Sunday, July 5th, 2020
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.
Yet the media called the speech “dark and divisive”.
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
This is the most cogent, bracing clarification of the non-Covid aspects of our current moment that I’ve yet to encounter.
Saturday, June 6th, 2020
“The Problem of White Efficacy” by Rebekah Frumkin in Guernica. Totally mental.
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!
Monday, May 18th, 2020
Sunday, May 17th, 2020
The Making of Prince of Persia
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.
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.
Sunday, April 19th, 2020
Sunday, April 12th, 2020
In “The Unbearable Rightness of Trump”, the redoubtable Andrew Klavan recounts his erstwhile amusement watching the video mash-up of Trump saying “China”, only to realize later that the then presidential candidate was correct in his focus.
Klavan’s anecdote rings home precisely for me; I too was so amused that I showed the video to my son for laughs. When it matters most, and behind the weird performant exterior, Donald Trump’s vision pierces through the fog to the essence of a situation. That is why he is President.
Wednesday, April 8th, 2020
In 2006, Schwarzenegger as Governor of California built up a pandemic stockpile in the wake of avian flu that Jerry Brown subsequently sold off for pennies on the dollar. The initial cost was $200m, the amount saved annually by eliminating the program $6m. Which shows the issue of unpreparedness is totally bipartisan and systemic; indeed it is civiliizational.
Tuesday, March 31st, 2020
Sunday, March 29th, 2020
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
So some combination of a strong state, some kind of small-c conservative social renewal, and some sort of futurism offers some kind of alchemy…
Saturday, March 21st, 2020
Tuesday, March 10th, 2020
Benjamin Schwarz decries the University of Chicago’s English Department for toeing the woke line, despite the Chicago Principles (it’s great to see my alma mater’s font again, and saying such things).
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of an Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
Brent Schlener and Rick Tetzell
Although the simple thesis gets repeated interminably, nonetheless it’s a nice one: that Steve Jobs’s greatness stems muchly from his constant becoming, constant learning, constant trying to overcome himself (hence the title, which can be read as descriptive).
It’s great to be in his company, which you feel you are, as one of the authors was himself repeatedly so for decades.
One thing new to me was Pixar’s role in maturing Jobs; we don’t often read about who and what shaped the shaper.
Thursday, January 9th, 2020
“The Soleimani Killing: An Initial Assessment” [PDF], a study by Hillel Frisch, Eytan Gilboa, Gershon Hacohen, Doron Itzchakov, and Alexander Joffe at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
Friday, January 3rd, 2020
From “you can’t do anything” to “a severe revenge”: Khamenei fumes regarding “that guy” Trump as US kills Iran’s Al-Quds Force leader Soleimani in a missile attack at Baghdad Airport.
Saturday, December 14th, 2019
“Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict” — the inaugural James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Lecture in Economic Inequality at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics by Thomas Piketty (March 30th, 2018).
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019
VDH provides a bit of actual strategy for the USA on the China, Iran, and North Korea fronts:
The most dangerous moments … are predictable. They follow when one side, arrogant from previously being exempt from any consequences for its aggression, believes it’s starting to lose a conflict that it prompted and cannot afford to lose.
Wednesday, November 27th, 2019
Quite the overview: “The Real Class War” by Julius Krein, editor of American Affairs.
The real class war is between the 0.1 percent and (at most) the 10 percent—or, more precisely, between elites primarily dependent on capital gains and those primarily dependent on profes sional labor.
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
The Smithsonian Magazine excerpts Paul Hendrickson’s Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright. Among the gems:
- “…[Wright’s] 72-year career as an architect and egotist…”
- “…[Wright buildings] come magically out of the American ground looking for the light…”
- “…[Wright,] the old shaman…”
- “…There are certain moments, standing in [Wright homes], if the light is falling right, when it will begin to seem as if Whitman is singing to Emerson, or vice versa…”
Will the author spoil it for me though? Among the crisps are tonal annoyances such as beginning sentences with “Heck,”…
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.
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
Succession as comedy. Obvious, given its producers, but still, nicely written.
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
George Friedman on Brexit: it is very likely to happen, as is the painful shift to increased ties with the Anglosphere.
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 sweaters of Succession. By Vulture.
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.
Wednesday, September 25th, 2019
This video rather magnificiently splices together various bands playing “Terrapin Station”. My new most favorite YouTube video ever.
Tuesday, September 24th, 2019
Some rise, some fall, some climb — Robert Hunter, 78. Mister, your inspiration moved me brightly.
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
The end of formal dining on Amtrak. The change is “driven by a desire to save money,” Amtrak said to The Washington Post, “and lure a younger generation of new riders — chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table.” Sad!
In National Affairs, Ruth Wisse shows us Irving Kristol, “the common man’s uncommon philosopher”.
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
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.
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.”
Saturday, August 31st, 2019
Friday, August 30th, 2019
Monday, August 5th, 2019
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019
Recordings of Reagan on the phone with foreign leaders — Thatcher, Assad, Begin. Very cool [from 2014].
What a dreamteam of Übermenschen now leading my three countries: Trump, BoJo and Bibi. Not since Reagan, Thatcher and Begin have we seen the like. It demonstrates that these societies still function in that the leader is found.
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
Monday, July 1st, 2019
Other glories: on Norman Mailer’s Of A Fire on the Moon.
Friday, May 17th, 2019
China breaches US oil export sanctions against Iran, Debka reports. Oh dear.
Monday, May 13th, 2019
A manifesto for the remaining sensible: “Tucker’s Right” by Michael Anton.
Friday, April 19th, 2019