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Briefs

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!

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

If you happen to be on the lookout for a fresh homey brief humanistic web site, The Saunterer is by H. Charles Romesburg, Professor in the Department of Environment and Society, Utah State University.

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write.

Anthony Trollope

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

index topics writing writing

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, September 20th, 2020

It’s obvious but still worth reading a quick piece about: the people for whom Israeli-Gulf relations is a boon most of all are Arab Israelis.

In due time, they stand to serve as excellent mediators for any further economic and tourism ties between the UAE and Israel.

I considered Jonah Goldberg overrated until now. On the US DoE calling out Princeton’s woke bullshit, he nailed it:

Princeton: Take our confessions of systematic institutional racism seriously but not literally.

Friday, September 18th, 2020

“Recognizing that the Arab and Jewish peoples are descendant of a common ancestor…” — Let us savor the text of the Treaty of Peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Blessed are the peacemakers…

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Sunday, September 13th, 2020

This piece in The Federalist articulates how the American Left is projecting its own insurrectionism, nicely comparing their rhetoric to Southerners’ threats in the 1860 election should Lincoln win.

As author John Daniel Davidson writes, what they say “tells us less about what is likely to happen in the real world and more about the mendacious worldview, toxic prejudices, and treasonous imaginings of the elites themselves.”

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Parathyroid surgeon Dr Deva Boone informs us on Vitamin D.

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

Friday, September 4th, 2020

With “Beyond the Face of Race: Emo-Cognitive Exporations of White Neurosis and Racial Cray-Cray” co-authored by Robin DiAngelo of White Fragility, I’m reminded of the totally nutty 1991 book The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing (5 stars with 1,109 ratings on Amazon!).

That said, this paper reads altogether more sanely than that earlier work, though its self-described parables are pretty darn vicious; perhaps it’s telling that they’re explicitly not by DiAngelo but instead credited solely to co-author Cheryl E. Matias.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Israel and UAE sign their first agreement in the normalization talks: on banking and finance.

Monday, August 31st, 2020

UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan signs an order cancelling the boycott of Israeli goods. May they acquire a taste for Osem soup almonds and Beit Hashita pickles!

Dore Gold explains that Arab nations have long held common cause with Israel. This is part of Mosaic Magazine‘s symposium on the Israel-UAE peace accords, and contains links to the other essays.

After a friend forwarded me a crazy conspiratorial post by a mutual acquaintance, I turned for solace to Richard Hofstader’s 1964 essay “The Paranoid Style in American Politics”.

I’m also reminded of Steve Jobs on the topic:

Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic; it is learned and is the great achievement of Western civilization.

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

A solitary voice suggesting Vitamin D, Matt Ridley in The Spectator:

The bottom line is that an elderly, overweight, dark-skinned person living in the north of England, in March, and sheltering indoors most of the time is almost certain to be significantly vitamin D deficient. If not taking supplements, he or she should be anyway, regardless of the protective effect against the Covid virus. Given that it might be helpful against the virus, should not this advice now be shouted from the rooftops?

I do believe that the Western media — and therefore Western society in general — is actively uninterested in a biological reason for why darker-skinned people are suffering more from the novel coronavirus; such a materialistic and addressable cause does not fit the fashionable angle of systemic racism. So who suffers?

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

There are many utilities for macOS window management (looks like the most hackable and maybe powerful is Jigish Patel’s Slate) but what I personally rely on is a combination of TotalSpaces2 to keep the Spaces functionality that came and I think went with OS X Leopard; SizeUp for the snap functionality most easily found elsewhere (Moom, Spectacle, Cinch, Divvy, Amethyst); and Zooom/2 for moving and resizing windows and toggling sloppy focus, which I’ve not found anywhere else.

The above link to Zooom/2 is not however to its homepage but to a disk image I just posted because Zooom/2 is no longer available, as I realized when setting up a new Mac. You’re welcome.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

In his report of what we know so far on the Beirut explosion, David Wurmser unsurprisingly surmises that what exploded was a Hizbollah weapons cache. Perhaps the whole terrible tale will come to be known as FatimaGate and that we are witnessing, as Wurmser concludes, what “may indeed be the beginning of the end for Hizballah and the Syrian-Iranian Quisling government.”

“A juggernaut of creativity, innovation and high-tech:” US national security advisor Robert O’Brien provides Hugh Hewitt with inside baseball on the American angle of the magnificent Israel-UAE Abraham Accords.

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Jordan Peterson

♦♦♦♦

Jordan Peterson has huge charisma, period, and his recent travails serve to render him even more human. His efforts to ground our current unmoored times (the chaos referred to in the title) in the fertile garden of our intellectual and spiritual heritage (the curative order) are the work of the angels.

The first of his 12 Rules for Life is Nietzschian, an evolutionary biological backgrounder for the maxim to fake it till you make it. The second is Rousseauian: we must love ourselves with amour de soi rather than amour-propre. But the whole thing — and particularly this second rule — is peppered with discussion of founts fundamental to me — Genesis, Taoism, Jung — so that the book feels like it fell out of my own mind, albeit a more disciplined, erudite, deeper version.

Either because of this over-familiarity or because the book is in fact junk food, I cannot remember anything of it as I revisit a few weeks later to write this. Is Peterson merely an Alain de Botton of the Right, a popularizer / informal codifier of what every self-respecting Westerner already knows? Either I need to pick up the book and start again, or perhaps stop reading everything else and get back to the Bible, Plato and Aristotle.

Commentary Magazine‘s Abe Greenwald speaks to the current revolutionary moment:

Because the United States is fundamentally good, most Americans may, in time, become circumspect about tearing it all down.

Here’s hoping.

“From left field, a world-changing moment executed by the executive branch…” The Commentary Magazine podcasters speak to the historic Israel-UAE deal.

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

2020: an isolation odyssey by (in case you miss her name in the credits) Lydia Cambron. [Via DF]

It’s been a while since I’ve found use for the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. But this latest one is like the Friedman of yore, before degenerating into partisanship and pandering: he warns the United States that a polity such as Lebanon where everything is political cannot hold (never mind that the politicality of everything is a philosophical touchstone of the side to which he panders).

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

Monday, August 10th, 2020

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Shamefully kowtowing to China, Israel has withdrawn a Ministry of Health public service video that humorously refers to the coronavirus as “Made in China (yet works properly)”. This isn’t going well is it?

Thursday, August 6th, 2020

Bahaa Hariri: “It is crystal clear Hezbollah are in charge of the Port and the warehouse where the ammonium nitrate was stored.”

Dave Seminara writes “When Your Favorite Companies Go Woke” in The Wall Street Journal (paywall).

I feel similarly regarding the homepage banners at Node.js (“#BlackLivesMatter”) and Linode (“Black Lives Matter. Linode is committed to social justice and equality.”), both of which I rely on for my work. There are substitutes for Linode, but none for Node.

Given what this American Spectator article contains — the transcript of the exchange between George Floyd and the arresting policemen before he was even on the ground and the toxicology report stating George Floyd’s death was in all likelihood due to an overdose — the shit gonna hit the fan whether the courts find police innocent or guilty.

On Vitamin D and Covid-19 [via Marginal Revolution]. If there’s any truth in the conclusion here — that vitamin D deficiency worsens Covid-19 deadliness by an order of magnitude — then surely it is criminally negligent to not be running public awareness campaigns encouraging people to take vitamin D supplements — especially for darker-skinned citizens, adapted to block out sunlight and consequently vitamin D, and especially in sunlight-challenged locales.

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

In wake of Phil Schiller’s ascent, Cult of Mac lists all the Apple Fellows.

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

This is gold. For Bar-Ilan University’s BESA Center, Kenneth S. Brower pens a blunt bracing comprehensive assessment “Israel Versus Anyone: A Military Net Assessment of the Middle East” with conclusions aplenty. Here’s one:

The Israeli political-military leadership has over-responded to the current tactical threat posed by Iran and its non-state forces and has all but ignored the looming potential strategic threat of renewed hostility with Sunni Arab nations.

Friday, July 31st, 2020

Soderbergh’s Raiders, so that we can marvel at Spielberg’s craft in staging.

The Smithsonian posts a nice little piece on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House, designed for the wheelchair-bound client who clearly adored his wonderful home, which is now thankfully a museum.

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

♦♦♦♦

It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work may be a business book but, like Peter Drucker’s best, I found it profound. We can forget that business itself is profound, the intended happy medium of most modern collective endeavor. For authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of the Basecamp organizational management software-as-a-service, business is the expression of philosophy. They counsel practicing it humanely, moderately and deliberately.

They establish authority with a first shock, an obvious idea you’ve almost certainly not thought of yourself: that a company should be considered a product, its employees the users. In fact this is a framing analogy for the entire book; like Nietzsche’s preface to Beyond Good and Evil positing that we suppose Truth be a woman, it throws wide open our thinking on our subject.

Another shock: they advise eschewing goals: “You don’t need something fake to do something real.” How shatteringly refreshing is that! Especially since my previous book was John Doerr’s Measure What Matters, which is all about goals. I had been excited for the Doerr book, but couldn’t finish it due to the sterile-speak of the case studies, which — unwarrantedly perhaps — undercut my faith in the concept. In contrast, Fried and DHH have the clear bracing style of successful coding entrepreneurs. This helps overcome the natural worry that going goal-less means a descent into hedonic anarchy, instead what they seek is appropriateness and authenticity. That said, I wonder whether this is the idea they’re most likely to step back from in future.

A third novelty seems downright crazy: they advocate not selling licenses by the seat, but by the organization. “It doesn’t matter if you have 5 employees, 50, 500, or 5,000 — it’s still just $99/month total. You can’t pay us more than that.” They leave this money on the table as part of deliberately designing the culture of their company (see the first idea); they don’t want to be dependent on a few large customers, nor create an internal cultural schism between serving small business and enterprise.

Similarly, they decided to stop accepting checks for payment just because it was a hassle, which did lose them some customers. This however is a less controversial notion, akin to Apple removing older technologies from new products despite their still being in widespread use and absorbing the hue and cry.

The authors also believe that the American-inspired work ethic of long hours is counterproductive and inhumane. Having worked at an Israeli software services giant I’m in agreement here too; at Amdocs if you went home after a mere 9 hours in the office you were perceived to be not pulling your weight (and, in my case, eventually laid off). And when I was temporarily attached to teams for international business trips, it seemed that all the team leaders were either divorced or in the process of becoming so.

Some of the authors’ values only apply to their particular industry. They make a claim for good enough rather than perfectionism — this is fine when your product is web-based software where one can churn out a fix at little cost, but not for many other high-value products such as cars.

In my small own small way I already practice much of what the authors preach. My only qualm is that while I love their philosophy, I’ve never much liked Basecamp itself.

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

Paul Graham is on the case and thank goodness. As an uber-geek he reduces the current cultural moment into a clear and bracing 2×2.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Nixon Library to a new posture regarding China.

If we bend the knee now, our children’s children may be at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party … securing our freedoms from [the CCP] is the mission of our time.

Friday, July 24th, 2020

If we stopped testing now we’d have very few cases — or any.

US President Donald J Trump

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

We’re humans; fun matters.

Derek Sivers

In their respective theatres of the Middle East, Europe and Eurasia, the prime strategic directive for liberal bulwarks Israel, Britain and the United States is to block aspiring authoritarian hegemons.

ASK

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

In an artificial world, only extremists live naturally.

Paul Graham, “You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss”

The essence of programming is to build new things.

Paul Graham, “You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss”

A normal job may be as bad for us intellectually as white flour or sugar is for us physically.

Paul Graham, “You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss”

All races are equal but some are more equal than others. The Associated Press will not be capitalizing the word “white” when referring to race, but will do so for “black” and “indigenous”. This was quite the decision. I wonder if they’d do similarly within the Jewish context, ie “ashkenazi” vs “Sephardic” Jew.

 
 

•••

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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