Sunday, April 23rd, 2023
In The Telegraph, A multi-faceted layman’s tour of the differences between the US and UK economies.
Thursday, March 2nd, 2023
It’s over too quickly, these two great alliterative-entitled Americans in conversation, Alan Alda and Kevin Kelly on AA’s Clear+Vivid podcast. Alda has such a gracious voice, and Kelly’s meets it. Kelly introduces some novel standpoints, earning his “world’s most interesting man” Tim Ferris monicker. The impetus and much of the conversation revolves around AI chatbots.
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, October 10th, 2022
To form an opinion on the wedge of maritime territory wedged between Israeli and Lebanon, some googling revealed:
- “Lebanon-Israel maritime border dispute” at Global Security with a nice map
- “Lebanon-Israel maritime border dispute picks up again”, June 16th, 2022 by the Atlantic Council
- “Lebanon’s Maritime Boundaries: Between Economic Opportunities and Military Confrontation” by Daniel Meier at St. Anthony’s College, University of Oxford [pdf]
- “Revealed: Lebanon, Israel considering ‘gas resource swap’ to settle sea border dispute” by William Christou
at The New Arab
- “What’s at stake in the Lebanon-Israel maritime dispute?” by William Christou at The New Arab
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.
Saturday, February 19th, 2022
Following Tyler Cowen’s growing presence of a web-surfing morning, I note that although the elite is Leftist, the most eminent and influential public thinkers are not. As well as TC I’m thinking of Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Niall Ferguson, Elon Musk. Maybe now even Joe Rogan?
Perhaps it’s a question of age; these guys are all Gen Xers more or less, and all would probably have considered themselves socially liberal and economically conservative by the standards of their youth and early adulthood in the 80s and 90s. There is also a large swathe of others in their wake.
Who on the dominant Left has their stature? Paul Krugman? Is it still Noam Chomsky?
Three of the five I mention are or were known first as builders of enterprises, and TC is now getting into that game, as is Ferguson with the new University of Austin.
Thursday, February 3rd, 2022
I’ve been hoping to read a headline like this: “Ministers urge Boris Johnson to rethink net zero plans as cost of living crisis bites” in The Telegraph.
It’s great to be pushing towards renewable energy sources, not because of the climatist calumny but because of the wonderful fact that renewable energy will eventually become a lot cheaper than fossil fuels ever were. As J. Storrs Hall writes in the his transformative Where is My Flying Car, “Counting watts is a better way to measure a people’s standard of living than counting dollars.”
I do understand that sometimes a fire must be lit underneath our collective feet to get things moving, in this case the tarring and feathering of fossil fuels (an unfortunate phrase to be sure). Without this cultural move little might have happened in renewal energy innovation due to the massive interests of energy incumbents.
Meanwhile national leadership’s responsibility is to get this balance right. Deliberately fostering energy poverty is folly, not to mention sadistic — and has real deleterious geopolitical consequences. Nothing is free, especially that seemingly cost-free thing we increasingly swim in, ie, bullshit, rife with opportunity costs. As pleased as people are to wave utopian ideals and do our little bit, we prefer the political party that enables us to heat our homes.
Wednesday, January 26th, 2022
After doing a house-clearing myself, I can relate to Andy Farnell’s Is techno-clutter ruining your life?.
To render the modern productive class (caring and civic professions) harmless, their power under old-left nomenclature as “working-class” had to be destroyed. Their reinvention as “consumers” necessitated apparatus to warehouse and monitor them. Modern bread and circuses manifests as “techno bling” – cheap, attractive and addictive but ultimately detrimental technology like smartphones and social media. Though it pains me to utter words like “chav” (The UK version of “trailer-trash” or “bogans”), nothing says first-world poverty quite like two gold iPhones, one in each jeans pocket.
Thursday, January 13th, 2022
The zero-sum society is a recipe for evil.
J. Storrs Hall, Where is My Flying Car?
Sunday, January 2nd, 2022
Counting watts is a better way to measure a people’s standard of living than counting dollars.
J. Storrs Hall, Where is My Flying Car
Tuesday, December 14th, 2021
Tuesday, November 30th, 2021
All the keyboard-powered culture wars bullhonky is merely a distraction from the world’s most important problem: the impoverishment of the American blue-collar worker. Because without a prosperous American nation, there is no Pax Americana. In Newsweek, Hazmat truck driver Cyrus Tharpe writes:
Our jobs are essential because they are rooted in manufacturing and delivering goods, the underpinning of every major economy on the planet. And unlike politicians, we materially improve the lives of the American people.
And yet, this “essential” job pays a garbage wage. The median annual income for a truck driver in this country is less than $40,000 a year. For many of us, 50 percent of our take-home pay immediately disappears to cover rent.
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021
Apple has disabled its shopping cart in Turkey, the Mac press is reporting, including MacRumors. This could be the mother of Turkish crises, and Turkey is a pivotal enough country that this may affect others. [Update 2021 Nov 30: Sales have been restored at a 25% increase.
David P. Goldman has been writing about a Turkish economic implosion for years — by 2018 he was already examining some consequences.
Tuesday, November 16th, 2021
In American Affairs, my man David P. Goldman argues once again that the United States must step up its basic technological research if it is to avoid losing preeminence to China — and we are all to avoid falling prey to a rather less liberal hegemon. Spengler’s point:
The definitive inventions of late twentieth century technology — laser-powered optical networks, fast and light integrated circuits, and the Internet — all came out of Defense Department projects whose originators could not have foreseen the impact of the new discoveries … All the elements of the modern digital economy — integrated circuits, laser-powered optical networks, sensors, and displays — were invented at the behest of NASA or the Defense Department.
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.
Saturday, October 16th, 2021
David P. Goldman blames the Web technocracy for the end of the American era, comparing it to how Britain lost dominance through the corruption of empire: by eschewing the true wealth creation of manufacturing.
Britain’s best and brightest left Eton and Harrow and went into colonial service, and made fortunes on the sale of British textiles to India, Indian opium to China, and Chinese tea and silks to the West. Britain’s country houses were built on the quick money to be earned from empire, and the British upper class eschewed the dirty work of manufacturing in favor of the faux-aristocracy of the nouveau riche masquerading as landed gentry.
The estimable Goldman is somewhat wrong here I think; web software is much more about conjuring up something from nothing, albeit an intangible digitized something, than it is just shunting stuff around at gunpoint, as he says late-Empire Britain did.
Thursday, September 30th, 2021
Sometimes you come across an essay you intended to write and somebody’s more or less done it for you, in this case an attempt to philosophize on the concept of work by Jonathan Malesic in the University of Virginia’s Hedgehog Review.
A few nights ago I considered for the first time the direct semantic connection between the troublesome English term “happy” and the less fraught “happening”; happily, there seems to be a connection between them that’s not mere happenstance. And here this essay begins to explicate that thought:
The Crow [a Native American tribe who live on the northern plains] built their culture around hunting buffalo and “counting coups”—an activity that encompasses both feats of bravery in war and recitations of stories about those feats. Once white settlers killed off the buffalo and placed the Crow under the US government’s jurisdiction in the 1880s, the basis for Crow culture was gone. “After this nothing happened,” the Crow chief Plenty Coups told a white historian decades later.
Sunday, September 26th, 2021
The ruling class’s campaign regarding public health, global warming, race, the rights of women, homosexuals, micro-aggressions, the Palestinians, etc. etc. have far less to do with any of these matters than with seizing ever more power for itself.
Angelo Codevilla, “The Covid Coup”
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.
Wednesday, July 7th, 2021
“China-US Relations In The Eyes Of The Chinese Communist Party: An Insider’s Perspective” [PDF] by Cai Xia at the Hoover Institution, June 2021 (via Ambrose Evans-Pritchard).
Since the 1970s, the two political parties in the United States and the US government have always had unrealistic good wishes for the Chinese communist regime, eagerly hoping that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the CCP’s rule would become more liberal, even democratic, and a “responsible” power in the world. However, this US approach was a fundamental misunderstanding of the CCP’s real nature and long-term strategic goals.
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.
Friday, June 11th, 2021
Jordan and Israel need to exchange electricity for water. Jordan can produce green solar-powered electricity at 60% of the cost that Israel can, while Israel is the world leader in processing sea water into drinking water. Jordan is in dire need of more water due to a massive influx of refugees who aren’t going anywhere, while Israel needs green electricity to power those desalinization plants.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2021
A survey of American research on minimum wage by David Neumark & Peter Shirley at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Friday, January 1st, 2021
Cute, if harrowing: the no-longer economically viable Simpsons household, a piece in The Atlantic by Dani Alexis Ryskamp.
2020, the good news, by Doron Peskin at Israel’s Calcalist
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020
Friday, October 9th, 2020
Italians are used to cheap coffee (Perfect Daily Grind), which stays cheap because the beans are low-quality so profit margins are high. Can they change? Should they? It does seem like everyone benefits from the current ways.
Thursday, August 20th, 2020
The iPhone matters more than anything … it is the foundation of modern life.
Ben Johnson, “Apple, Epic, and the App Store”
Monday, June 15th, 2020
David Goldman produces a fact-filled yet overarchingly-theoried analysis of the mid-pandemic race-themed disturbances. Like for Palestinians, he argues it’s about humiliation. Goldman is sympathetic but not sycophantic, analytic but not caustic.
Sunday, May 24th, 2020
An anonymous employee beneficiary of Twitter’s IPO: “I think a lot of [people in Silicon Valley] care about basic income for everyone, because we’ve lived with it ourselves.”
Sunday, April 19th, 2020
Sunday, April 12th, 2020
In “The Unbearable Rightness of Trump”, the redoubtable Andrew Klavan recounts his erstwhile amusement watching the video mash-up of Trump saying “China”, only to realize later that the then presidential candidate was correct in his focus.
Klavan’s anecdote rings home precisely for me; I too was so amused that I showed the video to my son for laughs. When it matters most, and behind the weird performant exterior, Donald Trump’s vision pierces through the fog to the essence of a situation. That is why he is President.
Wednesday, April 8th, 2020
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Tyler Cowen and Ross Douthat in conversation.
So some combination of a strong state, some kind of small-c conservative social renewal, and some sort of futurism offers some kind of alchemy…
Sunday, January 26th, 2020
Saturday, December 14th, 2019
“Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict” — the inaugural James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Lecture in Economic Inequality at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics by Thomas Piketty (March 30th, 2018).
Labour is now populism for the lightly-educated middle-classes, argues John Gray with stonking cogency — and, it turns out a month later at the December 2019 election, accuracy. Until 2008 the Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, Gray has been referred to by one Nassim Nicholas Taleb as “prophetic”.
Wednesday, November 27th, 2019
Quite the overview: “The Real Class War” by Julius Krein, editor of American Affairs.
The real class war is between the 0.1 percent and (at most) the 10 percent—or, more precisely, between elites primarily dependent on capital gains and those primarily dependent on profes sional labor.
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
George Friedman on Brexit: it is very likely to happen, as is the painful shift to increased ties with the Anglosphere.
Monday, October 7th, 2019
“Guidelines for Israel’s National Security Strategy” by Gadi Eisenkot and Gabi Siboni [PDF] published October 2019 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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.
Thursday, September 26th, 2019
Starting from WeWork, Matt Stoller coins “counterfeit capitalism” as the Amazon model: “take inputs, combine them into products worth less than their cost, and plug up the deficit through the capital markets in hopes of acquiring market power later or of just self-dealing so the losses are placed onto someone else.” It is, he argues, terrible for society as a whole.
Monday, August 26th, 2019
It’s a Kentucky Fried Miracle: KFC will sell meatless Beyond Fried Chicken.
Saturday, August 3rd, 2019
How the rich differ, according to the currently-popupar Big Five psychological framework. More conscientious, less neurotic, less agreeable, more extravert, and more open to experience.
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
Saturday, June 8th, 2019
Monday, May 13th, 2019
A manifesto for the remaining sensible: “Tucker’s Right” by Michael Anton.
Friday, March 15th, 2019
Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2018 [PDF] by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Tuesday, January 1st, 2019
Chronicling from “below the API line”, as Venkatesh Rao calls it, are Austin Murphy with “I Used to Write for Sports Illustrated. Now I Deliver Packages for Amazon” in The Atlantic and Lauren Hough with “I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America” in The Huffington Post.
The depicted harshness of American work life for so many is terrible not just for those involved but for all. (Also these two share a prodigious unmet need to urinate on the job — is this the top new workplace tribulation?)
Monday, December 10th, 2018
The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success
This book seems like one for our times: a self-improvement topic given fresh life by being supported by social science data. There are sufficient surprising results — similar to say Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow — to warrant reading, despite, when stepping back and taking it on the whole, the thing feeling largely self-evident. But it is not, and probably deserves a reread.
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