Monday, September 25th, 2023
By the power of our example of the example of our power, either way… Walter Russell Mead towers over his lucky interlocutors on the Moment of Zen podcast.
Sunday, September 17th, 2023
John Murawski writes about the climate movement at RealClearInvestigations, quoting many dissenters. One mild enough quote is from Vaclav Smil, environmental scientist and policy analyst at the University of Manitoba:
We live in this world of exaggerated promises and delusional pop science. People don’t appreciate the magnitude of the task and are setting up artificial deadlines which are unrealistic.
Saturday, September 16th, 2023
Thursday, September 14th, 2023
Ivan Vendrov On Marl the Marginal User:
How is it possible that software gets worse, not better, over time, despite billions of dollars of R&D and rapid progress in tooling and AI? What evil force, more powerful than Innovation and Progress, is at work here?
In my six years at Google, I got to observe this force up close, relentlessly killing features users loved and eroding the last vestiges of creativity and agency from our products. I know this force well, and I hate it, but I do not yet know how to fight it. I call this force the Tyranny of the Marginal User.
Tuesday, September 12th, 2023
The World Climate Declaration: There is no climate emergency statement has been published by the Global Climate Intelligence Group and signed by 1609 scientists.
Monday, September 11th, 2023
A US-centric Hacker News discussion on domestic appliances, mainly dishwashers. The term “Miele” comes up here and there.
Sunday, September 10th, 2023
Nice Cosmopolitian piece: 10 Tiny Things He Hopes You Don’t Notice Him Doing During Sex by the spot-on Cosmo Frank.
Tuesday, September 5th, 2023
OK, stop this and get to work: more fun from Vulture: The Year of the Nepo Baby. Silly me, I did not know Josh Brolin’s mother is Barbra Streisand!
Tuesday, August 29th, 2023
Marginal Revolution hosts a https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2023/08/does-america-or-france-have-better-food.html thread on the relative merits of food around the world, focusing on Europe and the US.
Sunday, August 20th, 2023
A nice thread at Hacker News on Shit Life Syndrome with a particular focus on British seaside towns.
Monday, August 14th, 2023
The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Metropolitan Elite
After realizing I am in complete agreement with whatever I’ve read by Michael Lind, I turned to his book The New Class War. Here Lind details how we got to the current dysfunction whereby the social order set in place after WW2 broke down during the 70s as a result of pressures from ideas from both the political left and right, leading to the majority losing power to the elites.
His fix is to reinstate democratic pluralism by re-establishing trade (guilds), local civic (wards) and religious (congregations) institutions and giving them power. But how to make that happen? Lind notes that historically only rivalry with another power has forced elites to re-enfranchise the majority, as it’s how to best marshal the nation to its fullest ability.
And indeed, there is something that might achieve this, a single issue around which the Left and Right, the majority and the elites, can agree on, which is that China must be contained.
Sunday, August 6th, 2023
I’ve seen the name Jonathan S. Tobin for years but this is my first time linking to something by him. Here he masterfully casts doubt on the good faith of the current talk of Israeli–Saudi peace. As persuasive as Tobin is in building his argument, there is perhaps a shortcut. If the Saudi paper in the drawer is anything to go by, then if the message is floated via Friedman it is not to set a policy direction but to show a road that might have been taken if only Israel make some worrying concession or other. It can be quite an office, that of New York Times columnist.
Once again I link to Brendan O’Neill, Chief Political Writer at Spiked, a publication that increasingly seems to me just about the only sane and brave outpost out there. “The climate witch trials”, an excerpt from O’Neill’s new book A Heretic’s Manifesto, ingeniously frames climate orthodoxy within medieval witch hunts. Towards the end, O’Neill laments:
Since the 1960s, the intellectual classes have been pondering the ‘social construction’ of scientific truth. The Social Construction of Reality, by Peter L Berger and Thomas Luckmann, was published way back in 1966. French philosopher Bruno Latour was fawned over on campuses across the West for his theories on ‘the social construction of scientific facts’. Feminist philosopher Judith Butler thinks even biological sex is a social construct. Meanwhile, the cry goes up to ‘decolonise the science curriculum’, to weave ‘Indigenous Witch-Finding knowledge’ — an equally valid way of knowing, apparently — into scientific discussion.
Everywhere science is picked apart, dismantled, relativised, often in a way that undermines the entire project of scientific inquiry and its important search for knowledge. But climate-change science is never socially deconstructed. It is sacralised, made utterly unimpeachable, put beyond the grubby questioning of both the layman and the expert.
At the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Eran Lerman has written a number of times of Israel’s burgeoning relationships with Greece and Cyprus. Happy happy days!
Saturday, August 5th, 2023
Israel will sell missile defense to Finland. May ties between these two successful small countries (both have their own tags on my site) deepen no end.
Friday, August 4th, 2023
I might as well start addressing my thoughts as my Michael Linds because they appear to be one and the same:
Most of what is called “progressivism” today is really transgressivism.
Michael Lind, The Culture of Transgression
Thursday, August 3rd, 2023
At the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Tony Badran provides bracing clarity on the Biden Administration’s inimical posture in Lebanon, fallout from the ongoing preposterousness that an accommodation can be reached with the horrendous Iranian mullahs.
Each time Hezbollah provokes, the U.S. reliably steps in to “mediate” between the terror group and Israel, with the goal of “stabilizing Lebanon.” Needless to say, the Israeli role is strictly to make concessions in the framework of a U.S.-brokered agreement, at the risk of displeasing its American patron. Hezbollah, meanwhile, knows that the structure of this Kabuki performance prohibits Israel from retaliating, making its provocations more or less risk-free — especially given the fact that the “Lebanese state” is a fiction.
When the Israel–Lebanon maritime deal went through, I thought: this will bring Bibi back to power; the average Israeli will correctly perceive the deal as a dangerous sell-out by Lapid and vote for no more of it.
At the Gatestone Institute by Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut, a tour de force survey of other nations while Israel suffers the calumny of being called a racist state.
Sunday, July 30th, 2023
Reverse Shot’s review by Vikram Murthi does justice to Asteroid City, which I acknowledge despite not much liking the movie, which does feel a churlish and scummy thing to say about such an exquisite work.
Thursday, July 27th, 2023
Tuesday, July 25th, 2023
The increasingly invaluable Walter Russell Mead ventures beyond foreign policy:
As a grand hypothesis that claims to provide a single explanation for everything that happens in the heavens and on earth, the monotheistic idea is, for one thing, a daring leap that opens the door to a world of speculation and research—a path from tinkering to science. Postulating a single creator for the entire universe leads to the belief that the universe is predictable and rule driven. Events in the natural world are not just one darn thing after another; they do not reflect the caprices of minor deities. There are laws of nature, and because human beings are created by God—and in the Abrahamic religious accounts we were created in God’s image—most if not all of those rules should be discoverable by the human mind. The mathematical reasoning that we do in our heads corresponds with the mathematical structure that exists in the external world, and the experimental results we obtain in our labs here on earth can help us understand the nature of quasars at the far ends of the universe.
WRM says it so matter-of-factly, but it’s only conservatives who think this way; mainstream thought still adolescently pits religion in absolute tension with science.
Sunday, July 16th, 2023
“Amid all this madness it can be difficult to speak the truth about heatwaves. But we must try.” Brendan O’Neill hits it so well in “It’s a heatwave, not the end of the world”.
Saturday, July 15th, 2023
Glenn Loury and John McWhorter conduct a tour de force conversation on the affirmative action ruling.
Friday, July 14th, 2023
Some choice sentences from Paul Graham’s latest (and what looks to be his longest) essay, “How to Do Great Work”:
- Always preserve excitingness.
- Interest will drive you to work harder than mere diligence ever could.
- If you’re interested, you’re not astray.
The first of these needs no justification because it makes life fun; but if one falters and it does, the second does justify it; and the third meanwhile provides reassurance.
Dennis Prager laments the pandemic of adult children not speaking to their parents despite the Biblical commandment to honor them being no less than 5th on the list of 10, the first 3 being about God and the 4th about one’s own wellbeing, ie, Shabbat. Prager cites three primary causes for the affliction:
- The ascent of the therapeutic mentality
- Parental alienation … usually caused by one parent against the other during and/or after a divorce
- Ideological … there are probably hundreds of thousands of parents who voted for Donald Trump who have a child who will not speak to them because of that vote
This parental cutoff is a particularly devastating aspect of post-Judeo-Christian morays and Prager performs a service by pointing it out.
Monday, July 10th, 2023
Via the international treasure that is Colossal, The Cut films 100 young Americans scream as loud as they can.
Friday, June 30th, 2023
Regarding Secret Invasion, Nick Fury knows his wife is a skrull yet believes Earth isn’t big enough for humans and skrulls. This does not seem a tenable moral position.
Tuesday, June 27th, 2023
Don’t fight anti-Semitism, rather, fuck ’em. This is the Global Jewish Future approach, which builds on tenets of Zionism: we work on ourselves chabibi not on others. I am so totally with this, and disappointed with myself for not realizing that my disdain for all the anti-Semitism decrying comes from this happy place.
Thursday, June 22nd, 2023
Veteran Jerusalem Post strategic affairs analyist Herb Keinon reminds us of the meaning Germany’s $4b purchase of Israel’s Arrow-3 system:
These sales are important to Israel for two main reasons. First, they strengthen bilateral ties. If Israel is providing a country with weapons that keep it safe, that country – for instance, Azerbaijan or India, which have emerged as key markets for Israeli arms – will relate to Israel in a fundamentally different way than if there were no arms sales in the relationship.
The second reason these sales are so critical for Israel is that they make it possible for the country to conduct the research and development to produce the weapons it needs for its own survival.
Spengler AKA David Goldman argues pretty persuasively that economic and demographic realities may force historic rivals India and China into alliance. That said, Goldman’s been such a Cassandra lately, you wonder if he’s almost not wishing for a bad outcome over China just to show he’s been correct.
Wednesday, June 21st, 2023
Jakob Nielsen has written a series of articles (8 so far) on UX in the age of AI. They are:
- AI Is First New UI Paradigm in 60 Years
- AI Vastly Improves Productivity for Business Users and Reduces Skill Gaps
- AI vs. Metaverse: Which Is the 5th Generation UI?
- UX Needs a Sense of Urgency About AI
- Prompt-Driven AI UX Hurts Usability
- ChatGPT Does Almost as Well as Human UX Researchers in a Case Study of Thematic Analysis
- How Much UX Do You Need for AI Projects?
- “Prompt Engineering” Showcases Poor Usability of Current Generative AI
Tuesday, June 20th, 2023
Sometimes a straightforward number cuts through all the crap. Research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and Times of Israel blogger Hussain Abdul-Hussain notes that the populations of Arab minorities in Israel have grown just as the population at large has. “So much for “ethnic cleansing”,” he concludes.
Friday, June 16th, 2023
In spite of its beauty, Italy is a country of pessimists.
Edward Luttwak, The Berlusconi I Knew
Monday, June 12th, 2023
Its development was supposedly insanely expensive, internally contentious, and repeatedly delayed. But the result is so advanced and polished, it makes Meta’s VR headsets look like Blackberries.
My take on VisionPro: Tim Cook knew that the iPhone is near perfect for what it is, and Apple needs a whole new level of difficult to keep pushing the envelope technologically. Maybe I’m getting carried away, but I’ve just realized how many of my website’s categories this post is relevant to — a lot!
Contrast the tone of this Yahoo News article “Anti-LGBTQ backlash rattles US pride events” with every single one of the comments as far as I read, which was a few dozen.
Wednesday, June 7th, 2023
In “What’s your problem with Tailwind?” Chris Ferdinandi of Go Make Things articulates and illustrates why I’ve instinctively shied away from CSS frameworks:
It is faster during the prototyping phase… And then there inevitably comes a time where I need to update the style. Now, instead of just making a single change on a single class in a CSS file, I make a dozen little changes across numerous HTML elements scattered across many pages.
Basically, the styling code ends up being in the HTML, where it does not belong, rather than in the CSS, where it does.
At Why Svelte?, the homepage states “CSS is component-scoped by default” — the “by default” being the compliment vice pays to virtue. Because at the Github discussion on this issue (Ability to disable css scope across entire application #4764), Svelte Core Member/Maintainer @Conduitry, 2nd in commits only to founder Rich Harris, writes:
In general, using global CSS everywhere is something we want to steer people away from, and doesn’t feel like something we want to natively make easy or tacitly endorse.
The “C” in “CSS” stands for “cascading” yet the purpose of scoping CSS in components is to neuter that cascade. For the poster of this issue, Svelte’s stance was a dealbreaker, as it would be for me too. Scoped CSS components are the wussy option, which is fine and in many cases perhaps more viable, but the wussy option they should remain.
Sunday, June 4th, 2023
Interesting, seeing Ars Technica’s slant on Twitter’s handling of Matt Walsh’s What is a Woman because, like most tech blogs, they lean establishment/woke, and I’d expect some pushback in the comments. But instead the comments are far more supportive of the movement (I’m trying to find a term to speak of it without speaking against it, but it objects to even being termed) than is the piece itself, and quite a few condemn the author and the publication for irresponsibly posting a link to the film. One gem by mikesmith (8y, 3,207 comments):
The next time a right-wing weirdo confidently declares that the definition of “woman” is inexorably linked to their genitalia ask them how many genitals they’ve personally inspected to be sure about it since they’re so confident.
Saturday, June 3rd, 2023
Hugh Howey, author of Wool, the book(s) behind Silo, writes:
Science-fiction writers are best-positioned to have something worthwhile to say about society — though that’s perhaps a tautology; he’s not just supporting a policy, but speculating at which point in time it ideally should have been enacted!
Tuesday, May 30th, 2023
In his Mr Smart Everyman way, John Gruber speaks to the eternal tags vs folders topic in this interview with the maker of a new Mac gmail client. I was shouting though to the JamBox, my BlueTooth speaker (OK no longer a Jawbone Jambox, rather a UE Boom 2, but I still call it the Jambox) that folders aren’t just for the technically weak; they are a specific type of tag and are nestable, something that tags traditionally are not.
Monday, May 29th, 2023
How much has Microsoft changed really? Well, they’re doing unexpected things, but maybe they always did that. Here’s something cool from CB Insights on the Microsoft underwater data center from December 2018:
In 2016, Microsoft’s cloud-related patent application activity was twice that of Amazon and nearly 6x more than Google.
One example is Microsoft’s 2016 patent application for an Artificial Reef Datacenter. The patent is an iteration of a 2014 patent filed by Microsoft for a Submerged Datacenter.
In both patents, Microsoft looks to submerge data centers at the bottom of the ocean, which will cool the infrastructure naturally. In the earlier patent, Microsoft also outlined the possibility of using oceanic wind turbines to power the underwater data centers.
Since these patents were originally filed, Microsoft has begun work on Project Natick, an underwater data center off the coast of Scotland. The submerged data center runs on 100% locally produced renewable electricity from on-shore wind and solar as well as off-shore tide and wave sources.
But is this a PR stunt? There’ve been no Project Natick updates since July 9th, 2020. I suspect they just wanted to show the way for someone else to bother with the hard work, whom M$ would subsequently bend to their will by being their biggest customer.
Saturday, May 27th, 2023
The tone of this litany of complaints by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting author (and Orlando resident, I remember being told by a local taxi driver), reminds me of Victor Davis Hanson. I wonder on how many issue this ostensible leftist and rightist might actually agree.
Wednesday, May 24th, 2023
Some choice sentences regarding theses privileged medievalists blocking the way.
Tuesday, April 25th, 2023
At The Ringer, Succession via the prism of Tom:
Along with a five-figure Patek Philippe watch, Tom delivers a joke to Logan: “It’s incredibly accurate. Every time you look at it, it tells you exactly how rich you are.” Unimpressed, Logan says, “That’s very funny. Did you rehearse that?” … While watching Macfadyen in that scene, [Adam] McKay recalls, [Jesse] Armstrong leaned over to him and said, “Well, I’m going to have to expand this character.”