ Best
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Guts’ Best Olympus C5050 Even Sapir, Israel Sunday, July 11th, 2004.

Cinematheque Caller
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Cinematheque Caller Olympus C5050 Jerusalem, Israel Tuesday, June 29th, 2004.

Morning sky
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Morning sky Olympus C5050 Even Sapir, Israel Sunday, June 20th, 2004.

Morning with Rockies
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Morning with Rockies Olympus C5050 Colorado Sunday, May 2nd, 2004.

•••

About

Briefs

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life

Sari Nusseibeh

♦♦♦♦

Nusseibeh’s central thesis (well, secondary thesis, the primary implicit one being that the Palestinian people should all along have appointed both his Dad and then him their oh-so-reluctant leaders) I too have felt almost in my bones: that Israelis and Palestinians are natural allies. Or, more accurately, that there’s a natural affinity which will enable us to be powerful allies if and when we ever get over our admittedly fundamental conflict.

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Dore Gold primes us on why Israel must retain the Jordan Valley. Like the Golan, it’s not only about strategic depth but also strategic height. When driving down the magnificent road along the Dead Sea from Jerusalem to Ein Bokek, I would often loftily complain that one wouldn’t know one has exited Israel proper as there are no signs, just a little roadblock upon entering Ein Bokek (and a much more significant one upon reentering Jerusalem near the city limits). Whenever there’s no sign, it’s a sign that the State has deemed this land integral yet history has not yet ripened sufficiently for declaring it so.

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Latitudinal psychology? “Like happiness, [individualism and creativity] trend higher as one moves away from the equator.”

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

This Gates Foundation presentation on global inequality is clear, straightforward, well-written, nicely illustrated with animated graphs, and surely worth the time of anyone who can access it.

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Friday, May 11th, 2018

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

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Monday, December 4th, 2017

On the EconTalk podcast recorded recently on stage in New York, Simeon Djankov speaks to the global Doing Business Report that he produces annually at the World Bank. This is world-improving stuff by dint of managed competition. It would be cool to see a a canonical BPMN version of each process.

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Now that it’s over, time to tell the neo-medievalists: hurricanes are not new to Florida. Nicely researched and written piece by a chagrined resident.

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Friday, July 7th, 2017

What Cuba is like now, after the thawing with the United States. J. S. Tennant in The White Review.

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

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

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars; it’s where the rich use public transportation.

Petro Gustavo, Mayor of Bogota

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

An inviting tour of the Hebrew writer’s oeuvre as Shai Agnon is translated into English. [via aldaily.com]

Monday, July 11th, 2016

These small things—nutrition, locality, climate, recreation, the entire casuistry of selfishness—are inconceivably more important than everything that has hitherto been considered important.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

There can only be religion where there is a desert country.

Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

From this BBC article: “It’s surprising how often the UK seems to be more like the Scandinavian countries than anywhere else.”

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Monday, January 5th, 2015

0n the 70s forty years later: “The depression can seem not like confinement but a kind of freedom; the aimlessness can seem like spaciousness, a shambling kind of grace.”

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. The dawn is my Assyria; the sun-set and moon-rise my Paphos, and unimaginable realms of faerie; broad noon shall be my England of the senses and the understanding; the night shall be my Germany of mystic philosophy and dreams.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Considering how central it is for Londoners, Why is the Tube so underrepresented in stories? The writer suggests that, like sex and prayer, and unlike on the street, any human significance down there is internal.

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

“Cheese-surrendering eating-monkeys” — apologies for giving away the most brilliant line, but Mark Steyn is back on form. I’d stopped reading because his doom and gloom about Europe just didn’t jibe with the reality I see living here. But here he expresses my misgivings just brilliantly: Americans are in many important ways less free than Europeans.

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Mercer’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2012. Most expensive: Tokyo. London is #25, Tel Aviv #31, New York #33, and Rome #42.

Exhaustive and wonderful list of what Alli Magidsohn expects to miss upon leaving Israel after 7 years, published by the impressive David Horowitz’s new The Times of Israel. (Not so sure about “the ferocity of celebration here” though, at least among the non-religious.)

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

“Nation on the Move” is the magnificent second episode of the America Revealed PBS series. Interestingly, the show is British-made.

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

On hotels and the delectable feeling of dépaysé.

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Vivid, loving portrait of the beach at Brighton that gets in some of my own favorites, like Jack and Linda’s Smokehouse.

Monday, May 16th, 2011

All good things come to those who wait (and spend $250m). The iconic Hiriya garbage dump is set to become Ariel Sharon Park.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

A graduate moves to India for work. That ain’t America.

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.

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

WRM coins a classical term, Lycabettus, for one’s own personal vantage point.

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

The Beginning of Wisdom

Leon R. Kass

♦♦♦♦

The book of the Book. I am biased but there is just so much here, and the good doctor is such graciously juicy writerly company. I especially like the Babel treatment.

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Language extinction – Fall/full-McWhorter-Fall-2009.html, a case for not getting too upset by.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Tuesday, February 18th, 2003

I can’t live in a place where dogs require leashes. On the other hand, I need to be within walking distance of a cafe.

ASK

index topics place place

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)

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

Trump at Mount Rushmore: “We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright Brothers, the Tuskegee Airmen, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, General George Patton, the great Louie Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Mohammad Ali.”

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Amalgamated from a dialog in the comments at a Marginal Revolution post “How to Live in a World Gone Mad?”:

The mob is saying silence is violence. Funnily enough, the mob also says speech is violence. They also say violence is not violence.

Fun, fun, fun!

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Cancelled Canadian Hal Niedzviecki is still at it, as deliciously elucidated in the rather literate comments.

Jordan Peterson is back, warning that the hard sciences are next.

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020

Theodore Dalrymple on “Silence is violence”, “No justice, no peace”, and other ominous bits of what he coins moral thuggery.

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Capping off a triumvirate of essays I’ve come across in the past few days that elucidate the current moment is Ross Douthat on the successor ideology.

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, June 14th, 2020

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

The problem is that you have people who are so exhausted from their lousy diets and poor lifestyles, that the idea of putting any effort into anything is overwhelming.

Alan Goldhammer, Is Water Fasting Safe? In-depth Interview w/ Dr. Goldhamer & Dr. Group

Most of the food in the grocery store is nothing more than a few heavily subsidized grains like wheat, corn and soy cooked with oil, salt and sugar, and smashed together in different forms — that’s essentially what people are eating.

Alan Goldhamer, Is Water Fasting Safe? In-depth Interview with Dr. Goldhamer & Dr. Group

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

“Who is an Arab Jew?” is an essay by Albert Memmi written in 1975.

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

Rejecting “false equivalency between rule of law and rule by law”, the USA has published its Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

“Opposing an aspiring Eurasian hegemon is the American prime strategic directive.” Donnelly’s back!

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

The editor of Spiked castigates the media for misreporting facts on Dominic Cummings’ lockdown behavior. But Brendan O’Neill’s focus on possibly disingenuous facts misses the larger disheartening truth.

Which is that a senior head needs to roll for the UK Government’s humiliating and deadly botching of its initial response to the pandemic. (That many of the leaders themselves contracted the disease is emblematic of this failure.)

Since elections will not be held for years, the next best thing to the PM’s head is that of his high-profile advisor. And this is fitting: as the great visionary and strategist, Cummings should have been the one who got the PM to take the pandemic seriously in good time.

So the details of Cummings’ hypocritical behaviours under lockdown are merely the pretext for some just humiliation for him and this Government. His firing would be the catharsis that marks entry into the next phase of this pandemic; indeed these are political norms. Instead however we slouch further into uncharted territory — political as well as medical and economic.

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Sauna: The Finnish Bath

H J Viherjuuri

♦♦♦

Even in English translation, this relatively slim definitive work on Finnish sauna is filled with the dignity that seems to come with everything Finland. The author notes that the Finnish way of hot bathing — heating rocks and occasionally pouring water on them to produce steam — is the only one that can be both dry and wet.

Something new to me is that feet can take — and require — more heat than the rest of the body, so that not only should one be mostly prone in the sauna rather than sitting in order to heat the body equally (the hotter parts of a sauna are closer to the ceiling), but the feet can be even higher, so that a ledge or feet stirrups might be good.

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

“We’ll be lucky if we just get a cold war.” Nouriel Roubini seems on the money that we’re outta money.

He says it’ll be a decade of depression, but why even only a decade? Covid-19 aside, massive change is coming, because Peak Stuff.

So a thought: why must retail be the heart of the economy? What if we were to become a civilization not of shopkeepers, nor even of marketers, but researchers?

Marketing could move from the core to the margins, with us only buying what we need, which is a lot less than what we’ve been buying to date, while taxes — collected on the profits gathered by a select few conglomerates manufacturing super efficiently with automation — pay for tons and tons of scientific research.

Most people being scientists: perhaps less chimera than inevitability?

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

John Gruber awakens me to the difference between coding and programming. Coding is a means to a more distant end, the software product, whereas programming has a nearer end, a program.

A program is a thing worthy itself of attention and appreciation, whereas code, lacking the definite article, is not.

technovelgy.com, where science meets fiction, and a glorious taste of the old web.

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Deep Work

Cal Newport

♦♦♦

I’m doubt there’s much in Deep Work by Cal Newport that I didn’t already know, but I nonetheless had a hankering to see these ideas conveyed in an organized and impassioned way. My own way of working is already akin to what Newport suggests — for instance I disabled push email on my laptop years ago, and stopped using social media a couple of years ago.

Although he refers quite frequently to David Allen and GTD, one thing he does encourages that is not a GTD emphasis is setting time limits to work sessions with a view to working quicker — like say the Pomodoro Technique but not necessarily stuck on 25-minute periods.

I personally have eschewed this because I feel that with my work, you keep plugging away until the problem is solved. But I do see that there are many benefits to limiting the time on a task, one of them being (though I don’t think Newport mentions this) that it can make the task feel less onerous and intimidating if you know you’re only going to need to work on it for a limited period of time.

One immediate application for me was to start working on a somewhat mindless administrative task that normally takes me one or two full boring days. I realize that if I work on it an hour a day for a week or so, it will be all in all less onerous (and on time).

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.”

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

Launch

Jeff Walker

♦♦

So now I understand the source of the myriad of preposterously-priced online courses I come across with preposterous limited-time-only sign-ups. Preposterously-priced because they are book projects broken up into series of articles or videos then priced an order of magnitude or two higher than a book; and preposterously time-limited because these are digital products and so can be purchased at any time. They are from the “secret formula to sell almost anything online” from this book Launch by Jeff Walker.

To be fair, Walker stresses that limited-time-only purchasing should be a genuine constraint resulting from the nature of the product, even if many acolytes seem to ignore this part. And his general admonition that a product launch matters and requires much preparation is something to take seriously. But I think regarding a SaaS, launches can be multiple and almost irrelevant to the product itself; launches are marketing activities that can be about any new feature no matter how trivial.

But I’m not responding directly to the book here, rather to my irritation at what it spawned. There is some good marketing advice here certainly, it’s just that I don’t find marketing very interesting. More fool me.

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

SARS-CoV-2 apparently interferes with the body’s one-two process of knocking out a virus, reports Stat News on discoveries made by Benjamin tenOever of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The virus blocks the production of interferons by infected cells, which slows down viral replication. But the signal to bring in killer cells goes unabated. The result is an arms race of virus and inflammatory cytokines within the lungs. Ingestion of interferons could redress this problem.

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Hail Freedonia, a Covid-19 vaccine is in sight! Hail Moderna, hail Massachusetts!

Sunday, May 17th, 2020

The Making of Prince of Persia

Jordan Mechner

♦♦♦

Video game maker Jordan Mechner wrote a rich diary of his life in the mid-1980s. This book covers the creation his second hit game, Prince of Persia, so we gain access of unique immediacy to the heroic tale of producing a universe-dent-making hit.

I wanted this book, which I discovered via Tyler Cowen’s most recent What I’ve been reading, as inspiration during a small lull in morale as I work on a digital product of my own.

Thirty years on there is some poignancy in that this early period of Mencher’s life was the peak: after graduating Yale, already dreamily successful, he shuttles between San Francisco and Hollywood creating video games and pushing screenplays, a digital Orson Welles (in his later game The Last Express, Mechner combines these passions, relying on cinema to produce an impressive commercial failure).

That said, perhaps it is no failure at all that one can point to the creative peak of a life — Mechner’s arguably was working within the memory constraints of the Apple II to create a foe, Shadow Man, based on the hero character. Here I’m reminded of Ken Kocienda’s not dissimilar Eureka moment when up against a constraint, that of using a dictionary to help create the iPhone keyboard.

Perhaps it would have been a better book if he had fleshed out the journal with an italicized retrospective written now, but count me a late-arrival Jordan Mechner fan. And don’t get the Kindle edition lacking the illustrations; I think I’m gonna need to buy the actual book.

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

The comfort of having an organization is largely illusory; it still comes down to one programmer in the end.

Jordan Mechner, The Making of Prince of Persia

In the morning I put in the stair-climbing, and in the evening, the sword-sheathing.

Jordan Mechner, The Making of Prince of Persia

Monday, May 11th, 2020

What a fandango by Tel Avivi Hagai Farago.

Saturday, May 9th, 2020

Writing in The New Atlantis, Yuval Levin explicates in “Prudence in a Storm” the terrible opportunity cost of the politics of partisan catastrophizing:

We should be capable of seeing the difference between a crisis rooted in a chronic problem that demands to be addressed within the normal bounds of our political culture and a rare, extreme emergency that requires us to suspend some of the usual frameworks of our politics and mobilize massively but temporarily to respond.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

The biggest balagan ever, the USA’s flailing then failing pandemic response:

By the time the virus broke on American shores, the problem was not that the United States didn’t have a single plan for an international pandemic. The problem was it had dozens of plans, totaling thousands of pages, issued by different agencies and by different administrations, apparently with little thought to how they would be combined or who would implement them.

Friday, April 24th, 2020

Some reflections on the pandemic by Yuval Levin:

Rather than a sense of mutual dependence … we might walk away from this crisis as even more capable loners.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

More people will die from Covid-19 because we cannot study drugs more quickly, writes Matthew Herper in STAT.

Yes. Anonymized data from all patients should be accessible to all. The social media giants have demonstrated that it can be done — data entered from all over the world into a single system that produces meaningful output. Indeed, the web is the perfect medium for it. Rather than setting up trials to evaluate the efficacy of a treatment, researchers could instead be checking the global treatment knowledgebase.

Using their web-connected devices, registered medical practitioners would log each step of a patient’s treatment as it happens; in medicine a new understanding would take hold that the practice is to both treat the individual at hand and publish that treatment because every facet of every case history can contribute to a myriad of studies.

A standards body could set the data model that is a medical case. Presumably the model would emanate out to include such information as the identity of the treating hospital, so that, eg, the geographical locale can be factored in by researchers.

One problematic aspect of a case is the patient’s anonymized identity, required for factoring in pre-existing conditions. A new price of our medical care would be its worldwide publicization, and the understanding that motivated organizations could connect even anonymized medical data with other aspects of a person’s life, such as a cessation of credit card use during hospitalization. Yet given what we now see is the catastrophic fallout of a pandemic, we will surely come to accept this cost, just like say driving licenses. Moreover, perhaps this could justify to Americans why healthcare should be free: one is contributing one’s medical biography to the knowledgebase.

Such instant availability of global treatment data would be useful not only to researchers but also — and possibly primarily — to doctors devising treatments in the moment.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Cool made with Zoom music video (though if this is the state of contemporary pop music, count me out of the tune).

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

The eleven days in question are 12th–23rd March. Eleven days in which the [UK] government decided to give up with contact tracing and do, well, nothing. Mass gatherings were still allowed (because “science”). Concerts and racing and Champions’ League football. Pubs. Public transport. Everything. The over-70s, it must be conceded, were advised to avoid cruises.

Friday, April 17th, 2020

A brief survey of Israeli exit strategies for coronavirus lockdown, including the 5/2 and the alternate week plans.

Forbes lists Israel as the #1 safest country from the Wuhan. Germany then South Korea are next. The USA and UK aren’t even in the top 40.

The Bar-Ilan alternate week lockdown strategy by Dror Meidan, Reuven Cohen, Simcha Haber & Baruch Barzel.

We propose an alternating lock-down strategy, in which at every instance, half of the population remainsunder lock-down while the other half continues to be active, maintaining a routine of weeklysuccession between activity and lock-down. All symptomatic individuals continue to remainin isolation. Under this regime, if an individual was exposed during their active week, by thetime they complete their lock-down they will already begin to exhibit symptoms. Hence thisstrategy isolates the majority of exposed individuals during their asymptomatic phase.

Monday, April 13th, 2020

 
 

•••

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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    In politically turbulent times, when it is not clear which way the arc of history will bend, it is useful to reframe the question of political futures in terms of built-environment futures. Instead of asking, what kind of milieu will we inhabit, you ask the potentially easier question, what sort of built environment will we […]
  • Two Spooks

    It may or may not be true that there are no extant photographs of Johann C. Schmidt, aka Max Stirner. The ones I may know of lack the auratic power of the two penetrating character sketches Friedrich Engels did of him: the first, a remarkable, vulpine profile he drew from memory for John Henry Mackay, […]
  • A Spectre Is Haunting The West

    A tiger was reported loose in Oakland on the night of May 31. The report was false, yes, but it hardly mattered because―as is rarely the case with fake news―it had vision. In short, the report was false but the tiger was Real. To cite @aesthetikeit, here was a “symbol of the aimless and violent […]