Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Thursday, January 19th, 2023
Monday, January 16th, 2023
Wednesday, January 11th, 2023
genders.wtf is an outstanding use of this thing we call the World Wide Web. It’s nice that it takes a hot divisive topic and makes it genuinely human and funny.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2023
Finally, Congress will pass a resolution expressing solidarity with and support for Iran’s protesters.
Senior Saudis tell an American delegation they are ready for normalization with Israel, but first they want normalization with the United States, writes JINSA’s John Hannah in The Jerusalem Post after the visit.
Saturday, January 7th, 2023
Friday, January 6th, 2023
Thursday, January 5th, 2023
Wednesday, January 4th, 2023
I recommend this tour de force on Israel’s recent election by the excellent Haviv Rettig Gur in The Times of Israel.
[The left and Balad] spoke of Netanyahu’s imminent return to power as a vast danger, but then did everything required to make that outcome more likely.
The Israeli left didn’t collapse in a sudden, recent rightist lurch of the electorate. It has been in a tailspin for three decades. And three decades of failure suggest a simple, unsparing conclusion that hovers over the anxiety about the election results and the patina of moral panic that accompanies it: The left that just collapsed, in terms of raw political strategy, doesn’t deserve to exist.
If the left does not fundamentally redraw the Israeli political map — that is, fundamentally reconceive itself — then Tuesday’s result will be more than a single painful failure. It will be a harbinger of the foreseeable future. It is this reality that drives the “end of the country as we’ve known it” panic.
From here, Rettig Gur starts to build a case for a revived Israeli Left. What a piece!
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023
What a fabulous talk by Chris Coyier on the state of web design and development, “Websites are Good Now” at GatsbyConf [starts at 6:00]. He reviews our new advanced state of affairs in typography, imagery, layout, componentry (a new term to me but yes, that’s how we do it now), animation and hosting.
Thursday, December 29th, 2022
Tuesday, December 20th, 2022
Binyamin Netanyahu is interviewed at wonderful length by, wonderfully, Al-Arabiya. One question he addresses is the maritime agreement that the previous Lapid government made with Lebanon:
Look, my concern is that the revenues that come out of the sea that I think heavily favored Lebanon, do not favor Lebanon. They favor Hezbollah. And Hezbollah has not been a force for peace. So you may just be funding Hezbollah’s military arsenal that could be used not only against Israel, but against many others in the Middle East. You have to think about that very carefully. But that is already done. As I said, I’ll see what I can do to moderate any damage or to secure Israel’s economic and security interests.
Netanyahu articulates what I believe the clear-eyed majority of Israelis saw (and as I posted on October 14th before the election): that having the Yesh Atid camp in power is a burgeoning danger to Israel’s national security due to their willingness to make visibly unfavorable diplomatic deals, which not only are harmful to Israel’s interests in themselves, but signal weakness that invites further depravations.
It’s also interesting to witness Bibi weave in constant complimentary references to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and address their concerns without compromising the Israeli perspective. I know what they say about Netanyahu’s untrustworthiness, but all this reeks of integrity.
That said, it’s clear what he wants to get across: the key word is “reaffirm”, that he’s heading to Washington to argue on Saudi’s behalf.
Thursday, December 15th, 2022
Still got it, USA: Nuclear fusion ignition is achieved December 5th, 2022 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco, CA.
Monday, December 12th, 2022
Saturday, December 3rd, 2022
A History of the Israeli Army
Author Ze’ev Schiff provides a matter-of-fact overview, probably not too different from many other books of Israeli military history, though I did learn that it was probably Arafat who precipitated the Six Day War. The edition I read was published a decade after the first publication, in the midst of the Lebanon War, about which the author is caustic and upset yet manages to end the book on an optimistic note, wishing Lebanon serve at least as a lesson for future non-endeavors.
Friday, December 2nd, 2022
Wednesday, November 30th, 2022
This rather disparaging article on Avatar at DNYUZ is the second time recently (I forget the first) I’ve enjoyed a pretty good longish read only to come across, about 2/3 of the way through, what seems so shoehorned in that it smells like the quiet raison d’etre of the whole piece:
What were the odds that, galaxies away, a society not only had two genders, but those genders were “male” and “female” — and the females were stacked?
Of all the liberties taken with physics and reality with this and other sci-fi tentpole movies, this biologically-grounded mammalian fact of life is the complaint?
You need a grinder to make life delicious.
James Hoffman on coffee
Saturday, November 26th, 2022
Stratechery on Microsoft: So Teams is the new Windows. Ah, as so many movie villains have said, Why won’t you just die?!
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.
Good post and comment thread by Tyler Cowen on the future of London as a city:
… London, which indeed is currently the best city in the world but in a modestly populated country. However this central role for the city makes the UK as a broader nation richer to only a limited degree. So the extreme wonders of London lead to a partial (permanent) atrophy for the rest of the country, which is precisely what we observe.
Tuesday, November 15th, 2022
On researching Prokofiev; Princeton musicologist Simon Morrison uncovers more works by my favorite composer.
The biggest change Prokofiev and his collaborator Sergei Radlov made to Shakespeare’s familiar story was to add a happy ending: Their Juliet wakes up from her potion-induced slumber just as Romeo is reaching the awful conclusion that she is dead. But when Prokofiev presented his score to the Soviet cultural authorities, who had been growing ever more conservative, they balked at the ending. The Shakespeare purists among them did not like the idea of changing the familiar ending. Prokofiev had a logical answer to their objections, saying, “Living people can dance, the dying cannot.” Grasping at ways to preserve the integrity of his vision, he even suggested hanging a red flag outside the theater on nights when the sad ending was to be performed, a green flag when the happy one was planned.
Wednesday, November 9th, 2022
An awed shoutout to Raycast, which I presume the cool kids have been using for years. I had given up finding a contemporary equivalent for SizzlingKeys, a way to control the Apple Music app simply from the keyboard regardless of which app I’m using. With Raycast it’s a breeze to set keyboard hotkeys for many Music app operations, including all the ones I’ve ever thought of using.
Tuesday, October 18th, 2022
A tweetstorm on tagging by Hillel, with issues I’ve been mulling over myself.
Sunday, October 16th, 2022
Friday, October 14th, 2022
Monday, October 10th, 2022
To form an opinion on the wedge of maritime territory wedged between Israeli and Lebanon, some googling revealed:
Saturday, October 8th, 2022
Himars, highly mobile precision missile launchers, is a revolutionary military technology that has changed the balance of war in Ukraine’s favour against Russia.
Friday, October 7th, 2022
Thursday, October 6th, 2022
Jonathan Haidt speaks with Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly on democracy in the next cycle of history and the fragility problem of Gen Z. What a line-up!
Reuel Marc Gerecht is back, now opining fruitfully on the Iranian protests in The Wall Street Journal [subscription required]:
What is most striking about the regime’s response so far is its relative lack of violence … Like all declining dictatorships, the clerical regime has had a failure of imagination—in this case, about how to handle protesting women.
You find some good shit when you search YouTube for reviews by other people who really detest No Time to Die. This is the redoubtable young Batcho.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2022
Tuesday, October 4th, 2022
Some Twitter accounts posting frequent videos of the courageous protests by young women in Iran:
This, it seems to me, is inspiring, world-historical stuff.
As Descarte completed his Discourse on the Method I wonder if he had an inkling it would come to this, from “What Trans Health Care for Minors Really Means” by Tyler Santora at mainstream medical reference website WebMD:
For adolescents who are assigned female at birth, top surgery can be performed to create a flat chest. The Endocrine Society states that there is not enough evidence to set a minimum age for this type of gender-affirming surgery, and the draft of the updated SOC recommends a minimum age of 15. “Usually, for a [person] assigned female at birth, the chest tissue continues to mature until around 14 or 15,” Inwards-Breland says. “What I’ve seen surgeons do is after 14, they feel more comfortable.” If, though, a person is started on puberty blockers followed by hormone therapy from a relatively early age – around 13 – they will never develop breast tissue and wouldn’t need surgery to remove it.
Steve Jobs said: “Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic; it is learned and is the great achievement of Western civilization.” Implicit in his statement is that it can be unlearned. As an intellectually inquisitive teenager in the 1980s I would have scoffed at the notion that religion serves to keep us rational. But the evidence suggests that it does, and without its drumbeat the fever dream of linguistic chimeras can drive us surprisingly mad surprisingly quickly.
Monday, October 3rd, 2022
Sunday, October 2nd, 2022
The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People
Walter Russell Mead
Mearsheimer and Walt — three words that do not appear once in this 1045-page book but are clearly its raison d’etre. John Mearsheimer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago; Stephen Walt is Professor of International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School; together they are the respectable face of American anti-Semitism, reputable enough that Walter Russell Mead seems unwilling to criticize them by name, despicable enough that their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy infuriated our southern-born dean of foreign relations to work on this book for a dozen years or so.
The Wikipedia article on the Lobby book illustrates Mead’s Southern Gentleman approach; whereas Israeli historian Benny Morris says “their work is riddled with shoddiness and defiled by mendacity,” Mead applauds the authors for “admirably and courageously” initiating a conversation on a difficult subject, but more in sorrow than in anger laments that while their intentions are surely strictly honorable, they commit “easily avoidable lapses in judgment and expression.”
Making multiple approaches from multiple angles, Mead demolishes their central notion, giving it the withering moniker of Vulcanist thinking. (Actually I take issue a little with this label, because since the book is so long I forgot the elegant historical anecdote that originates it — a theory of astronomy that attempted to explain celestial workings by means of an undetected planet that doesn’t actually exis. Instead I mentally defaulted to popular culture, where Star Trek’s Vulcan is a stand-in for excessive logic — a characterization quite antithetical to his notion of Vulcanist thinking. This is a shame because the term therefore probably won’t catch on, which it could have perhaps as a shorthand for tendentious yet respectable and therefore ultimately even more ridiculous thinking.)
Especially enriching are his fleshing out of the geopolitical maneouverings among the US, Britain and Russia at the time of Israel’s founding. Important here for Mead’s thesis is that the legend of Truman’s Jewish friend from back in Missouri inveighing on the flummoxed President to recognize Israel be relegated to Queen Esther-echoing myth. For it is WRM’s contention in his chapter “Cyrus Agonistes” that American support for Israel is endemic to the United States, rather than due to the influence of the American Jewish lobby qua Walt and Mearsheimer — moreover it’s despite American Jews, whose leaders have for most of Israel’s history been actively working against a Jewish state, their energies only turning once America as a whole pursued full-throated support for Israel after it became the Middle East’s unambiguous Six Day War strong horse.
It’s also a helpful historical insight that WRM groups 19th century American support for Jewish return to Israel with support for the birth of the Italian and Greek nationstates:
In the ancient world, as Americans saw it, the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews had been much like Americans of the nineteenth century. They were mostly agrarian people, nations of family-owned farms. They had free institutions and their societies were grounded in virtue. But corruption, urbanization, and monarchy had wreaked their ugly work; in time, all three of the ancient peoples fell from their virtue and freedom into slavery, superstition, and oppression.
As the nineteenth century progressed, and the Greek and Italian independence movements advanced, the possibility of a restored Jewish commonwealth also began to gleam on the horizon.
In fact the discussion of nationalism’s birth pangs from the empires of eastern Europe, the chapter entitled “Maelstrom”, is perhaps the richest part of the book.
As a columnist I have been irritated by what I perceive as WRM’s intellectual mealy-mouthedness. But as a full-throated podcast guest I realize this is merely his print persona, a tic I suppose similar to what he probably views as his Straussian icy politeness regarding Mearsheimer and Walt. That said, I took umbrage when in the book he referred to the Second Intifada, a wave of despicable terror attacks against Israel in the wake of the Oslo Agreements, using the BBC-like passive even-handed term: “violence flared”. I instantly recalled eyewitnessing the shellshock in the hours after the Dolphinarium suicide bombing that killed and maimed dozens of partying teenagers. I was only somewhat mollified later in the book when he mentioned this particular bombing by name, without mentioning that the victims were teenagers.
This is a book about America not Israel, and as well as constituting a scathing retort to Mearsheimer and Walt, is a continuation by other means of his 2001 book Special Providence that classifies the various streams of America’s foreign policy; in portraying America’s relationship with Israel, Arc explicates the fullest expression of the Jacksonian stream, a Meadian classification that, unlike Vulcanism, does seem to be sticking.
Wednesday, September 28th, 2022
He of the Cottage Cheese protests, now sitting in the Prime Minister’s chair, finally did it, as Israel applies EU standards for foodstuffs. Lapid’s statement: “The move will lower the cost of living and open the market to competition” — and what a great pic in his office with the Israeli flag and an array of foodstuffs.
Tuesday, September 27th, 2022
The American model appeared to demonstrate that capitalism plus democracy led to mass prosperity and deep social stability.
Walter Russell Mead, The Arc of a Covenant
Sunday, September 25th, 2022
If “the Jews” ran America, immigration would not have been restricted and Israel would likely not exist.
Walter Russell Mead, The Arc of a Covenant (p. 251)