Saturday, October 16th, 2021
David P. Goldman blames the Web technocracy for the end of the American era, comparing it to how Britain lost dominance through the corruption of empire: by eschewing the true wealth creation of manufacturing.
Britain’s best and brightest left Eton and Harrow and went into colonial service, and made fortunes on the sale of British textiles to India, Indian opium to China, and Chinese tea and silks to the West. Britain’s country houses were built on the quick money to be earned from empire, and the British upper class eschewed the dirty work of manufacturing in favor of the faux-aristocracy of the nouveau riche masquerading as landed gentry.
The estimable Goldman is somewhat wrong here I think; web software is much more about conjuring up something from nothing, albeit an intangible digitized something, than it is just shunting stuff around at gunpoint, as he says late-Empire Britain did.
Wednesday, October 13th, 2021
I think that if we were told 40 years ago that Bill Shatner would actually go into space at age 90, we’d think things turned out pretty well.
Friday, October 8th, 2021
I had to read this snooty bit of exhibitionism at Gawker (must the devil have all the good web design?) slowly to keep track of what and whom the reader is supposed to consider virtuous versus vile. One through-line that helped was, like in a Hollywood movie, the bad guys have British accents.
Regarding the author’s complaint of British transphobia, one possible cause: due to cultural proximity and thirst, the Great Leap Forward emanating from the USA arrives first at Britain’s more grounded doorstep, with the resulting crockery-dropping rejection most clearly heard when ricocheting back across the pond.
Thursday, October 7th, 2021
Angry divides over cultural and identity-group issues often mask—in fact may be deliberately used to mask—unanimity at the top of the system when it comes to condoning or participating in corruption.
Sarah Chayes, Everybody Knows: Corruption in America
Wednesday, October 6th, 2021
Criminalizing the criminalization of politics is akin to the wonder performed by Aeschylus’ Eumenides, which turned revenge into law—high statesmanship.
Angelo Codevilla, The Ruling Class
Thursday, September 30th, 2021
More Stanford student bikers are observed wearing masks than helmets. OK now it’s just a pandemic of idiocy.
Also today I noted a pic of Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid stepping out of an aircraft at Bahrain’s airport. He was alone on the middle steps, his aides up top at the aircraft doors, the welcoming committee on the tarmac, yet he was masked. Covid theater undermines our public confidence in following sensible guidelines when they are actually sensible and salutary.
Sunday, September 26th, 2021
The ruling class’s campaign regarding public health, global warming, race, the rights of women, homosexuals, micro-aggressions, the Palestinians, etc. etc. have far less to do with any of these matters than with seizing ever more power for itself.
Angelo Codevilla, “The Covid Coup”
In what turned out to be his final essay, “Graveyard of Narratives”, Angelo Codevilla excoriates America’s response to 9/11, even going so far as to point out that it wasn’t really fully clear just how involved Osama Bin Laden was. Codevilla:
Since WWII, whether in the name of anti-communism, anti-terrorism, democracy, or humanitarianism, it’s always the same: dismiss the substance of local quarrels; recast the local scene in terms of American elites’ concerns…
Saturday, September 25th, 2021
David Goldman eulogizes Angelo Codevilla, strongly hinting his belief that the 78-year-old geostrategist’s death by drunk driver was no accident. The two men had been corresponding, and were in agreement that America is in trouble, though Codevilla was at pains to point out that regardless of its own mindblowing fecklessness there are certain realities in America’s favor:
As currently important and as pregnant with long range consequences as the new realities are, to what extent do they override, FOR RUSSIA the reality that CHINA is ten times as populous and thrice as productive per capita, and racially incompatible, and next door? Let us put ourselves in Putin’s icy shoes: Up to what point is American decline in Russia’s interest? Does he really want China to be the Western Pacific’s undisputed mistress?
Friday, September 24th, 2021
It’s the greatest gig in the world, being alive; you get to eat at Denny’s, wear a hat, whatever you wanna do.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2021
Matt Stoller explains how one company, Varsity Brands (owned by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital), sucks life out of the American heartland with its grotesque monopoly on cheerleading.
Sunday, September 12th, 2021
If there’s one thing to read on this 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, perhaps this is it, a narration of the 9/11 film “by Jules Naudet, a French-born documentary filmmaker working with his brother Gédéon on a film about a rookie firefighter at a station in Lower Manhattan.”
One of the men sent up the stairs by Chief Pfeifer is his younger brother, Kevin. He will never see him again. As Jules Naudet’s camera pans over the faces of the firefighters in the lobby of the North Tower, you realize with shock that his footage, which includes Kevin Pfeifer, is the last time many of them will be captured for posterity.
This is so full-throated by David Horowitz (posted by John Hinderaker at Powerline). Entitled “The Read Existential Threat”, it rings very true to me, given the unforced error that is the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Anti-white racism, and ignorant attacks on the American founding – these constitute the greatest existential threat to America. And the fact that Black Lives Matter fictions make up the crippling doctrine of our military leaders should wake everyone to the menace we face. There never has been a greater threat to our patrimony and freedom since the darkest days of the Civil War.
Saturday, September 11th, 2021
Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World
I enjoyed Clive Thompson’s Wired piece “Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t” wherein he considers task management software as a kind of religious devotion:
To-do lists are, in the American imagination, a curiously moral type of software. Nobody opens Google Docs or PowerPoint thinking “This will make me a better person.” But with to-do apps, that ambition is front and center.
This bringing of theology and things of the spirit into the seemingly more mundane world of computing reminded me delightedly of Umberto Eco’s whimsical comparison of Mac vs Windows as Catholicism vs Protestantism.
So I was hopeful for Thompson’s book Coders, especially after reading the fun first Amazon Kindle sample chapter, and because I am increasingly embracing the identity of coder, given that it’s what I’ve ended up doing almost all my 21/2-decade professional life, and want to know just how much I fit the profile.
Well. I’ve come across writers before whose magazine articles impress but pall at book length. Mr Thompson’s interviewees so often “sigh” as they are clunkily pulled out of the aether to buttress his current argument, and I found particularly jarring that a provocative thought by one fellow — Dijastra, no less — is quoted using “he hissed” — though by then the mechanics of the book were transparent enough to predict the desultory “he has a point”-esque follow-up.
In thematic tandem with the book’s stale style, it degenerates into a long squawk of racial social injustice obsession. What pops into mind is the searing tedium of hearing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at every gas station across America.
So come rain or shine, this one’s going out on the street, and tech chronicler Clive Thompson will need to re-earn his welcome.
Saturday, August 21st, 2021
A tour de force from lest we forget Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan on, well, nothing less than the current American moment.
Wednesday, August 4th, 2021
DiAngelo, you may have heard, has a new one out. But do you really need to read yet another book about how white people just don’t get it? After all, roll the tape again and the main theme of intelligent black thought might not be so obsessed with this notion that black America must sit mired in charismatic anomie until white people “get it.” Imagine a black America all about not “Why don’t they get it?” but “How do we get ours regardless?”
Sunday, August 1st, 2021
J. D. Vance makes what seems to me an historic speech, calling on the Republican Party to be the family party:
The fact that we’re not having enough babies, the fact that we’re not having enough children, is a crisis in this country. It’s a crisis because it makes our media more miserable. It’s a crisis because it doesn’t give our leaders enough of an investment in the future of their country. And it’s a crisis because we know that babies are good.
And here’s a doozy:
The Democrats are talking about giving the vote to sixteen-year olds. But let’s do this instead: let’s give votes to all children in this country, but let’s give control over those votes to the parents of those children.
Monday, July 26th, 2021
What is an entertainment company? Matthew Ball surveys the landscape, focused on Disney, and concludes they must reach into digital games.
Friday, July 9th, 2021
A voice new to me, David E. Bernstein, gives a fresh and concise viewpoint on the tired topic of why so many love to hate on Israel, providing separate reasons for the disparate groups. For Christians:
Christian critics of Israel so often accuse Jews of not learning anything from the Holocaust; in their mind, the Holocaust is a story about Christian sin and possible redemption via the actions of the victims; the fate of the Jewish people as a people is at best irrelevant.
Mohammed started his empire with limited territory and a small army, only to expand throughout the Middle East and North Africa. There is undoubtedly some latent fear that Israel is a camel’s nose under the tent for Jewish expansionism. This of course misunderstands Zionism and Judaism, but the average Muslim knows little about Judaism.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2021
Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine
Antonio Garcia Martinez
As author Antonio García Martínez battles away as an eager newcomer at Facebook, his account jolts one awake to the somewhat forgotten power of literature: we are reminded that what will survive these times will likely not be the mammoth trillion dollar company but instead this book.
And shame on Apple, caving to those who campaigned to have Martinez fired recently from his new job there because of some gross and silly yet heartfelt generalization in the book of San Francisco womenfolk; such philistine snowflakes do little more than buttress his point, as well as forcing our author to remain up on these more commanding if perhaps less remunerative cultural heights.
Saturday, June 26th, 2021
If you do business in LatAm, you’ve got a Miami office. Prodigal son Antonio García Martínez returns to Miami, now on a Substack-fueled writing mission.
I was raised in the Miami of the wild 80s and 90s, and more or less abandoned the city for 20 years before going back due to a family illness circa 2014. Much to my everlasting shock, all the twee fineries of overpaid SF tech life were there: pretentious craft beer poured by bearded lumbersexuals inside stylized industrial loft spaces; whimsically-named, garishly-painted food-trucks clustered in parking lots-turned-parks serving Korean/Mexican fusion tacos; pompous ‘Third Wave’ coffee places (in a city where espresso was already ubiquitous) featuring pierced baristas conjuring a pourover with all the seriousness of a priest performing the eucharistic miracle; glass-clad, high-rise condo buildings, indistinguishable from the same douche-cubes in SF’s SoMa (“GRANITE COUNTERTOPS, STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES”) growing like mushrooms in a dewy field throughout the formerly sleepy downtown.
Thursday, June 24th, 2021
Thursday, June 10th, 2021
Sunday, June 6th, 2021
In Quillette, Kenny Xu and Christian Watson take the time to spell out the bleedin’ obvious: that Critical Race Theory does not extend but rather undermines the Civil Rights movement.
Only a racist believes that there is some fundamental skin-color-defined moral essence within any of us.
Saturday, June 5th, 2021
We are so used to saying “The internet changed everything” that we have forgotten it changed everything.
Peggy Noonan, What Drives Conspiracism
The US State Department will no longer use the term Abraham Accords, Arutz Sheva reports. This sucks.
Wednesday, May 26th, 2021
After some throat-clearing, Thomas Friedman promotes Trump’s Deal of the Century between Israel and the Palestinians. He writes regarding the Palestinian capital:
Biden should reshape U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian relations by opening a diplomatic mission to the P.A. — as the nascent Palestinian state government — near its headquarters in Ramallah.
That’s Ramallah, not Jerusalem, which is for Israel:
The U.S. should encourage the six Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates) to simultaneously move their embassies from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem…
And then this:
Biden should propose negotiations on peace with Trump’s plan as the starting point.
Saturday, May 22nd, 2021
In “The Realignment” authors Michael Doran and Tony Badran are forthright about the egregious and insensible Iran-appeasement policy that the Biden Administration is continuing from the Obama era, despite years now of experience both bitter (Syria) and sweet (Abraham Accords) demonstrating its utter folly.
Tuesday, May 18th, 2021
Victor Davis Hanson, caustic as usual, on Leftist support of Hamas: “The new American Middle East policy is an extension of the new American domestic policy.” Yet so far the Biden Administration has been pretty good at holding off the “international community”‘s usual calumnious onslaught against Israel during conflagrations. I hope the current White House doesn’t expect as quid pro quo Israel’s support for its desire to appease Iran.
Saturday, May 8th, 2021
Sometimes a cool story is strong enough to override my current aversion to The New York Times, and this interactive piece about Oval Office art qualifies.
Wednesday, April 28th, 2021
(The irritatingly insouciant) Lionel Shriver notes that there will likely be unpleasant geopolitical consequences to wokeness in that Western civilization’s illiberal adversaries will interpret the bewailing self-castigation coming from American and British elites as evidence of actual decline — correctly or not (though I suspect correctly).
Monday, March 29th, 2021
Strong medicine, this, and brave of Tablet to publish it. Dubbing deplorables as The Smiths, Angelo M. Codevilla beseeches regular Americans to simply disengage from the new American oligarchy.
And in the same publication, a transcription of an interview with the caustic political philosopher, The Codevilla Tapes.
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021
Monday, February 15th, 2021
Meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder
The politicians are engaged in endless echolalia. The governor here (cum-Secretary of Commerce) actually had the chutzpah to say, “I know you’re all unhappy with the speed of vaccination, but our strategy is working.”
Wednesday, January 27th, 2021
Like Anna Karenina’s brother, it’s not that the United States media has a bad memory, rather it has acquired an excellent forgettery. Victor Davis Hanson remembers nonetheless.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2021
A survey of American research on minimum wage by David Neumark & Peter Shirley at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Saturday, January 9th, 2021
A great grounds-eye view of the upset in Washington DC, “What I Saw at the Capitol Riot” by Declan Leary in The American Conservative.
To my left I hear “We don’t need Gitmo,” and I’m not quite sure what’s meant by it. From the same general area comes “I’ll donate a vaccination—.223 hollow point.” A little less ambiguous. Somebody with a megaphone is in the middle of a speech: “If you stand for nothing, you gotta stand for something.” Close enough. A young woman with a bullhorn of her own lets out a lone motherfucker. An older man looks at me with a smile and asks if she kisses her mother with that mouth. A few seconds later the same voice drones at nobody in particular: Pussy, pussyyyyy, pussy, pusssaaaaaaayyyyyy.
Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
From the CDC, US vaccination numbers. So far the state that’s done best is South Dakota at 3%.
Friday, January 1st, 2021
Cute, if harrowing: the no-longer economically viable Simpsons household, a piece in The Atlantic by Dani Alexis Ryskamp.
Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
Ross Douthat in his typical perfect way essays on American childbearing in the really nice magazine Plough.
Monday, November 30th, 2020
The URL city-journal.org/white-fragility suggests that this piece by Coleman Hughes is the house stance on the insanity; good.
Sunday, November 22nd, 2020
A close-to-the-ground view of the current pandemic response in Southern California. Mentions of food insecurity, and there’s color in the comments.
Saturday, November 21st, 2020
Wednesday, November 18th, 2020
The 2020 US election is apparently not yet over. “It is indeed a very foul mess,” states Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor now Trump legal team member, whom people speak of respectfully in the comments. “It is farther and wider and deeper than we ever thought but we are going to go after it and I am going to expose every one of them.” [Update 2020 Nov 23: So much for that! “Trump Legal Team Distances Itself From Sidney Powell After Unproven Claims” in The Daily Wire.]
Sunday, November 15th, 2020
Two more Frank Lloyd Wright films planned by the maker of the new Unity Temple film, the one with the voice.
Saturday, November 14th, 2020
James Lileks is still at it, marvellously, and my bad to have drifted away. Here he is mulling his thoughts at the supermarket and driving home. Plus a wonderful pic. And a great gif. And a second feature that is more epic than the post itself. What an artisan, what an artist.
Sunday, November 8th, 2020
Seeming US President-elect Joe Biden “has said openly for a long time that “he will go back to the nuclear agreement,” warns Israel’s Settlements Minister and long-time soothsayer Tzachi Hanegbi. “I see that as something that will lead to a confrontation between Israel and Iran.”