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Briefs

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.

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020

Larry McEnerney on 40 years of teaching expository writing at the University of Chicago’s Little Red Schoolhouse.

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

A work-in-progress web rendering of Moby Dick by Jason Pamental, with Rockwell Kent’s woodblock illustrations. Glorious!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

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

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, 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,”…

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

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

“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.”

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

The words that don’t quite translate tell you the most about another culture.

Colin Marshall, “Travel is Living: How Airbnb Ingeniously Markets to Korea”

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Monday, July 1st, 2019

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Hunger as Art is a 15-minute film by Israeli philosopher Daniel Milo, whose upcoming book Good Enough promises to be seminal. Via Venkatesh Rao’s ongoing exploration of mediocrity, Mediocratopia.

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

Sunday, March 17th, 2019

Mathieu Triay on his Marvin Visions, a reinterpretation of the 1969 font Marvin by Michael Chave.

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Jonathan Hoefler explores something that typeface designers have long known but that researchers have only now corroborated: horizontal lines appear thicker than vertical ones.

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Chronicling from “below the API line”, as Venkatesh Rao calls it, are Austin Murphy with “I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I Deliver Packages for Amazon” in The Atlantic and Lauren Hough with “I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America” in The Huffington Post.

The depicted harshness of American work life for so many is terrible not just for those involved but for all. (Also these two share a prodigious unmet need to urinate on the job — is this the top new workplace tribulation?)

Friday, December 14th, 2018

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

The more you keep your mouth shut, the more fertile you become.

Saul Bellow

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Concentration without effort is the heart of the thing.

Saul Bellow

America and I, both exceptional, would together elude prediction and defy determinism.

Saul Bellow

The degree to which you challenge your own beliefs and expose them to destruction is a test of your worth as a novelist.

Saul Bellow

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

Million Dollar Consulting

Alan Weiss

♦♦♦

This most renowned book by the engaging Alan Weiss has a tone of practical, optimistic advice. Its title however is unfortunate as the first part may come off as cheesy while the second part comes off as only applying to consultants. Its subtitle, “The Professional’s Guide to Growing a Practice”, is more accurate; I was talking with an old friend who now has his own one-man legal practice and realized that pretty much all the book’s advice applies to him.

Although famous for advocating value billing rather than hourly, perhaps the book’s dominant concept is that you should invest your marketing energy in becoming a thought leader — in speaking and writing.

Weiss is a bit of a minor national treasure (despite hovering sometimes on the edge of bad taste — and I believe he is way sophisticated enough to understand exactly what he’s doing) and despite becoming slightly cranky in his more recent musings (not that I disagree with where he’s coming from, but political musings may be off-putting to others). He is a gifted writer in that having read his book you feel he is your friend looking out for you.

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Michael Chabon on Finnegan’s Wake [2012].

As my year of diving languorously into the murky waters of the Wake wore on, I came to feel that it was this failure, this impossibility, this grand futility of the Wake, that constituted its secret theme, its true aboutness.

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

First she called herself a Joycean, then she realized she’s more of a Joyceaholic. A great fun rueful erudite walk around the city that is James Joyce.

This is not the first time I’ve broken up with Joyce. A couple of years ago I decided we were in a co-dependent relationship. Except how could that be true if I was the only dependent one?

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

The Closing of the Hi-Gloss Colonel of American Letters Tom Wolfe’s Eyes. The New York Times obituary by Deirdre Carmody and William Grimes.

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

Make it work, ‘cos you’ve got opposites.

Irit Levy

Friday, May 11th, 2018

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

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

Joss Whedon on making The Avengers: “There’s very little that I didn’t look at. It’s like, This is a Dr. Strangelove moment. This is The Abyss. This is His Girl Friday. It’s constant. You have to have all that stuff sort of in a blender in your head.”

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

I can’t go for a few moments without sliding back my chair and gazing with massive self-love at my library.

Geoff Dyer, on books, in Unpacking My Library

Living abroad meant a move out of quotation marks.

Geoff Dyer, on books, in Unpacking My Library

Friday, April 20th, 2018

Another nice ongoing Grauniad series, this one where authors and writers describe their typical writing day.

The Paris Review compiles interviews from its archives on writing while under an influence.

Eventually I get down to writing and then the real problems begin.

Italo Calvino

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

In this interview Ursula K. Le Guin provides a rather thorough little course on the craft of fiction, covering present vs past tense, first-person vs omniscient narration, conflict as action.

“Henry James did the limited third person really well, showing us the way to do it. He milked that cow successfully. And it’s a great cow, it still gives lots of milk. But if you read only contemporary stuff, always third-person limited, you don’t realize that point of view in a story is very important and can be very movable. It’s here where I suggest that people read books like Woolf’s To the Lighthouse to see what she does by moving from mind to mind. Or Tolstoy’s War and Peace for goodness’ sake. Wow.”

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Craig Mod’s interview with Offscreen Magazine. “In my life, America is three locations: New York City, the Bay Area, and Asheville in North Carolina.” This writer/designer, who first impressed me with his review of the Apple Watch, lives in a small coastal town in Japan — some sort of digital-hipster James Bond. Things are very considered.

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

On artists with jobs. “That’s job jobs, the kind you hear about in stump speeches.” Speaking personally, I believe I knew a long time ago that this is a good path but I lacked the gumption to maybe be bored some of the day.

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Enjoying a nice independent bookstore, Wilfred M. McClay suddenly feels microbetrayed by their abuse of the term “curate”. A nice little one lamenting PC language.

Friday, March 9th, 2018

Tyler Cowen has a modest proposal: polarized shopping. “You get better deals from the companies you patronize regularly, most of all from airlines and hotels. It requires only some stretch of the imagination to think that more of those programs could be organized around ideology.”

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Tyler Cowen’s work habits while traveling. “Go somewhere — perhaps somewhere dangerous or disgusting — and simply plan to spend your full, normal work/writing day there.” Because: “By the end of the trip it will feel like a full vacation anyway, that’s how silly your memory is.”

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

The em-dash, “a talented mimic impersonating other punctuation…” [via Adactio]

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

City Journal has a nice new design by Goodfolk of Chicago. Dig the topics list, both the titles and their order. And on mobile at least the article titling over the imagery is intense.

Friday, November 24th, 2017

Jon Stewart with Howard Stern for some 90 minutes; they cover family, showbusiness, animal welfare. Two fine Yiddle, unlocked.

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

I disagree with his conclusion as I love the new translation (and I disavow anything else on the same site, I disavow!), but here Dr. Joshua D. Wilson, a Baptist pastor, analyses the grammar behind the rather radical recent change in English translations of בְּרֵאשִׁית 1:1 from “In the beginning…” to “When God began…”

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

What an internet treasure. Standard Ebooks is — according to their web site — “a volunteer driven, not-for-profit project that produces lovingly formatted, open source, and free public domain ebooks.” These are some beautiful, consistently-designed ebooks. The epub version works a charm in iBooks.

Monday, June 26th, 2017

“A wordy kind of Kardashian Instagram feed, without the self-awareness.” In this perfectly pitched skewering of Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman & Dave Eggers et al’s confrontation of the Occupation in the West Bank, Matti Friedman wonders what it’s all actually about. All this, plus: I don’t think I’ve ever seen such skilful use of the exclamation mark!

index topics writing writing

Arab Insanity Eroding

What shame, to have tainted with one’s own madness such benevolent bodies as civil aviation, non-combatant status in war — even United Nations human rights bodies.

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)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Andy Bell outlines new CSS functionality in Smashing Magazine.

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Howard Oakley provides this survey of paintings of trains.

Echolalia

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.”

Alan Weiss

Friday, February 5th, 2021

In a sign of the times of economic inequality in America, Cheap RV Living by Bob Wells, a long-time VanDweller, is increasingly relevant.

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.

Ra’anana-based Vertical Field signed with Emirates Smart Solutions & Technologies (ESST) to build a pilot of its vertical farms in the United Arab Emirates. Major cool.

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

Upending the conventional wisdom that happiness does not increase beyond an annual household income of $75,000, this study, using random ongoing smartphone check-ins, demonstrates a continued increase in well-being as income rises.

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Dated but still interesting: The Guardian looks at the rather disappointing design of Japanese newspaper websites.

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Nice backgrounder at Stat News on the history of mRNA vaccines.

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.

Friday, December 25th, 2020

The potential for warm relations between Israel and Morocco may be more than with the Gulf nations, this piece argues, as relations have been significant for some time.

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

The Basecamp fellows have released a new web development paradigm, Hotwire. I don’t quite get it, but with their pedigree and skill as the makers of Ruby on Rails, this could be big.

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

This lengthy interview with Secretary-General Sayyid Nasrallah may be useful for insight into Hezbollah’s perspectives. There are some bizarre connections, such as the notion that Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 because of deep concern regarding Iran’s “liberation of Khorramshahr” in the Iran-Iraq War.

Monday, December 21st, 2020

High Output Management

Andrew S. Grove

♦♦♦♦

In his careful, cogent and memorable take on effective management, Silicon Valley founding father Andy Grove places a surprising emphasis on meetings; he has the temerity to take issue with — or at least, refine — Peter Drucker’s admonition that they’re a waste of time. Grove’s issue: meetings are the very medium of management; his refinement: that there are actually two major types of meeting, routine and ad hoc, and it’s where there’s a profusion of the latter that something’s amiss.

This erstwhile CEO of Intel notes that while most management books are targeted either at the very top or the very bottom — at the CEO or at those who directly manage frontline workers — the majority of managers manage other managers, and it’s for them he mostly writes, the middle managers.

The book has the authority of someone eager to share lessons from his own extensive experience — indeed he seems to have always worked with one eye towards gaining such knowledge, in no small part because being able to convey what one knows ensures that one actually understands it; that is, managers should also write and teach.

Grove defines the aim of management as increasing the productivity of subordinates, which can be achieved in only two ways: by improving their skills and by improving their motivation. Skills are improved by training, which the manager should undertake himself, considering it not busywork but an opportunity to solidify his own understanding and role-model corporate behavior. Motivation meanwhile is improved best via one-on-one performance reviews. These measures for corporate success are bracingly clear and specific — both the reasoning behind them and how to undertake them.

A refugee from Nazi Europe, Grove may be a legend yet the book is suffused with a democratic humility, a great American sense that success can be approached by all as an engineering problem. A book among books.

PS — A high testament: I actually remembered all these points without reopening High Output Management. I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

What a huge story, Britain and France’s commitment to nuclear power, despite it being economically nonsensical in 2020, what with renewables ever cheaper. The amazing Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on nuclear power as a way to finance the Royal Navy.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

The architect would surely be pleased that there is once again a Frank Lloyd Wright hotel in Japan — though he’d probably say: Just the one? (Actually it’s not by Wright but Arata Endo, who seems a tasteful and disciplined disciple.)

The first lab-grown chicken meat will be served at a Singapore restaurant this weekend!

Good old Speccie:

For Britain, there are many lessons to be learned from the IDF, a democratic military machine that relies heavily on technology to engage enemies on various fronts and in diverse contexts.

This from “Britain is right to pursue closer military ties to Israel” by Jake Wallis Simons. I had not known that the source of Israel’s tip-off regarding Syria’s North Korean nuclear reactor was a British spy.

Definitely not of general interest, Global state in SSR with Vue and Node.js at sum.cumo.

Israel intercepts a cruise missile in a test of its 3-tier missile defence system.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

Ross Douthat in his typical perfect way essays on American childbearing in the really nice magazine Plough.

Israel to boost its alternative meat industry.. How wonderful is that. If it happens.

Monday, December 14th, 2020

Dave Rupert does a nice job (April 2018) listing the pitfalls of card UIs. I’m beginning to think though that for Rupert, a long list of drawbacks is throat-clearing for “I’m going ahead with this.”

Friday, December 11th, 2020

Well all this looks like too much fun: trailers for upcoming Marvel TV shows. It is indeed the best of times, the worst of times.

I’ve been surprised and disappointed by just how many people are hesitant to take up the COVID-19 vaccines now coming online. In this concerned Nautilus article “How to Build Trust in Covid-19 Vaccines”, the authors take on the issue with sober good sense, eg:

Mandatory vaccination policies should be avoided because they could backfire. More acceptable would be tying vaccination status to travel or access to public places.

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

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.

What a perfect, impassioned argument by Scottish, sorry, British broadcaster Neil Oliver in praise of keeping Britain. For him it is, correctly, not a confused affair of the dismal science but a clear celebration of the happy heart.

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

The Lean Startup

Eric Ries

♦♦♦♦

So much of Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup seems such conventional wisdom now that evaluating its merits is hard.

Entrepreneurship is about management. A startup is an institution designed primarily for learning; learning is accomplished by experimentation with the product and observing customers interact with these experiments; what is learned may then temper the vision for the product. Repeatedly iterated, this is the way through the eye of the startup needle, Reis argues, replete with numerous vivid examples, such as the Village Laundry Service in India learning what its customers mistrust and what they’re willing to pay more for.

The book refers back to and sits well alongside Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm and Steve Blank’s The Four Steps to the Epiphany, both of which I picked up next.

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Metatags.io, a very nice tool to test your metatags. Bravo, makers.

I’m at the beginning of the end of the middle.

ASK

Weekly became daily quickly.

ASK

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

It falls to Andrew Cunningham to take up the magisterial task of the Ars Technica review of macOS Big Sur.

3D model of Fallingwater by sighty for sale, including a portion of Bear Run, which interestingly gets cuts off even before the bridge that obviously crosses it, making this a model not of the house but of a model of it.

Boy, there are other models too. Here’s an interactive Fallingwater by archimore. It has the interior, even the raised rocks around the fireplace! (Though missing the grand swinging water heater.) The non-Wright dining-table chairs that Mrs Kaufman brought. The portrait of Edgar on the wall! Yet no walkway up to the Guesthouse, and no Guesthouse.

And another Fallingwater by Myles Zhang which does have the Gueshouse and ramp, even the steps into the swimming pool. And a very long stretch of Bear Run. It does have the round red water holer, but no furniture.

Would be good to merge these magnificent efforts to make a more detailed, canonical model.

Monday, November 23rd, 2020

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

George Carlin on Time in 1978. Embarrassingly I’d only ever seen him older. In interviews he says he set out to be Danny Kaye; I think that’s noticeable here.

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

“Indie developers need protection from monopolistic and anti-competitive practices from larger players in the market through strong government regulation, not a discount on their first $1m in sales.” “Apple’s 15% Deflection Tactic” by John Luxford.

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.]

Monday, November 16th, 2020

“How to Get Your First Customers So Your Company Doesn’t Die” by Matt Munson, a startup founder coach and investor. Some nice nuggets here, such as hiring salespeople in pairs so that you can compare them and be sure any issues are with individuals rather than the system.

 
 

•••

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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