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Briefs

Friday, January 1st, 2021

Friday, December 25th, 2020

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

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Now Morocco!

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

“Because the Republic is at stake”: David Goldman for Trump. Allow me to also attest: as president, Donald Trump has passed George Gilder’s Israel test with colors so stratospheric it almost makes one cynical about cynicism.

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.

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…

Monday, August 31st, 2020

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.

Sunday, August 16th, 2020

“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

“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

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

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.

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

INSS responds to the Deal of the Century — they don’t like it, believing it to create more trouble than it solves. Instead they push for their own Strategic Framework for the Israeli-Palestinian Arena.

I think though they take this thing too seriously; surely it was only meant as a reframing, a shot across the bow to Palestinians that they better come to the table because the narrative they’ve constructed may not always be there.

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations

Pico Iyer

♦♦♦

Written aphoristically, long-time Kyoto resident travel writer Pico Iyer provided me with a new view of a major people: that the Japanese exemplify Oscar Wilde’s catechism that style is substance, surface depth. One telling anecdote from his pal the Dalai Lama: when speaking to Western audiences, they perk up at the philosophy and tune out for the rituals; with the Japanese it’s the opposite. There are many more such reflections. One reviewer says the book is profound, and I guess that is the case, yes.

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Succession as comedy. Obvious, given its producers, but still, nicely written.

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Meir Kraus, a fellow at the research center at the Shalom Hartman Institute, sets out challenges, lessons, options and insights for a balanced and feasible option on Jerusalem as part of a wider solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Monday, October 7th, 2019

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Erdoğan’s Turkey, once again neither winning friends nor influencing people, this time trying it on around the Eastern Med gas fields.

Monday, September 16th, 2019

George Friedman is impressed by Iran’s recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, which “imposed a price on the Saudis for their alliance structure that, if it continues, they cannot pay. The attack also drove home to U.S. allies that their interest and the United States’ interest on oil diverge.” Yes but conversely while they lash out violently and the US responds only economically, they appear increasingly desperate, a not-good look with real-world consequences.

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

Israel should finally be a part of CentCom, Caroline Glick argues. “A future [increasingly hostile to Israel] Democratic president faced with a reality in which Israeli officials cooperate openly with their Sunni Arab counterparts under the aegis of the US Central Command, and in which Israel serves as a key partner in the development of offensive and defensive systems that are critical to the US, will not rush to abandon the US alliance with Israel.”

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Recordings of Reagan on the phone with foreign leaders — Thatcher, Assad, Begin. Very cool [from 2014].

What a dreamteam of Übermenschen now leading my three countries: Trump, BoJo and Bibi. Not since Reagan, Thatcher and Begin have we seen the like. It demonstrates that these societies still function in that the leader is found.

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Friday, April 19th, 2019

Monday, December 31st, 2018

How great to see some persuasive pundit prophecy: At the Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Jordan-born translator Abe Haak argues that the Palestinian Authority’s collapse is coming and in the ensuing violent anarchy Palestinians will rush to safe haven with friends in family in Jordan — and soon enough Jordan will instead come to them.

A Jordanian return to the population centers of the West Bank may seem merely wishful thinking, though it does seem to me the most likely long-term scenario (though perhaps will remain so indefinitely). By holding Area C and being patient for two generations Israel will have widened its narrow waist to a more defensible size without having to swallow a couple of million hostile people; shame Israel and Jordan couldn’t have come to such an arrangement during the aftermath of the Six Day War.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

“Shouting ‘Peace, peace’ may actually push peace away,” argues game theorist and Nobel Economics laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann, New York-born head of the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at Hebrew University.

This is just about common sense — by that I mean it’s only a single twist of what Edward Luttwak calls the paradoxical logic of strategy. Yet perhaps there are further twists; I suggested one back in 2003 in “Allah Help the Jackals”:

Perhaps Israel is following a subconscious national strategy of the strong, in which it behaves too meekly for a decade or so, emboldens its vicious but feeble enemies until they go too far, then lashes out in a now-obviously-justifiable response and gains untold assets in the process.

Not to mention that the more time goes by, the more Israel strengthens and the Palestinians weaken.

This subconscious national strategy of delay by dint of wanting too hard, if it ever were effective, seems to have played itself out now, as demonstrated by Israel’s shift of focus towards undermining UNWRA, which plays such an underlying role in prolonging the conflict.

What with the Sunni warming to Israel and the supremely sympathetic Trump Administration, Israel it seems believes that allowing the conflict to fester for gradual gain has now become counterproductive, and so seeks a new path to end it.

All that notwithstanding, nothing ends until the Palestinians begin educating their children towards co-existence alongside Israel.

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Prince William will make the first ever official tour of Israel by a member of the British royal family (Jordan first though).

I think this is quite a big deal; Britain has complicated feelings towards Israel — to wit, the country’s non-appearance to date in 25 James Bond movies.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

In the wake of America’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, an Israel-Iran war is unlikely but still…

Friday, April 27th, 2018

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un enters South Korea for a summit with President Moon Jae-in. They jointly plant a tree and sign a friendly declaration.

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Two pieces that capture the current state of play in the tinderbox that is Syria: “The Extraordinarily High Stakes in Syria” by Noah Rothman in Commentary (whom I usually find hard to read for some reason); and “How Putin’s Folly Could Lead to a Middle East War” by Jonathan Schanzer in Politico.

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn interviews Avi Gil, senior aide to Shimon Peres on his forthcoming book, The Peres Formula: Diary of a Confidant.

Gil: “Peres is a bitchonist. He sees first and foremost Israel’s interest, its existence, its survival. In terms of his life mission, to which he gave expression in no few conversations, he saw two mileposts: Dimona and Oslo.”

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Michael Rubin at aei.org: Yes, Turkey has definitely become a rogue regime.

From my brief travels I came across the standard blue/red divide, but it’s more virulent in Turkey due to the revolutionary power of the local religion.

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

In the wake of the White House conference on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which the Palestinians did not attend, Noah Feldman masterfully lays out the land regarding Jared Kushner’s diplomatic push between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Noah on Abbas’s leverage: “In the end, the Arab states can’t actually sign a peace agreement without a Palestinian state signing it, too.”

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

On February 19th, Israeli natural gas companies announced a $15b contract with Egypt. These interlocking infrastructure interests enmesh Israel with her neighbors and provide for further possibilities.

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Everything for the ride, the game, the thrill, perhaps the rugs. Paul Manafort, American Hustler in The Atlantic.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

Watching Mike Pence’s speech to the Knesset [transcript and video at Haaretz], Prime Minister Netanyahu can’t jump to his feet fast enough.

The US Vice President draws parallels between America’s and Israel’s stories. He sets a 2019 deadline for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. And he recites Shehechianu in Hebrew.

This historic speech furthers the momentum of the new American way in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To paraphrase the Grateful Dead: More than this I will not ask.

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

The next step in the Trump shibboleth-marauding strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal appears to have just happened: The President has threatened the Palestinians with withholding aid if they continue to refuse to come to the negotiating table.

These were merely tweets, a new lower level of presidential statement, but nonetheless they’re another demonstration to the Palestinians that they do in fact have things to lose by maintaining the conflict indefinitely. It seems a softening up before negotiations begin so that this time they will finally actually end with a deal.

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

In Mosaic, Martin Kramer tells the tale, set over lunch in Ein Kerem, of the closest Jerusalem ever got to internationalization. (At one point I found the internationalization of Jerusalem a heady and exciting notion—providing of course that the UN move its HQ there.) A most vivid history op-ed piece.

Monday, December 18th, 2017

This investigative piece by Josh Meyer in Politico depicts a DEA investigation into global Hezballah criminal activity undercut by an Obama Administration hell-bent on a deal with Iran.

Monday, December 11th, 2017

There has never been a West European post-Second World War policy in [the Middle East] except to await the American position and then stake out something more favourable to the Arabs.

Conrad Black, “The Palestinians should take what they can get while they can”

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

On the eve of US recognition of Israel’s capital, very much in-the-loop Ambassador Ron Dermer speaks (three paragraphs at a time!) to the Global Politico podcast.

Monday, September 25th, 2017

Yes, yes, yes — another nice one by Evelyn Gordon. Unusually, Trump’s UN speech did not even mention the Palestinians. The omission is the first diplomatic suggestion to them that they may have something to lose by intransigence. To date, the only policy I can think of that has served this purpose is settlements.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

InspireConversation is the parenting blog of, together with his wife, Jason Greenblatt. He is the presidential envoy who accompanied Israel’s Head of Security Services to Jordan to defuse the recent Israeli embassy crisis there.

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Efraim Inbar provides the background to the hugely significant first-time-ever visit to Israel by an Indian Prime Minister.

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

Scimitar

Peter Niesewand

♦♦

In a bookstore this thriller paperback jumped out at me due to its familiarity; I had read it or author Peter Niesewand’s previous thriller Fallback decades ago as an early teenager and remembered it positively.

It’s Americans versus Russians towards the end of the Cold War, and disarmament talks are going on, but the Soviets have been cheating and using secret weapons in Afghanistan. Turns out this author did indeed spend time in Afghanistan, hence the persuasive veracity of the book’s second half. He was a white Rhodesian, a political prisoner, who became a rather glamorous and celebrated foreign correspondent for The Guardian. Sadly he died at the very young age of 39 — Wikipedia says from a disease he contracted in Afghanistan.

It’s fun to read this sort of thing once in a while, even if the protagonists are a bit plasticky. The passage of time arguably gives it more value, as it captures the concerns and conflicts of a particular period.

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The Dispensability of Allies by George Friedman — probably the only required reading on President Trump’s upcoming visit to the Middle East, even if it is rather dismal.

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Albeit behind Iran, Israel squeaks onto Walter Russell Mead’s list of the Great Eight Powers of 2017. It’s amazing that only one European country makes it here.

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

Good point, yes. If under Trump it’s between the symbol of a U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem or the reality of continued building throughout the city—as it may well come down to—then the choice is clear, writes Nadav Shragai.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

The world’s most (only?) prescient columnist takes a step back to show us where Russia and China are similar and different to America. This article is one for these new times, to be sure.

index topics diplomacy diplomacy

Arab Insanity Eroding

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

Denver Met

My intent here is not only to participate in a conference but to suck up myriad Americana as a thirsty exile catapulted back in for a primer.

Yes

It’s a Somewhat Rauschenberg World

I don’t like this use of animals, like Damien Hirst’s. The artist could not have asked the goat for permission so should not have assumed it was granted.

Black Tracks the Presidents

The great virtue of Conrad Black’s Flight of the Eagle is its steady track across the entirety of the nation’s history, treating each president equally under its own law and order.

Homepage Design 2016

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)

Saturday, May 8th, 2021

Sometimes a cool story is strong enough to override my current aversion to The New York Times, and this interactive piece about Oval Office art qualifies.

This Dutch fellow tracked the mailing of an AirTag to his own home. It travelled 120km just go to 500m. Next he’s going to send one to Norway.

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Top 20 racing cheats by Preston Lerner at Hagerty A reminder that rules are made to be… stretched?

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

A bit mindblowing: put the browser itself in the cloud: Mighty [Hacker News discussion].

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

(The irritatingly insouciant) Lionel Shriver notes that there will likely be unpleasant geopolitical consequences to wokeness in that Western civilization’s illiberal adversaries will interpret the bewailing self-castigation coming from American and British elites as evidence of actual decline — correctly or not (though I suspect correctly).

From the banned books department (the author’s When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment cannot be found on Amazon), on the battiness of trans ideology.

I came to this article after seeing the phrase “gender assigned at birth” on my child’s school acceptance form and googled for when “assigned” became the de facto usage even here in the seemingly more sensible UK instead of, say, “registered”.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

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 22nd, 2021

Some smarmy vituperative resentiment re Silicon Valley bloggers in The Baffler.

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

Since the 1990s I’d had a mild hankering for the Mazda MX-5, and it seems I’m not alone, and it’s still selling well. The Telegraph compares some low-cost Miata competitors, including the Audi TT and Mini Cooper.

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

If you want to feel like Western society is convulsing, there’s an app for that.

Ross Douthat, The Decadent Society

Craig Mod reveals the consolations of we the web-literate as he tinkers with his servers. Plus the man walks and writes rather well and is probably tall to boot.

Monday, April 12th, 2021

OK I haven’t actually read this yet but really honestly intend to. Via Robin Rendle on CSS Tricks via Jim Nielsen’s Blog, A Complete Guide To Accessible Front-End Components by Vitaly Friedman in Smashing Magazine.

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

With this panegyric to airport culture, Eva Wiseman riffs on a Vice story about young Britons going to the airport to get (earthly) high and hang out. As a Briton I find this awesome, even while as an Israeli I find it a bit pitiful (ie, just go to the beach!).

Friday, April 9th, 2021

Israel’s INSS thinktank believes it’s time to more firmly oppose Assad’s Syria. Israel’s mostly hands-off approach towards this horrendous conflict on her borders may well go down in history as the main stain on Netanyahu’s record. Yet if Israel could have tipped the scales of civil war at some point to get rid of Assad, would things have been any better? We know from other interventions, eg Libya, the vacuum and chaos that would most likely have ensued. Very hard.

Thursday, April 8th, 2021

Tucker Carlson speaks truth to the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities and the corporations following in its woke wake. His example of airline pilots, as provided by United, is just too easy.

Apple’s new Find My service for 3rd-party products seems very cool. It leverages all the installed Apple devices around the world, kind of like a land-based GPS.

Wix is a tawdry Israeli success story. Wix’s dirty trix (by Matt Mullenweg, to be fair, the creator of WordPress).

Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

China bails out Iran with $400b deal as part of a Turkish-Iranian-Pakistani alliance, explains house favorite David P. Goldman.

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

In 10 parts, John McWhorter’s very necessary The Elect: The Threat to a Progressive American from Anti-Black Antiracists.

It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.

Paul Graham, The Top Idea in Your Mind

Content is information you don’t need.

Paul Graham, Post-Medium Publishing

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

In his Telegraph column, the invaluable Ambrose Evans-Pritchard lays it out that the UK has actually handled Covid pretty well:

We can see in hindsight that the UK began the war on Covid much as it has begun almost every major war over recent centuries: half asleep, in utter shambles, with obsolete contingency plans. The first wave had echoes of the Norway campaign in 1940, or the great retreat of the British Expeditionary Force in August 1914. It always seems to take time for Britons to pull themselves together. Ultimately they do. By the end of the First World War, the British armed forces were arguably the best-run logistical machine on the planet.

Monday, March 29th, 2021

Strong medicine, this, and brave of Tablet to publish it. Dubbing deplorables as The Smiths, Angelo M. Codevilla beseeches regular Americans to simply disengage from the new American oligarchy.

And in the same publication, a transcription of an interview with the caustic political philosopher, The Codevilla Tapes.

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s effect on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.

Paul Krugman

Monday, March 8th, 2021

Cool — 10 upcoming skyscrapers. Interestingly, most of them seem to be in Toronto. I love the Zaha Hadid one, if that ever gets built.

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Cal Newport takes on GTD in the run-up to his new book against email as the world’s abysmal task management system.

The piece does start like a Tad Friend-esque hatchet job on Merlin Mann but that’s just a way to appeal to your squalid New Yorker reader.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Andy Bell outlines new CSS functionality in Smashing Magazine.

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Howard Oakley provides this survey of paintings of trains.

Echolalia

Meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder

The politicians are engaged in endless echolalia. The governor here (cum-Secretary of Commerce) actually had the chutzpah to say, “I know you’re all unhappy with the speed of vaccination, but our strategy is working.”

Alan Weiss

Friday, February 5th, 2021

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

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Like Anna Karenina’s brother, it’s not that the United States media has a bad memory, rather it has acquired an excellent forgettery. Victor Davis Hanson remembers nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

A survey of American research on minimum wage by David Neumark & Peter Shirley at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

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

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

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

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

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

Saturday, January 9th, 2021

A great grounds-eye view of the upset in Washington DC, “What I Saw at the Capitol Riot” by Declan Leary in The American Conservative.

To my left I hear “We don’t need Gitmo,” and I’m not quite sure what’s meant by it. From the same general area comes “I’ll donate a vaccination—.223 hollow point.” A little less ambiguous. Somebody with a megaphone is in the middle of a speech: “If you stand for nothing, you gotta stand for something.” Close enough. A young woman with a bullhorn of her own lets out a lone motherfucker. An older man looks at me with a smile and asks if she kisses her mother with that mouth. A few seconds later the same voice drones at nobody in particular: Pussy, pussyyyyy, pussy, pusssaaaaaaayyyyyy.

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

From the CDC, US vaccination numbers. So far the state that’s done best is South Dakota at 3%.

Friday, January 1st, 2021

Cute, if harrowing: the no-longer economically viable Simpsons household, a piece in The Atlantic by Dani Alexis Ryskamp.

Friday, December 25th, 2020

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

Thursday, December 24th, 2020

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

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

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

Monday, December 21st, 2020

High Output Management

Andrew S. Grove

♦♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 

•••

Newsroll

A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute, edited by Brian C. Anderson.

  • America’s Post-Pandemic Geography

    Covid-19 is transforming all types of communities, from big cities to suburbs to rural areas.
  • Always Be Founding

    Projects to “renew” civic education and “reinvent” U.S. democracy smuggle in a rejection of the American Founding.
  • Dear Landlord

    Courts are reining in the CDC’s ill-conceived ban on residential evictions.
  • The Wokest Place on Earth

    Disney mounts an internal campaign against “white privilege” and organizes racially segregated “affinity groups.”
  • Digging Thucydides in Lisbon

    China’s rise has led to pat citations of the Athenian historian, but one must truly study his work to understand it.

experiments in refactored perception

  • Storytelling — The American Tradition

    Adam Gurri pointed me to this 1895 Mark Twain essay, How to Tell a Story, which makes the interesting claim that the humorous story, dependent for its effect on the manner of telling rather than the matter, is an American invention: There are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind–the humorous. I will […]
  • MJD 59,326

    I am considering adopting two rules for projects that I think are very promising for 40+ lifestyles. No new top-level projects (TLPs) (twitter thread) Ten-year commitments to projects or no deal (twitter thread) I don’t mean practically necessary projects like doing something to earn money. I mean non-necessary life projects like writing a blog, or […]
  • MJD 59,323

    Yesterday, I was testing a new bench power supply I just bought. I tested it with a multimeter, then connected it up to a motor, to make it go brrr for fun. It’s the sort of thing I haven’t done since grad school, decades ago. As I was tinkering, I was idly wondering about whether […]