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

Top Hat & Defence Ministry
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Top Hat & Defence Ministry iPhone 6S Tel Aviv, Israel Friday, September 30th, 2016.

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

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About

Briefs

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

Meir Kraus, a fellow at the research center at the Shalom Hartman Institute, sets out challenges, lessons, options and insights for a balanced and feasible option on Jerusalem as part of a wider solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Erdoğan’s Turkey, once again neither winning friends nor influencing people, this time trying it on around the Eastern Med gas fields.

Monday, September 16th, 2019

George Friedman is impressed by Iran’s recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, which “imposed a price on the Saudis for their alliance structure that, if it continues, they cannot pay. The attack also drove home to U.S. allies that their interest and the United States’ interest on oil diverge.” Yes but conversely while they lash out violently and the US responds only economically, they appear increasingly desperate, a not-good look with real-world consequences.

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Israel should finally be a part of CentCom, Caroline Glick argues. “A future [increasingly hostile to Israel] Democratic president faced with a reality in which Israeli officials cooperate openly with their Sunni Arab counterparts under the aegis of the US Central Command, and in which Israel serves as a key partner in the development of offensive and defensive systems that are critical to the US, will not rush to abandon the US alliance with Israel.”

Thursday, August 8th, 2019

Past and immediate future: two gangbusters op-eds in The Spectator on Britain and Brexit, one by Dominic Green, Life & Arts Editor of Spectator USA, “Donald Trump is the best prime minister Britain never had”, which races through almost a century of pandering fecklessness by Britain’s mandarins; and one by Robert Peston, ITV’s Political Editor, ”Why a no-deal Brexit is now overwhelmingly likely“, reasoning that Brexiteers would be unified under a general election whereas Remainers would be unified under a second Brexit referendum, hence we will get the former.

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Trump: “Time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights”. What fabulous news. What a mysterious blessing is this American from Queens.

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Monday, December 31st, 2018

The Six Day War, Fifty Years On is a series of articles by Tel Aviv University’s INSS think-tank including authors such as Gabi Siboni and Moshe Ya’alon.

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

Harvard’s Belfer Center has produced an English translation of the Israel Defense Forces’ 2015 formal defence doctrine directed mainly against Hizbollah. This is the first such publication, which is worrying because pieces of paper now comprise at least some elements of the country’s deterrence.

Friday, December 14th, 2018

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.

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?

Friday, October 12th, 2018

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.

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%.”

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, June 19th, 2018

Tyler Cowen: Why read news?

If you follow the news, you will work at it every day, more or less. Better those compound returns than to do something else once every three months and a half.

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

The Dawn of Day

Friedrich Nietzsche

♦♦♦♦

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.

Monday, May 7th, 2018

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.

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.

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

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.

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

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

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.

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.”

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.

Monday, March 12th, 2018

In the search for an interesting riff on Black Panther, Teju Cole, photography critic at The New York Times Magazine starts it up, complete with dueling translations of Rilke’s “The Panther”.

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…”

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Watching Mike Pence’s speech to the Knesset [transcript and video at Haaretz], Prime Minister Netanyahu can’t jump to his feet fast enough.

The US Vice President draws parallels between America’s and Israel’s stories. He sets a 2019 deadline for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. And he recites Shehechianu in Hebrew.

This historic speech furthers the momentum of the new American way in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To paraphrase the Grateful Dead: More than this I will not ask.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Who showed up, who stayed home, and who broadcast a weather program while Erdoğan spoke at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit condemning America’s recognition of Israel’s capital. Jordan was there but Saudi, Egypt and the UAR weren’t.

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Tom Gross lays out the case for optimism over an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal happening sooner rather than later. To me this is utterly obvious and almost straightforward but as usual it’s the precise opposite of how the Western media portrays things to be.

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.

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Yes, yes, yes — another nice one by Evelyn Gordon. Unusually, Trump’s UN speech did not even mention the Palestinians. The omission is the first diplomatic suggestion to them that they may have something to lose by intransigence. To date, the only policy I can think of that has served this purpose is settlements.

In a nice interview about his book, the great Yanis Varoufakis reviews what happened during the Greek bailout negotiations.

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Trump Ends Support to Anti-Assad Rebels. Trump’s empty embassy move promise was it seems a symbolic harbinger of things to come. By letting Russia control what happens in Syria near Israel’s border, Trump is betraying the fundamental security interests of ally Israel, not to mention doubling down on its dereliction of superpower duty, which means abandoning American long-term interests.

Modi and Netanyahu, India and Israel’s prime ministers, are a match made in history. By Jonathan Spyer in The American Interest.

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

“Gazans today are more moderate than West Bankers on the key question of permanent peace with Israel,” reports David Pollock at The Washington Institute based on what he calls “reliable data from a new survey conducted there May 16-25 by a professional, independent Palestinian pollster.” I thought it might augur hope for an eventual end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but 44% of Gazans and 55% of West Bankers still believe the conflict “should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated”. And 46% of Gazans blame Israel for their economic woes while only 4% blame Egypt. [via dailyalert.com]

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.

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

This is fascinating: Turks residing in liberal Europe voted far more heavily for Erdogan’s authoritarian referendum — about 70/30 — than did Turks at home, about 50/50. Far less still did Turks in the USA and the UK vote for it — about 84% and 80% against respectively. A measure of ideological/cultural integration?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

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.

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.

index topics regional-affairs regional-affairs

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, October 20th, 2019

Dr Alex Joffe notes that while the West’s working classes are still relatively sensible, “in Western social and information environments saturated with virtue-signaling, [grafting BDS onto contemporary concerns and movements is] having some success with members of the image-conscious, predominantly white middle class.

Matt Zoller Seitz absolutely loves Toy Story 4.

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.

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

Volvo unveils its first full battery electric model, the XC40 Recharge SUV with 402bhp a 248-mile range. Featuring no front grille!

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Succession as comedy. Obvious, given its producers, but still, nicely written.

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

A deep dive into the Grand Seiko Snowflake on Hodinkee. “The entire thing seems to have been calculated to create an effect of serenity without boredom; of minimalism without sterility.”

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

This is actually kind of important: How to select, copy, and paste text in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. Thanks, AppleInsider. In Notes at least, 3-finger swipe-left and swipe-right isn’t just undo and redo, but an entire history of actions to the document.

Meir Kraus, a fellow at the research center at the Shalom Hartman Institute, sets out challenges, lessons, options and insights for a balanced and feasible option on Jerusalem as part of a wider solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A lovely poster of Frank Lloyd Wright homes “in (nearly) every state” by HomeAdvisor.

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

AutoCar drives the electric Jaguar I-Pace from London to Frankfurt. As recently as two years ago such a journey simply wasn’t feasible. Now, once you have the more expensive car, it’s much cheaper than driving diesel let alone petrol. That said, charging stops are an hour rather than five minutes, and every 200 miles rather than say every 500. But I think there is some good here. Travellers must get out and stretch their legs for a longer while. All in all our automotive future looks improved.

George Friedman on Brexit: it is very likely to happen, as is the painful shift to increased ties with the Anglosphere.

Install bullshit.js as a bookmarklet. Your insides will thank you.

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

ExpressionEngine (EE) is the content management system that until recently I used for building every web property. In November 2018, EllisLab, the producer of EE, was sold to Digital Locations, Inc. (DLOC) and EllisLab owner Rick Ellis joined the parent company’s payroll. The acquisition is detailed in Digital Locations’ Quarterly Report (Form 10-Q) dated August 13th, 2019.

But the Digital Locations acquisition seems downright skeezy. Despite the company’s tagline about Artificial Intelligence, it appears to be nothing more than a holding company for Mr Bill Beifuss. Moreover it looks like he’s scrimping on incorporation fees: the company was founded in 2006 as Zingerang, then became Carbon Sciences for a decade, before morphing again into Digital Locations. It self-reports never having had any revenues.

According to the linked-to Bloomberg profile, Mr Beifuss is also CEO of some other companies: Warp 9 Inc, Coeur D’alene French Baking Co, and Cumorah Capital Inc., none of which appear to provide any actual products or services either.

Rick must have been aware of and a party to this bullshit. With ExpressionEngine he had a great thing going; I wonder what happened. All I can speculate is that he very much wanted to segue EE’s success into enabling him to try other things professionally but that it remained his biggest achievement and he couldn’t bring himself to let go of the golden goose even though it was fading without his hands-on vision. And then at some point last year he suddenly really needed a buyer.

Recently, on October 3rd, 2019, he bought EllisLab back from Beifuss then sold it a week later to development house Packet Tide, that is, Tom Jaeger. So it Rick Ellis has finally let go of ExpressionEngine, even if he held on too long; despite being free EE can barely be be given away now; the technology has moved on.

I’m relieved to have moved away from it onto the Node ecosystem. I really enjoyed meeting the EllisLab team at an EE conference in 2017 — such cool nice folks in person — but for me EllisLab is a cautionary tale.

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

I wish there were something to disagree with in this piece reviewing the fiasco that is Brexit. We see now that due to the United Kingdom’s very make-up — a dominant England, a smaller Scotland, and a Northern Ireland with inherent connections to the Republic of Ireland — Britain needs to be in the EU arguably more than many other European countries do. Surely some game theory simulations would have borne out the current impasse.

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

I’m excited by the Richard Mille Bonbon watch collection. Just fabulous. Crazy expensive but apparently all have been bought, most popularly in Malaysia.

MacStories’ macOS Catalina review seems comprehensive enough to take over from John Siracusa’s famous Ars Technica reviews.

11 Brilliant Ways To Redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles by Spencer Howard at GodSaveThePoints. Most are not actually flying Virgin Atlantic but their partner airlines

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Erdoğan’s Turkey, once again neither winning friends nor influencing people, this time trying it on around the Eastern Med gas fields.

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

A conversation on Jewish concepts of sin ABA failure with David Bashevkin that could have gone on a lot longer. Very good stuff for those needing to augment their awareness that we are in the Days of Awe.

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

There is no climate emergency, states the European Climate Declaration, organized by Amsterdam-based Climate Intelligence Foundation (CLINTEL) and undersigned by “over 500 knowledgeable and experienced scientists and professionals in climate and related fields”. This on the day the media provided extensive coverage of a speech at the UN by a 16-year-old climate activist. Interestingly, the country with the most signatories is Italy, with 113.

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

“There has not in modern American history been such a preposterous excuse for a threat to the presidency as the Ukraine affair,” opens the splendiferous Lord Black of Crossharbour. My only qualm in the piece is his characterization that the Democratic candidates “shrieked”; this lazy hyperbole detracts. And also perhaps that the case against Clinton was even more preposterous.

I support every clause and every irony in this best Victor Davis Hanson piece in a while. VDH must even resort to a consistent use of italics, his points are so pertinent. My one qualm here is that Israel is surely uneasy with America’s seeming passivity vis-a-vis Iran’s attacks. But this qualm is quelled because Israel is only Little Satan, whereas Big Satan has economic pressures it can and is bringing to bear on Iran that are just not in Israel’s wheelhouse.

The future is real but the past is all made up.

Logan Roy in Succession, Series 2, Episode 8

Saturday, September 28th, 2019

September 25th, 2019, a Virgin Atlantic plane landed in Tel Aviv for the first time. Airplane travel writer Gilbert Ott was aboard.

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

As opposed to the better-known warning against entangling foreign alliances, the real money quote from Washington’s Farewell address was that in foreign affairs the United States be “guided by justice”. So argues freshly-minted Giselle Donnelly — I love this robust American Enterprise Institute fellow.

Starting from WeWork, Matt Stoller coins “counterfeit capitalism” as the Amazon model: “take inputs, combine them into products worth less than their cost, and plug up the deficit through the capital markets in hopes of acquiring market power later or of just self-dealing so the losses are placed onto someone else.” It is, he argues, terrible for society as a whole.

Mototaka Nakamura, who has published a score of climate-related papers on fluid dynamics, has written a small book in Japanese and English entitled Confessions of a Climate Scientist: The Global Warming Hypothesis is An Unproven Hypothesis arguing that we lack the tools to forecast temperature. He writes:

In climate research and modelling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.

Sun, ice, oceans, clouds: none are being modelled with any approximation to reality, he writes.

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

This video rather magnificiently splices together various bands playing “Terrapin Station”. My new most favorite YouTube video ever.

James Ketchell completes his gyrocopter global circumnavigation, apparently the first person to do so. Awesome.

Some rise, some climb, some fall — Robert Hunter, 78. Mister, your inspiration moved me brightly.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

It’s good, I’ve had time to contemplate my Indecisiveness.

Aaron Livingstone

“By far the most important factor in determining whether a boiled egg will peel cleanly or not is the temperature at which it starts cooking.” There’s just too many quotable quotes in this first entry in a new New York Times series on the science of cooking. I think the Grey Lady has finally found a useful niche.

Joseph Epstein has a book to review on the semi-colon; that is, an excuse to treat us to a treatise on punctuation. It is “the art of rhythm, for punctuation’s second function, after its first function of helping to establish clarity, is to set the rhythm of sentences. Rhythm in prose, it turns out, is highly individual, for nearly everyone not only marches but writes to the beat of a different drummer.”

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

With 20% of the population and a recent poll suggesting 65% are proud to be Israeli, are the country’s increasingly-franchised Arabs to be Israel’s new kingmakers?, wonders Shlomi Eldar at Al-Monitor.

At the top of [their] demands is restarting the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. We should note the delicate phrasing of the demand, which is meant to make it easier for Gantz and those Blue and White members who are more affiliated with the right to accept. It doesn’t say ‘creating a Palestinian state’ and presents no outline for an arrangement; rather, it presents a vague demand to ‘establish a diplomatic process that would lead to the realization of the vision of two states on the basis of the 67 lines.’ It’s likely that Gantz, Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon could accept the word ‘vision.’”

This movement will surely underpin the eventual full resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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!

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

For anyone (like me) working on doing the same, see Wenbin Fang’s article “The boring technology behind a one-person Internet company”. Of course the technologies used will differ, but the frankness here is refreshing, the contour of what’s required enlightening.

If you aren’t reading almost everything Venkatesh Rao writes, you must ask yourself why. Here in Part 10 of 10 in the Weirding Diary series he places the implosion of the MIT Media Lab within the context of “glamorous institutions” collapse.

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.

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.

Re Uber, Izabella Kaminska asks: “If you have a company with lots of employees, margins are very low and it is acquiring market share through subsidisation, and not necessarily through quality, how can you guarantee that this is going to be a sustainable and profitable model? You can’t.”

George Friedman is impressed by Iran’s recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, which “imposed a price on the Saudis for their alliance structure that, if it continues, they cannot pay. The attack also drove home to U.S. allies that their interest and the United States’ interest on oil diverge.” Yes but conversely while they lash out violently and the US responds only economically, they appear increasingly desperate, a not-good look with real-world consequences.

 
 

•••

Newsroll

A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute, edited by Brian C. Anderson.

  • DACA in the Dock

    What Obama has done, Trump can undo.
  • The Mayor and the World

    Michael Bloomberg hasn’t said much about foreign policy in his public career—but that will have to change if he’s serious about running for president.
  • Then They Came for the Doughnut Vendors

    Anti-police advocates raise a ruckus about a routine—and justified—arrest in New York City’s subway system.
  • Trading Up

    Pennsylvania’s Williamson College of the Trades provides a path to good jobs for kids not pursuing traditional four-year degrees.
  • When the Wall Came Down

    Thirty years on, a reminder of the truth about all totalitarian regimes

experiments in refactored perception

  • Spatial Intelligence: Architecture as a Giant Computer

    In this talk, Guvenc Ozel talks about the latest in architecture research in the use of VR to experience space in radically different ways.
  • Predictable Identities: 20 – Self and Other Labeling

    The last post set up the motivations and trade-offs of applying identity labels to yourself and to others. One can choose to oppose this ubiquitous labeling or indulge in it. With these two axes, we can sketch out the blogchain’s first (though inevitable) 2×2: The anti-label corner is exemplified by Paul Graham’s famous exhortation to […]
  • From Pseudoevents to Pseudorealities

    Next up, Renee DiResta talks about the dark side of reality construction, influencing and shaping consensus realities for political gains. This talk really pulls together Renee’s series of essays on ribbonfarm.