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Central Israel iPhone 6S Herzlia, Israel Tuesday, September 27th, 2016.

Who am I?
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Who am I? iPhone 6S Denver, Colorado Thursday, October 12th, 2017.

Central Israel
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Central Israel iPhone 6S Herzlia, Israel Tuesday, September 27th, 2016.

•••

About

Briefs

Monday, February 12th, 2024

For the past few months I’ve retreated from working on a software product to, well, for a month after October 7th I didn’t seem to get much work done, then I was working on software systems for clients. Now dipping my toe back into RSSDeck, the biggest edifice I’ve ever created, I’m inspired by this short piece by Jason Fried, “To Make”:

I’ve consulted. I’ve done client work. I’ve advised. I’ve served on boards. I’ve invested. I’ve written books. I’ve spoken on the circuit. I’ve blogged for years. I have to say, I’ve found no greater professional joy than working with a tight group of people to ship and support our own products.

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.

Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

Oh my, Michael Lind writes in Tablet exactly what I’ve been thinking, so forgive the extensive quoting:

The Western elite culture of transgression is an example of antinomianism … Derived from the Greek words meaning “against” and “law” or “norm,” the term antinomianism refers to the view that all laws and norms are oppressive always and everywhere, and that the act of transgression in itself is virtuous, if not holy.

The three saints of transgression are the illegal immigrant, the transsexual, and the woman who proudly celebrates abortion. All three are idealized by our revolutionary ruling class precisely because they violate traditional norms — the traditional norm of patriotism, based on the legitimacy of the city-state or nation-state or kingdom and its laws and borders; traditional gender norms; and traditional family norms, which celebrate the capacity of women to give birth and to nurture their infants and of men to provide for them. Most of what is called “progressivism” today is really transgressivism.

By now the antinomians in Western nations have won their war against tradition in every realm.
Having vandalized every premodern tradition, the elite antinomians of the modern West now don’t know what to do next. What should rebels against the bourgeoisie rebel against when the bourgeoisie has fallen?
The answer, it is increasingly apparent, is to rebel against the proletariat.

Whatever working-class “normies” believe and enjoy, the most influential tastemakers of the trans-Atlantic ruling class denounce and seek to ban, using one of their three or four specious all-purpose justifications. If non-college-educated Americans were to take up square dancing as a fad, the powers that be in the media and academia would solemnly inform us that square dancing is problematically racist or sexist or worsens climate change.

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.

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, March 25th, 2023

Woke:

  • its core demand: are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?
  • describes the ongoing cultural revolution which defines reality by its usefulness in achieving left-wing goals

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

I’m Bing, and I know the date. ????. Perhaps I’m missing something, but surely: Fuck M$, and fuck $A?

Friday, January 6th, 2023

Sunday, November 20th, 2022

Episode #105 of the All-In Podcast is a bumper one, covering the Musk-led collapse of what David Sacks refers to as the excess elites jobs program, wherein high-status people who cannot be particularly economically productive after their training in sycophancy at a woke madrassa are nonetheless absorbed.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

A good ol’ rant by everyone against Microsoft in this Hacker News thread, this time about Teams. When o when will this monstrosity of a corporation die already. “Developer-friendly”; may the GitHub guys get what they deserve for selling out to the Borg.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Very ambitious people probably need colleagues more than anyone else, because they’re so starved for them in everyday life.

Paul Graham, What I’ve Learned from Users

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Really good interview with Seth Godin who had dropped off my radar because his posts felt too brief and too pat unto banality. I love his back-of-the-bottle trick for public speaking. Plus he closes with Eli Goldratt!

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022

Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

While working on things that aren’t prestigious doesn’t guarantee you’re on the right track, it at least guarantees you’re not on the most common type of wrong one.

Paul Graham, What I Worked On

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

A reminder to just ship it:

I was scrolling their landing page and I was happy and furious at the same time. Someone solved the problem that I was solving. It was like someone literally read my mind and started coding. WHAT.

I have previously sent a video of my app to a couple of people (closest I came to shipping it) so I started getting suspicious if someone actually shared the video of my app with these people because they were solving literally the same problem, and they most of the features that I had.

I started getting this overwhelming happy, sad, and panicky feeling. I literally cannot explain how I felt while scrolling their page.

Saturday, May 7th, 2022

Tony Fadell from his new Build book:

And you have to hold on to that “why” even as you build the “what”—the features, the innovation, the answer to all your customers’ problems. Because the longer you work on something, the more the “what” takes over—the “why” becomes so obvious, a feeling in your gut, a part of everything you do, that you don’t even need to express it anymore. You forget how much it matters.

When you get wrapped up in the “what,” you get ahead of people. You think everyone can see what you see. But they don’t. They haven’t been working on it for weeks, months, years. So you need to pause and clearly articulate the “why” before you can convince anyone to care about the “what.”

Saturday, February 5th, 2022

During this -26.4% period of reckoning for Facebook, David Goldman has linked to his 2012 essay What if Facebook is really worth $100 billion?

Where are the ads targeted to my tastes – harpsichords, assault rifles, kosher cookbooks, and cat toys? Perhaps I haven’t posted enough for the Matrix to process my profile. Still, I suspect that the more people use Facebook, the less the computers really will know about them … What makes Facebook so popular? The answer, I think is that Facebook exalts the insignificant.

Me, I never understood why Facebook and Microsoft are valued alongside Apple, Google and Amazon, which seem to have locks on more fundamental aspects of our lives: Apple for our increasingly central digital devices, Google for information garnered via those devices, and Amazon for fulfilling much of our material consumption. Yes, Facebook seems to have a lock on our relationships with friends and family, but it’s likely that nobody wants that intermediated by anything more than a tool; it’s the part we most want to keep keeping real.

Microsoft seems to have saved its bacon by going into gaming — which it totally deserves having developed the XBox — and by buying GitHub — and then in turn NPM! — and moving closer than any other corporation to open source, which was a scarily brilliant move that kind of upgrades its own DNA as a software maker (even as it likely somehow eventually stymies human progress). Its other big purchase, LinkedIn, strengthens M$‘s lock on the domain they’ve dominated for decades: the workplace. To me the Michael Scott social network seems more feasible to monetize than Facebook, but beyond that, the workplace feels at home with Microsoft; a Microsoft product need only be almost as good as a competitor’s to be selected. It’s a great brand that way. I guess. And being wrapped up in the Apple ecosphere one can forget that Microsoft remains the dominant player in device operating systems. Nonetheless in comparison to these other giants M$ seems a company just trying to keep up — though wasn’t it ever thus yet things continue to work out just fine for them.

Whereas Facebook’s Metaverse, without having watched the video, seems to either be a quest to dominate the online identity business, which, while suitably and juicily ambitious and evil, does not seem to be as giant a business as the others. Or else the Metaverse is a revisit of Second Life with improved resolution. Only if human existence on earth goes very pear-shaped indeed might people prefer this Virtual Reality Metaverse to a pair of Apple Vision shades, and of course if things got that bad we wouldn’t have the working infrastructure to power our Oculus Shmockuluses. Rather, perhaps Meta’s future is in analytics — even its new name suggests so — which is (hopefully) not as big a business as that of the other FAANGs.

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Computer, enhance! Jeff Dean, Senior Fellow and SVP, presents Google Research’s R&D accomplishments of the year — this company, wow.

Generative models for images … have made significant strides over the last few years. For example, recent models have demonstrated the ability to … “fill in” a low-resolution image to create a natural-looking high-resolution counterpart (“computer, enhance!”)…

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

Social media is the opium of the 21st century, and the young tech wizards who infest Silicon Valley are the moral successors of the young Etonians who forced India to grow the drug and forced China to buy it.

David P. Goldman, How the Virtual Empire Corrupted America: My January 2000 Warning

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

At Starter Story, Ed Baldoni, founder of Concrete Countertop Solutions, tells the story of how his business has reached $1.1m in monthly revenue.

I was a developer/ home builder for over 40 years. As a builder, I was always looking to stay ahead of the curve and offer new ideas to my clients … Our Z Counterform System for countertops and Z Poolform System for concrete pool coping are the go-to solutions for cast-in-place concrete forms. With a small but dedicated team, we grew this business from an idea to over $12M in revenue in 10 years.

Exciting story, exciting product.

Saturday, November 6th, 2021

A note from the MetaCompany:

On October 28th, 2021, Facebook decided to commit trademark infringement and call themselves “Meta”. They couldn’t buy us, so they tried to bury us by force of media. We shouldn’t be surprised by these actions — from a company that continually says one thing and does another. Facebook and its operating officers are deceitful and acting in bad faith, not only towards us, but to all of humanity.

Friday, November 5th, 2021

Walter Russell Mead points out that the USA and EU are progressing towards trade deals at the expense of China. This is a grand thing, a major story, that I’m not seeing reported anywhere else at all.

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

From the bubbling, dexterous mind of Venkatesh Rao we have two rich essays posted within two days: “Storytelling — Cringe and the Banality of Shadows” and “Remystifying Supply Chains: Supply chains are TV for matter”.

The supply chain crisis is in some ways more unprecedented than Covid itself, given that containerized supply chains, and the world of distributed, networked, computationally coordinated production they enabled, are only a few decades old.

This is the first crisis of this magnitude to hit them.

To find a comparable crisis in history you have to go back to World War 2, with U boats sinking transatlantic shipping. And that was in an era when global trade was less than a third of today’s levels if I’m not mistaken (as a fraction of GDP) and still in the ancient mode of breakbulk shipping.

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

What a great piece on the dysfunctionality of online advertising at the now-defunct The Correspondent, “The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising” [2019] by Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn.

Picture this. Luigi’s Pizzeria hires three teenagers to hand out coupons to passersby. After a few weeks of flyering, one of the three turns out to be a marketing genius. Customers keep showing up with coupons distributed by this particular kid. The other two can’t make any sense of it: how does he do it? When they ask him, he explains: “I stand in the waiting area of the pizzeria.”

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Matt Stoller explains how one company, Varsity Brands (owned by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital), sucks life out of the American heartland with its grotesque monopoly on cheerleading.

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days

Jessica Livingston

♦♦♦♦

I transcribed more of this book than any other, quoting these great guys who’ve been there and done that; it’s one for dipping in to when seeking inspiration.

The author — wife and Y Combinator partner to Paul Graham — gets out the way as much as possible and lets these guys speak; think Studs Terkel but only with hugely successful tech people.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

The Guardian posts an excerpt from Gillian Tett’s Anthro-Vision. Regarding working from home, a senior trader at JP Morgan observed:

The really big problem was incidental information exchange. “The bit that’s very hard to replicate is the information you didn’t know you needed,” observed Charles Bristow, a senior trader at JP Morgan. “[It’s] where you hear some noise from a desk a corridor away, or you hear a word that triggers a thought. If you’re working from home, you don’t know that you need that information.” Working from home also made it hard to teach younger bankers how to think and behave; physical experiences were crucial for conveying the habits of finance or being an apprentice.

The most valuable sort of press is not articles about you, it’s when people mention you in passing as a matter of course.

Paul Graham, Founders at Work

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

What a sinking feeling, reading the announcement that Marginal Revolution is launching on Facebook’s Substack ripoff Bulletin”:https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2021/06/a-more-than-marginal-boost-for-marginal-revolution.html (I get a blank screen in Firefox, and naturally there’s no RSS feed). It’s interesting that trillion-dollar Facebook feels so threatened by Substack.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine

Antonio Garcia Martinez

♦♦♦♦

As author Antonio García Martínez battles away as an eager newcomer at Facebook, his account jolts one awake to the somewhat forgotten power of literature: we are reminded that what will survive these times will likely not be the mammoth trillion dollar company but instead this book.

And shame on Apple, caving to those who campaigned to have Martinez fired recently from his new job there because of some gross and silly yet heartfelt generalization in the book of San Francisco womenfolk; such philistine snowflakes do little more than buttress his point, as well as forcing our author to remain up on these more commanding if perhaps less remunerative cultural heights.

Sunday, June 27th, 2021

Lawyers didn’t get into law because they’re good at business.

Antonio García Martínez, Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

If you do business in LatAm, you’ve got a Miami office. Prodigal son Antonio García Martínez returns to Miami, now on a Substack-fueled writing mission.

I was raised in the Miami of the wild 80s and 90s, and more or less abandoned the city for 20 years before going back due to a family illness circa 2014. Much to my everlasting shock, all the twee fineries of overpaid SF tech life were there: pretentious craft beer poured by bearded lumbersexuals inside stylized industrial loft spaces; whimsically-named, garishly-painted food-trucks clustered in parking lots-turned-parks serving Korean/Mexican fusion tacos; pompous ‘Third Wave’ coffee places (in a city where espresso was already ubiquitous) featuring pierced baristas conjuring a pourover with all the seriousness of a priest performing the eucharistic miracle; glass-clad, high-rise condo buildings, indistinguishable from the same douche-cubes in SF’s SoMa (“GRANITE COUNTERTOPS, STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES”) growing like mushrooms in a dewy field throughout the formerly sleepy downtown.

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

In big companies, the product spec is market-driven; in startups, the marketing is product-driven.

Steven Blank, The Startup Owner’s Manual

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Via Hacker News, and in the grand spirit of Charlie Munger’s edict to “Invert, always invert,” this is Julio Merino on “Always be Quitting”.

So what does it mean to always be quitting? It means “making yourself replaceable”; “deprecating yourself”; “automating yourself out of your job” … The key lies in NOT being indispensable … Paradoxically, by being disposable, you free yourself. You make it easier for yourself to grow into a higher-level role and you make it easier for yourself to change the projects you work on.

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

JD Vance on demolishing woke capital. Straightforward and dispassionate.

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

At Lockheed-Martin, White Men As Full Diversity Partners — a workshop for senior executives. Well I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks. Excruciating.

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

There is no correlation — in fact, probably an inverse correlation — between how badly you behave and how much money you make.

Paul Graham, Billionaires Build

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

Steven Gary Blank

♦♦♦♦

Unlike any other book on startups I’ve read to date, this one really gets down into the weeds, ready and willing to be unentertaining in order to get the reader to do what needs doing. This is the real deal from the man perhaps most responsible for codifying what a startup actually is as opposed to an established business.

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

Content is information you don’t need.

Paul Graham, Post-Medium Publishing

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.

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.

Wednesday, November 18th, 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.

Sunday, November 15th, 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.

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

CEO Chris Best talks Substack with Eric Johnson of Recode. Email as a reading medium, I’m not drawn to it, but maybe because I still live with spam.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

There’s a big difference between nothing and almost nothing, when it’s multiplied by the area under the sun.

Paul Graham, General & Surprising

Sunday, November 8th, 2020

On NPM becoming part of Microsoft, by Bryant Jimin Son. I feel stalked in my work life by Microsoft, which I strive to avoid ever since their horrible behavior re IE6. First Skype, then Atom, now NPM. Fortunately, there are alternatives.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

“Dubai is gulping the dividends of the peace with Israel with great thirst … there is mutual inspiration without the typical, regrettable condescension on our part.” Israeli journalist Ben Caspit spends four days in Dubai. Wawaweewa, the stuff of fondest fantasy!

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

Some nice detail here about the business players poised to first benefit from the Abraham Accords.

The first big winner is Israel’s foremost venture capitalist and investment banker, Edouard Cukierman. Cukierman, who has the largest portfolio of Israeli biotech and technology startups through his Tel Aviv-based Catalyst Investment Fund, is also Israel’s leading mid-market M&A banker through his family’s Cukierman & Co Investment House.

index topics business business

Israel–Iran Proxy War, Day #50

Midway through the hostage deal and ceasefire are two concerns: will the ceasefire become permanent, letting Hamas remain in place? And on what basis does US support for the war rest and will it continue?

Simchat Torah War, Day #17

The US sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, Israel postponed its ground incursion, and the Western media acknowledged its erroneous reporting.

Arab Insanity Pull-up

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

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

Even if a web site appears differently at different screen sizes, it should still feel like itself. On a larger canvas more expression abounds; distill this into the smaller screen and get more personality; 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)

Friday, May 24th, 2024

Yossi Klein-Halevi: We have to own the strangeness of our story. I’ve been having similar thoughts; there is no comparable nation to Israel. Right from the get go we endemically punch way above our weight — this small nation sandwiched between bigger empires declared its god to be the only one, negating everyone else’s! It’s a world religion that — unlike any other world religion — doesn’t proselytize because it’s the religion of a nation, so grows through the womb not the meme. Always being small in one’s arena means always being a target.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2024

The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board cuts through the miasma:

Though Israeli liberals won’t like to hear it, Israel probably will need to fill the vacuum in Gaza for a time. Though Israeli right-wingers won’t like to hear it, the purpose would be to make way for local governance. The politics, there and here, explain why it has been easier to pretend there’s no plan at all.

Monday, May 20th, 2024

“Helikopter, Helikopter”. As someone says in the comments, it’s the new Iranian anthem.

Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Sense from John Spencer as reported by CNN of all outlets.

By going slowly, I can argue through history and through metrics, it gives your enemy more time to defend, more time to prevent your plans, more time to prevent you from achieving surprise. We, as in the world, are also responsible for some of the destruction that’s happened in Gaza.

Friday, May 17th, 2024

We are at a moment where what’s morally indefensible is becoming socially acceptable.

Tal Becker, “Call Me Back”, May 16th

Classy Abe Greenwald’s “Woke Jihad” in Commentary makes no bones about the commonality of social justice and Islamist movements: they both want to tear it all down. There are many quotable bits, here’s one paragraph:

The love between the two camps, however, is not reciprocal. Leftists love the jihadists. They love them for their ferocity and exoticism as much as for their bottomless self-pity. Those are the constituent elements of social justice. It’s why we see protesters trying to shape-shift into war-ravaged Palestinians, asking for humanitarian aid, claiming chemical attacks on students, grasping to bask in the reflective glow of the nobly oppressed. But no properly chauvinistic jihadist could feel anything but disgust for the unchecked females, sexual libertines, heathens, and even Jews he’s been forced to instrumentalize in the cause of Islamist domination.

It also dives into the source of their money, which I’m less interested in though it’s very important. Does Bill Gates actually support any of this? Why is he helping fund it if not?

A revolutionary cannot live on microaggressions alone.

Abe Greenwald, “Woke Jihad” in Commentary Magazine

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

David Wurmser at the Center for Security Policy, the first I’ve come across to synthesize Israel’s Eurovision popular vote win:

Israel seems to be casting some light that is shining onto populations and peoples far away, triggering in them a rediscovery of themselves and what made those distant lands and cultures great.

He notes the dichotomy between the popular vote and the judges:

Many of the nations in which Israel won the popular vote by wide margins had their judges award Israel zero points. Western European elites led the trend: the UK, Switzerland, Luxembourg, San Marino, Spain, Finland, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Andorra, Belgium, and Sweden all had been won by Israel with 12 points on the popular vote, but all had the judged award Israel zero points. Four of the five UK judges had ranked Israel as the worst song of the 35.

Eric Cohen’s Exodus project: American Jews need to contribute to renewal.

Monday, May 13th, 2024

Brendan O’Neill in The Telegraph:

[Green agitation and radical Islam], at root, represent a disgust with modernity. Both the privileged Western weepers over industrial society and the Islamist haters of Israel share an aversion to the modern world, to progress, to Enlightenment itself.

Climate Justice for Palestine! Mental. Though there’s precious little more in this piece linking the two deranged movements, both of which start from a place of ostensible decency yet veer almost immediately into the weeds of venality and beyond, I’ve been waiting for someone to at least touch on the shared ideational foundations. Here they fuse in one charismatic which might alone shed some light on their commonality. One thing they share is hate, demonstrating wilful disregard for actual causes and workable solutions in favor of vilification of the chosen villain and a desire to dismantle existing structures (modernity; Israel) which if ever actually successful would be imagined catastrophe.

John Bolton in The Telegraph:

Piling on publicly in the middle of a war is imprudent, even juvenile, damaging the respect and trust allies must sustain during times of crisis and tension. The propaganda opportunities handed to hostile powers are immeasurable. And if Biden is prepared to cut loose one of America’s most valued partners, what does that foretell for those more-distant, less-favoured than Israel? How does Ukraine feel? Or Taiwan?

A few days in to the announcement of withholding weapons and the Biden Administration is in contortions trying to walk it back a bit, at least rhetorically. Oh dear they are in a mess. And why? Venality. A belief in something, anything, could fortify them with the intestinal fortitude required to stay the course.

Sunday, May 12th, 2024

Just when you think Bidenite kindergarten diplomacy couldn’t get any worse, can it be true that they are withholding intelligence from Israel on Hamas leaders’ whereabouts? No, if I had to wager I’d say this Washington Post story is not true; it’s just too egregious.

The Daily Mail seems to cover all angles of Eurovision 2024 in this sprawling report. Politics aside, I thought the Irish entry was pretty amazingly performed. I missed the Swiss song as too many bland numbers had forced me away from the screen, and my faith in Eurovision songwriting is not up to searching for it to listen to it. But mainly: I was totally taken aback by the number of votes for Israel; I know there’d been a campaign to do so and supporters probably went out and bought extra SIMs — Jews vote — but surely not in enough numbers to achieve the level reached; the mostly-European public spoke and it was briefly intensely heartwarming. As was seeing Eden Golan’s return to Israel at Benny-G arrivals.

Tuesday, May 7th, 2024

Potholes are a great heuristic for evaluating national decline, and Britain’s here has been especially egregious. In this excellent bit of reporting in The Telegraph, the main culprit seems to be, like at least with one other major problem, legislation from the 90s:

Part of the issue is a little-known change in the law in 1991. Prior to this, companies had to pay highway authorities to repair roads after they’d been dug up. Westminster council charged £120 per square metre for this work. But under the New Roads and Street Work Act of 1991, utilities could reinstate their own openings. Costs dropped to an estimated £40 per square metre. In theory the savings should have resulted in lower bills (or fatter margins for the utility companies). But the change in the law clearly had a number of unintended consequences.

Hussein Aboubakr Mansour writes on Middle Eastern history, Arab intellectual life, philosophy, Jewish history, and Middle Eastern politics. He calls his Substack “The Abrahamic Critique”.

Monday, May 6th, 2024

The Wall Street Journal’s Letters Editor Elliot Kaufman lays out Biden’s series of errors regarding Gaza, in particular his lack of pressure on Egypt to step up.

How did the president get here? Mr. Biden isn’t “Genocide Joe” any more than he is “pro-Hamas.” He has been boxed in and brought low by his own mistakes.

To my mind it all stems from cowardice; leaning on reasonable friends is less scary than on iffy partners, let alone adversaries.

Sunday, May 5th, 2024

I cannot (yet) follow Lee Smith to his conclusion that the Biden Administrations’ goal is American decline and defeat (though there was a strong strain of this in its precursor Obama Administration); rather than conspiratorial and malevolent, it seems more likely due to the more common weaknesses of delusion and cowardice.

Moreover Israel shares some blame for being weak-willed enough in recent months to go along with the Administration’s tacit protection of Hamas.

Benny Morris, prescient in 2008:

Many Israelis feel that the walls — and history — are closing in on their 60-year-old state, much as they felt in early June 1967, just before Israel launched the Six-Day War.

Saturday, May 4th, 2024

Friday, May 3rd, 2024

In The Telegraph, Allister Heath spells it out:

West-hating pro-Palestinian protests are a harbinger of much worse to come.

Israel must stop faffing.

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

How heartwarming is this exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Yossi Klein-Halevi. Who better to thank HH for his steadfastness and engagement since Oct 7.

[Update 2024 May 7]: Hewitt is even reading out the names of the young Israeli fallen after the rocket attack on Keren Shalom. I hope when Hewitt gets over to Israel he is appropriately feted; how many people his erudite common sense must be reaching as they commute to and from mid-sized cities throughout the American heartland.

Tuesday, April 30th, 2024

This is how the Associated Press presents the US intifada encampments:

The outcry is forcing colleges to reckon with their financial ties to Israel, as well as their support for free speech. Some Jewish students say the protests have veered into antisemitism and made them afraid to set foot on campus.

What a topsy-turvy whitewash.

There is also:

The protests have even spread to Europe…

What’s interesting is why they haven’t mainly been in Europe.

Thursday, April 25th, 2024

In contrast with the Jonathan Freedland piece I linked to earlier, Armin Rosen’s survey “The Israel-Gaza war has changed everything: The norms of war are being rewritten in real-time” in Unherd is simultaneously more detailed yet more humble.

Much of what’s happened since October 7 is without any real precedent … we are deep into the unknown, and were there long before this past week. The sides have notched accomplishments that are both novel and gruesome enough to demand real analytic humility…

I just used the term “midwit” in a post, I’m pretty sure for the first time, but some tendril of editorial integrity made me look it up and it is discomfiting. One nice definition:

An internet term that ironically, is something only an actual midwit would try to use on in the internet to look vErY sMaRt.

Yes — there should be a term for a derogatory term the very use of which classifies you as an instance of it. At any rate, since I had to hold back from using it myself, I am inclined to think I am indeed a midwit, or if not one, only slightly not one.

Someone who is around average intelligence but is so opinionated and full of themselves that they think they’re some kind of genius.

And:

Generally found in the 105-120 IQ range. These are the people who are considered “gifted” in primary school and perhaps “honors” in high school.

I notice myself trying to think but cannot; I can merely react.

Jonathan Freedman, a Jewish columnist for The Guardian, which in itself tells a tale, pens a column “In this shadow war between Iran and Israel, the outline of a different future is visible”. I can understand Palestinians’ disgusting murderous thuggery better than I can understand such sickly magpies within the nest. And he may not even be wrong in his conclusions! It’s the myriad of little things that bug me, the Olympian chin-rubbing despite being Jewish himself. First, the subtitle, which perhaps he didn’t write, but nonetheless reflects his conclusion:

Both seem keen to limit hostilities, and key Arab states are ready to resist Tehran. But real change will require new Israeli leadership

Israel is required to change its government! (No need for any change in Iran.)

It doesn’t help that the leaderships in both Iran and Israel are under constant pressure from elements that are even more bellicose.

Some insane and insulting parallels are being drawn here.

The hitherto crypto-alliance of Israel and those Sunni states that fear Tehran more than they fear Tel Aviv has stepped into the light.

Fear Tel Aviv? Firstly, that’s Jerusalem to you bub, though given that The Guardian is a British publication, which still shamefully does not recognize Israel as Jerusalem’s capital — I mean Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — no doubt “Tel Aviv” is editorial policy, but you are complicit in this policy, your name is in the byline. Secondly: fear? Hate I would say is more accurate; the Arabs never feared that Israel was going to invade or overthrow them.

Israel would have to do what the US and others are asking: offer the Palestinians a political horizon, one that holds out the prospect of an eventual Palestinian state.

Which others are these? Westerners project their desire for a Palestinian state onto Middle Easterners, who only pay lip service to this notion, because they are close enough to know that Palestinians are part of the problem not the solution. Resolving to being just like the Ayatollahs where it matters, Palestinians’ modus operandi is mass murder and the destabilization and overthrow of any polity they can, so that responsible Middle Easterners prefer to see them contained not empowered.

Normally I would just skip over such pap as this, especially if in The Guardian, which I only look at occasionally for movie reviews and design inspiration. But Israel’s Channel 12 hosts the Unholy podcast with Freedland to which people I know listen to devotedly, and who know him personally slightly as he sends his kids to the same Jewish school in northwest London. Why oh why does he not know better.

Wednesday, April 24th, 2024

Every paragraph with its little bombshell: Edward Luttwak is in full elegant force in “Iran is weaker than we think” in Unherd. The opening paragraph:

It is only now, almost 16 years since Obama first entered the White House with the private determination to end Iran’s “death to America” hostility at all costs, that his Iran policy has achieved the exact opposite of what he had wanted: direct warfare, with US fighters intercepting Iran’s bombardment drones. All along, it was a policy that had two different faces: one perfectly reasonable, and the other perfectly delusional.

Such casual rhythm before the zing at paragraph’s end! Later we get a Luttwakian paradox of strategy:

The [Iranian] Revolutionary Guards finally failed strategically because their Arab recruitment policy was so successful that it overshot the culminating point of success: seeing the historic Sunni capital of Damascus under Shia domination, and Baghdad the very seat of the Sunni Arab Caliphate ruled by Iran’s agents, Sunni Arab states from Morocco to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which had repeatedly fought Israel from 1948, moved to abandon their hostility, openly or discreetly.

And we end with striking, real-world evidence that demonstrates the strategic theories posited within. I won’t quote this evidence so as not to spoil the end of this masterful op-ed.

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

Monday, April 22nd, 2024

In The Wall Street Journal, this geopolitical news article on Finland is the first one I can recall reading anywhere. Swimming into focus are renewed tensions with the new Russia. Th

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Finland has ramped up its military spending, boosting its defense budget to above 2% and snapping up U.S. rocket systems, as well as Israeli antitank and air-defense systems. The country is preparing to base F-35 jet fighters it will receive from the U.S. just over 100 miles from its border with Russia.

I wish for Finland and Israel to explore each other much more.

Sunday, April 21st, 2024

War and warming. What are the chances this bonkers piece is a hoax designed to embarrass its publisher The Nation. People took time and effort to ensure it is written in full sentences and well copy-edited.

Friday, April 19th, 2024

Great lengthy interview with Giora Eiland, always with cogent orthogonal ideas on important Israeli geopolitical realities.

The Israeli story was, Hamas is like ISIS, and ISIS is like Hamas. No! That’s not the case. ISIS was a bunch of crazies from Baghdad who, unopposed, gained control of western Iraq and those who lived there. But it didn’t represent the people, not in Mosul or elsewhere. Gaza more resembles 1930s Germany, where an extremist party won elections, with the support of most of the people, and quickly unified the military and civil government into one entity. What happened on October 7 is that the State of Gaza went to war against the State of Israel. State against state. Now, the state of Gaza does have vulnerabilities. It doesn’t have sufficient fuel, food and water of its own. You can impose a legitimate boycott on that state until the state returns all of your hostages. Humanitarian for humanitarian.

I’m not sure whether to be disappointed or relieved that Eiland is granted the levers of power.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Cool, calm, collected, and with casually brilliant staging. IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi provides the official Israeli miltary speech in response to the massive Iranian missile attack.

Amidst all this it’s a happy thought that Germany sold Israel a doomsday device (Dolphin subs) and a couple of decades later Israel is selling Germany an anti-doomsday device. Ben-Gurion and Adenhauer.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

OK I need to stop reading the news, but one more, this diatribe in Arutz7:

To me, the word “State” has demeaning connotations in the English speaking world. What other country on this planet is referred to and refers to itself as the State of…….? To be referred to as a “State” implies a not quite equal status with other nations, implying some benevolent authority has graciously bestowed a degree of autonomy to Israel. It is time that Israelis and Diaspora Jews refer to Israel as Israel, period.

I see no need to take issue with the term “state”; we are in good company with the United States of America. Like them we explicitly acknowledge the legalistic framework within which the American and Israeli peoples live at liberty. There may even be some positive connotations; we live now in a state of Israel, as opposed to the previous state. At any rate, many nationstates have political prefixes that are ignored and shortened to their national names: République française is just France, for example, and the State of Israel is usually referred to as just Israel.

Giora Eiland’s commentary on Channel 12 last night warranted its own story this morning on Arutz7, with him arguing that the response to Iran’s attack should be to focus on Lebanon.

Israel does not need to attack in Iran. There is no reason for it, and it has the potential to become complicated militarily, as well as regionally and with all of our friends – and the achievement will not be significant, regardless. If you want to put Iranians in their place and maybe even test them – there are two other arenas: One is in Syria.

There is merit here, though I think his suggested mechanism, to announce Israel’s return to the North for the school year, is fatuous. Both the low- and the high-level attacks from Hamas and Iran respectively point to a response aginst the mid-level main threat from Lebanon. Even if it doesn’t happen visibly — Bibi’s response seems to be to keep things simple and retaliate against actual perpetrators — it does feel like the appropriate true focus.

Kudos to Britain’s Daily Mail for publishing the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ piece “Why Israel’s failure to strike back at Iran could lead to NUCLEAR WAR by FDD’s chief exec Mark Dubowitz and senior fellow Jacob Nagel.

Israel was acting well within the rules of its dangerous neighborhood by taking out [Mohammad Reza Zahedi, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon]. But the Ayatollah responded with a potentially catastrophic barrage on Israeli civilians, military bases and government facilities. If Iran walks away from this moment without paying a severe price, Tehran may be emboldened to deploy its weapons again. And the next time, these drones and missiles may be armed with nuclear or chemical payloads.

Their conclusion is indisputable and anything else is either appeasement or overthinking.

Monday, April 15th, 2024

Wonderful piece in Commentary by Seth Cropsey (I jumped to the family name and he is indeed the son of University of Chicago scion Joseph Cropsey) ““American Strategy on the Brink” that really gets to the heart of the matter”: The United States is shirking its responsibilities on the world stage:

All three instances of ongoing violence [Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan] stem fundamentally from a crisis in American power. These theaters are afire because Washington refuses to recognize what it is—the center of a loosely democratic system that spans Eurasia and the Americas. Culturally and strategically, the Rimland is being punished for the blindness at its core.

From “Israel’s Splendid Isolation” by John Podhoretz in Commentary:

Jews literally did not have the means or the ability to defend themselves for more than two millennia. Now we do. And when we do, we become unnerving. The very phrase “Jewish army” was, since 70 C.E.., the definition of an oxymoron. Now it conjures up something powerful, and the fact that it’s powerful at all means for many that it’s far too powerful. When Israel acts in its own defense, it alienates these people and these nations. And thereby “isolates” itself.

I can say it with confidence: I love you jpod.

Writing brief essays now on X, Victor Davis Hanson lists Ten Ways to Guarantee a Theater-wide War:

Vapid “Don’t!” … Abruptly pull out of Afghanistan … Chinese spy balloon … [okay a] “minor” invasion [of Ukraine] … Seem eager to resume the Iran Deal …

Etc.

Monday, April 8th, 2024

This Dearborn crowd musters up a “Death to America” chant (though the speaker to his credit doesn’t say it). Stupid fucks.

Rice cultures around the world do tend to exhibit similar cultural characteristics, including less focus on self, more relational or holistic thinking and greater in-group favoritism than wheat cultures.

The last time I came across this sort of diet-based sociology was in Nietzsche, where it struck me as both significant and true while feeling outlandish and ridiculous when repeated. So it’s nice to see it treated academically. Here’s one bit in Nietzsche, Aphorism #134 in La Gaya Scienza (he probably mentions it elsewhere too):

Pessimists as Victims. When a profound dislike of existence gets the upper hand, the after-effect of a great error in diet of which a people has been long guilty comes to light. The spread of Buddhism (not its origin) is thus to a considerable extent dependent on the excessive and almost exclusive rice-fare of the Indians, and on the universal enervation that results therefrom.

I enjoyed this very nice primer on editing by Eva Parish. Of her 9 recommendations, the one I fall down on most in my own occasional scribblings is “Be aware of your tone”, which is actually quite an expansive, non-technical problem. I guess I try to mix up the high and low due to insecurity that I’m a bore and aim to jolt and amuse the reader awake — but Eva argues that the mix is confusing and distracting.

I think however she is wrong to restore commas after prefixing subordinate clauses. Her examples:

Example: If you’re looking for me I’ll be in my office.
Revision: If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in my office.
Example: Due to the fog our flight was delayed.
Revision: Due to the fog, our flight was delayed.

My take instead: if the sentence is unambiguous without the comma then lean towards omitting it. Especially with the second example, with the clause being only four syllables long, the comma slows down the reader so much that the music of the sentence is broken. “Fog our flight” cannot be misinterpreted — nobody thinks of fogging a flight. Indeed the lack of a comma foretells to the reader they can confidently plow ahead through a well-tended sentence.

Her admonition to avoid the vague “this” — is new to me or else I’d forgotten it from The Little Red Schoolhouse, even though it fits very much into the Schoolhouse’s insistence of chaining sentences together nicely, and I will keep it in mind.

Via Hacker News, this Chrome for Developers post dives into browser colors beyond RGB.

Saturday, April 6th, 2024

He’s very good, is Brendan O’Neill, and I’m glad The Spectator is publishing him. “The Truth About Friendly Fire”:

Across social media, the cry goes up: Israel did this on purpose. It seems Israel is the only state not allowed to make mistakes. Where us decent Westerners kill friends in error, Israel does it intentionally, with malice at its heart.

Who would have thought this would be published in such a well-known British magazine. There is hope.

It seems that some in the West are seeking to launder their reputations through attacking Israel. From Cameron to Biden, powerful men who have been involved in wars far more horrific and far less justified than Israel’s war on Hamas, are now pontificating against the Jewish State.

But their finger-wagging attempt at rehabilitating their own reputations by slighting others’ — and hang the risk even unto civilization itself — does burnish at least one aspect of their respective reputations, ie being a sleazeball.

Thursday, April 4th, 2024

How gratifying, the plethora of common-sense comments reacting to this rather less-than-sensible Telegraph story “How international law could force Britain to stop arms sales to Israel” which furthers the tradition of latching on to that weird and mealy-mouthed “plausible” ruling by the ICJ.

Was this the Court’s intent, to say something with plausible deniability so that the very many people who want it to have said a thing can act as if it did? I in turn am latching on to that possibility to accuse it all of being quite transparent, truly despicable, and dangerously corrosive.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

In Mosaic Magazine, a sweeping history of Israel v. Lebanon by Raphael BenLevi.

Israel’s geography currently provides it with reasonably defensible borders on three sides: the Mediterranean to the west, the Sinai Desert to the south, and the Jordan Valley to the east. Israel’s northern border, however, is not defined by a sea, a vast desert, or even a major river. Rather it is a man-made line that cuts through mountains, valleys, farms, and forests. This has been the case since antiquity, making the northern border of ancient Israel the hardest to defend.

The article mirrors one that I linked to from exactly three months ago on Gaza by Jean-Pierre Filiu in Foreign Affairs.

We all know that if these tattooed trustafarians who think men can breastfeed went anywhere near Gaza their pronouns would be was / were quicker than you could say ‘Free Palestine!’.

Brendan O’Neill, “The unbearable sanctimony of the ‘pro-Palestine’ set”

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024

In an interview with Israeli radio station 103fm, Yarden Pivko, daughter of Hamas hostage Itzik Gelertner, denounces the Kaplanistas hijacking the hostage crisis. Kudos to 103fm for airing this despite their and all media-luvvy institutional sympathy for Kaplanism.

Sunday, March 31st, 2024

Good ep of Mike Doran and Gadi Taub’s allcaps ISRAEL UPDATE podcast “Is the US Stabbing Israel in the Back?”

It’s in The Guardian so you know what’s coming in this restaurant review of Freddie’s, a New York-style non-kosher Jewish deli, plus they telegraph it in the title, so that in falling for the clickbait I skip the whole salt-beef bit to the predictable meat of the thing:

For all my lack of faith or observance these dishes, kept alive by a vestigial memory of the shtetl, root me. Then I hesitated. Could I really write about a Jewish restaurant given the current political turmoil? Would I get abuse for doing so? Surely better to keep shtum. At which point I knew I had no choice: I had to write about it. The horrendous campaign of the government and armed forces of Israel in Gaza cannot be allowed to make being Jewish a source of shame. When Hamas mounted their 7 October attack on Israel, they committed both an atrocity and a provocation. With so many hostages taken, there were no good options for the Israeli government. Nevertheless, they managed to choose the very worst one. They have killed thousands, starved many more, destroyed homes and turned their country into a pariah. As it happens, they have also made life for Jews who live outside Israel and have no responsibility for the decisions its government takes, so very much harder. I deplore what Israel is doing. But that doesn’t mean I can “refute” my Jewishness. That is a surrender to antisemitism. And so I sit here with my terrific salt beef sandwich and my chocolate mousse, indulging that bit of my Jewish identity which makes sense to me. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.

As a British Israeli my reaction to this sort of thing is always a multi-level “ugh”. But having returned recently to my native Glasgow for a Jewish funeral, I was reminded of what I would likely have been if my parents hadn’t made Aliyah to Israel when I was a child — and moreover since I have now lived in the UK again for a long time is arguably what I have reverted back to being. (Noooooo!)

Nonetheless it’s hard for me to feel anything but contempt for people who stroke the tiger in the hope it will eat them last.

And yet I must understand that as people who are primarily Britons their prism is the BBC, and as right-thinking people it’s likely The Guardian and its ilk, so this is what they may actually believe. But is the reviewer truly speaking in good faith? He says Israel chose the very worst course of action but does not articulate what other better ones might have been. Write a very stroppy letter?

Also, if a sandwich is the extent of his Jewish identity, he’d probably do better shucking it off altogether and embracing something else more all-encompassingly. I don’t mean that disparagingly, but men are meaning machines and if he’s not getting much out of Judaism then it is occupying a space in his soul that could perhaps otherwise be more fruitfully filled.

Levantine Israel is such a monumental and cosmic gift — especially for the rain-soaked British Jew who must otherwise seek any anthropological depth in Druidism and sun in other countries such as Spain (a pretty fabulous alternative it’s true). So I think it is folly for a British Jew to not embrace that mainline connection to Israel; Britons have a passion for the Middle East and now Jewish Britons have their own ancient piece of it again.

But that is all very well when it was done for you as a child or if you are wealthy enough to maintain an additional home and travel frequently. But for most of us, as I was reminded at the funeral, we grow up and get up and go to work, lifelong dalliances with distant exotic countries way beyond reach. And even for those who have the means to have additional homes, the center of gravity of their psyche and viewpoint is British. I need to understand that about British Jews who did not make Aliyah, which is most of them.

On one hand, I can see how the current war unites Jews in their fate, while on the other I can see how the cleavage in the West between appeasement and struggle runs right down the middle of Diaspora Jewry.

 
 

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