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Let the Messiah In Nokia N95 8GB Tel Aviv, Israel Thursday, November 24th, 2011.

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Airport Ceiling iPhone 6S Málaga, Spain Monday, August 28th, 2017.

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Let the Messiah In Nokia N95 8GB Tel Aviv, Israel Thursday, November 24th, 2011.

•••

About

Briefs

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

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

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.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

What a huge story, Britain and France’s commitment to nuclear power, despite it being economically nonsensical in 2020, what with renewables ever cheaper. The amazing Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on nuclear power as a way to finance the Royal Navy.

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

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

Two interestingly contrarian pieces in the Daily Mail by authorities in their respective fields: “Ja, we Germans are jealous of Brexit” by Alexander Von Schoenburg, editor-at-large of Bild; and “Why woke diets featuring superfoods such as avocado are leading to a surge of distressing gut problems” by Luci Daniels, former chairman of the British Dietetic Association.

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

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

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

Albert-László Barabási

♦♦♦

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.

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

“Breaking Smart” by Venkatesh Rao. This is the first collection, “Software is Eating the World”, inspired by a residency at Andreessen/Horowitz.

“The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial” by Venkatesh Rao is the best thing I’ve read on the internet all year. I especially love his notion of being “above or below the API line”.

For more mediocrity theory, see his “Survival of the Mediocre Mediocre”: “Evolution is survival, not of the most mediocre (that would lead to paradox), but survival of the mediocre mediocre.”

Monday, August 20th, 2018

David P. Goldman has been predicting this for years, and now it is happening (nudged along by Trump’s new steel tariffs): Turkey is in a horrible mess and likely to become a Chinese satrapy.

Contrast with George Friedman’s notion that Turkey will become a superpower, which to me seems comically misguided.

That said, Turkey does seem a fulcrum power, a bellweather of who dominates global affairs; if it falls to China’s influence, this is not great for the West.

To me, with my papercut exposure to Turkey, the fundamental problem is this: they are unsatisfied with being a nationstate. Instead, they want to be the local imperium, which cannot be. Turks, I say: apply your justified satisfaction with quotidian life to the national level. That way you will indeed make friends and influence peoples.

Perhaps Look to Britain for this, which once ruled much more than the Ottomans, but harbors no hopeless dreams to revive a moment in history.

Perhaps not coincidentally, both states are currently in some danger of a secessionist crack-up.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Well, this an extravaganza of an article, practically a short book, on the American 9.9%.

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Even as the USA is troubled at the national level, it is often flourishing locally, argues James Fallows, who has spent five years criss-crossing the country with his wife.

“America is becoming more like itself again,” he writes. “More Americans are trying to make it so, in more places, than most Americans are aware.”

This is good, it seems to me; better than if the reverse were true.

index topics economy economy

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)

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Some 45 years after his victory, Kan tweets Menachem Begin’s historic victory speech [Hebrew].

We analyzed 9855 children from the USA who were part of the ABCD dataset with measures of intelligence at baseline (ages 9–10) and after two years. At baseline, time watching (r = − 0.12) and socializing (r = − 0.10) were negatively correlated with intelligence, while gaming did not correlate. After two years, gaming positively impacted intelligence (standardized β =  + 0.17), but socializing had no effect.

It’s not only news that Israeli company Watergen is installing its drinking water generators in Syria, but that (opposition web site) Syria TV reported the fact.

Hispanics: the new world-historic anchor whilst America’s Whites flounder.

Religious liberty, always. Parental rights, always. Right to life, always. Free markets, always. Compassionate but firm on immigration, always.

Saturday, May 14th, 2022

Venkatesh invites us to join him in exploring the hive mind (very meta). What a candy-maker, this one.

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

Elon Musks has said the problem with flying cars is the noise. (I think he’s also said he’d love to be working in the field.) Meanwhile Joby has just announced its eVTOL aircraft registered the equivalent of 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) from an altitude of 1,640 feet (500 meters) at 100 knots airspeed. According to eVTOL.com’s article, “NASA said it also plans to conduct similar acoustic testing with Wisk Aero”.

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.

At 1:03, this transcendent moment of moviemaking, John William’s theme counterpointing Alec Guinness’s delivery of George Lucas’s creation. “It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.”

So right now all the James Bond movies are available on Amazon Prime, and with the sudden plethora I was stumped which I’m due next to rewatch. When in doubt, it’s back to Goldfinger, just the first few minutes this time. Once again I’m blown away by just how good it is; it’s definitely arguable that both preceding and all subsequent movies lead to and emanate from it. The post-credit opening scene with the swoop down to the diving board and the cut to Felix watching the dive from the glass window — what delicious glamorous filmmaking. “Into Miami / Pigeon Game” is the 1-minute musical accompaniment.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

What a penetrating look at an earlier Israel by the recently-departed neoconservative scion Midge Decter. A paragraph chosen truly at random:

How was I to be prepared for the discovery that a kibbutz, salvation or damnation, transcendent new society or dustbin of failed transformations, was . . . a farm? I was, to be sure, quite aware that the kibbutzim engaged primarily in farming—that, too, was crucial to their ideology and mine—but from such awareness I had not even come near the image of those flat monotonous fields, unbroken by any visual mark of the drama that had created them, stretching to their termination at a dusty road or property line—the same as must be required anywhere in the world for the growing of cotton or corn or wheat. Degania Aleph, weeping Rachel of the whole movement, sits somnolently by the side of the road (for some reason, I can never envision History as taking place alongside an ordinary thoroughfare, accessible to any passing mortal; History must be climbed up to or stumbled down upon) near the Sea of Galilee, giving no physical hint of anything but a usually drab farm life—with neither marker nor monument to set her apart.

Sunday, May 8th, 2022

A limited but at least scientific study of fasting for 8 days among middle-aged males in Poland.

After 8 days of WF, all subjects were found to remain safe and feel the sense of well-being. However, the appearance of the above-mentioned adverse metabolic effects [decreased serum Ca and Mg++ concentrations, more acidic urine], despite partially effective renal compensations, suggests that the further continuation of fasting intervention by the subjects would be detrimental to their body.

The occasional juice with celery and spinach should help with calcium and magnesium depletion. Or pop a supplement?

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.”

Monday, May 2nd, 2022

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Robert T. Kiyosaki

♦♦♦♦

Perusing the library, I realized I had not read this classic. Well, it’s exciting, and successfully inculcates the importance of assets vs earned income. The author’s preference is to avoid the hard work of running a business and instead use salaried income to buy stocks, and with any winnings, buy real estate — or finding other creative ways to finance the purchase of real estate. That’s the financial technique, but there are personal techniques as well, such as differentiating between poor (an identity) and broke (a situation), and exchanging the thought “I can’t afford it” to “How can I afford it?”. Nice, and one I wouldn’t mind to have available permanently.

Some choice quotes:

Savings are used only to create more money, not to pay bills.

I use my desire to consume to inspire and motivate my financial genius to invest.

Saturday, April 30th, 2022

Blue Moon

Lee Child

♦♦

The great Reacher TV series led me to try a Kindle sample, which read well. Feeling in safe hands, I searched the local public library for whichever they had in stock. They had three, and I picked Blue Moon. I began with enjoyment, reflecting on the fictional dream created as we move from little setpiece to little setpiece (a Greyhound bus, a bar, a rundown suburban home). I so enjoy that imaginative experience of fun fiction and love inducing it in others. But after a while this story becones preposterous. The waitress he meets turns out to be a superwoman, and her friends become Reacher’s special forces army as the book climaxes with attacks on the gangsters’ lairs, the body count like that of a one-person shooter. It ends up being… daft, so I think that’s it for me.

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Jonathan Haidt is wise enough to note that it is mainly America, not necessary the rest of the world, that has gone particularly mental the past decade. Haidt blames social media. But the word “marriage” does not occur even once in the article, despite the decade having seen same-sex marriage transformed from oxymoronic absurdity to self-evident cudgel. If a human institution so deep — deeper than the nationstate, than monotheism, even than history itself — can be so decidedly upended, then what chance has anything else of standing, the collective subconscious must wonder.

Monday, April 11th, 2022

Screenwriting — and acting — genius: Billions, Cory Stoll as Mike Prinz, after a bluff that apparently puts Chuck Rhodes in prison, is watched by the replacement attorney general as he leaves to go to the elevator. Feeling faint and queasy from moments ago losing $3.5b in crypto while pretending to know nothing about it, he leans on the wall in a way a person just wouldn’t normally do. And she knows he was lying. On this subtle display of body language rests so much. Plus, the episode ends with Jerry Garcia singing “Don’t You Let That Deal Go Down”.

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Testing entire BPMN process paths — a Camunda blog article. I guess I’m being hopelessly naive but it seems to me BPMN could be used to test software logic; software doesn’t just power processes, software itself is comprised of processes, ie, the transformations that happen to variables.

Cool — Bloomberg’s Pret Index shows that coffee sales at UK airports are now higher than pre-pandemic.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

Niall Ferguson’s important and much-quoted Bloomberg piece of March 22nd on the cynical/optimistic Biden strategy for Ukraine:

It is, when you come to think of it, archetypal Realpolitik to allow the carnage in Ukraine to continue; to sit back and watch the heroic Ukrainians “bleed Russia dry”; to think of the conflict as a mere sub-plot in Cold War II, a struggle in which China is our real opponent. … The optimism, however, is the assumption that allowing the war to keep going will necessarily undermine Putin’s position; and that his humiliation in turn will serve as a deterrent to China. I fear these assumptions may be badly wrong and reflect a misunderstanding of the relevant history.

Monday, March 28th, 2022

It’s time to catch up: the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (a son of the UAE’s founder) speaks in his rather nice English accent at the close of the Negev Summit in Sde Boker.

Friday, March 25th, 2022

Top-flight series of Hebrew animated shorts חדר וחצי about a bachelor clown and his home.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have met with President Volodymy Zelenskyy. The glimmerings perhaps of a significant new bloc.

The BoJo Doctrine: Exploit the potential of all renewable energy technologies in this country, from tidal power to hydro to geothermal … Make a series of big new bets on nuclear power.”

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

In the new inflation, the water-cooler is gone, the press serves as water-cooler, the government as press. This does have the fortunate effect of leaving the people available to govern.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

At TidBits Adam Engst points out that there are other professionals using Macs beyond “developers, photographers, filmmakers, 3D artists, scientists, music producers” who may not necessarily need such giant power but could nonetheless do with some improvements.

I remain flabbergasted that the FaceTime cameras in even Apple’s latest Macs are so pathetic. Even the cheapest iPad and iPhone put the newest Mac cameras to shame, and quite a few iPad and iPhone models have Face ID support for authentication. We’re talking about technology that Apple has used numerous times. So why isn’t it in Macs?

You can get an iPad with cellular connectivity, so why not a MacBook? The lack of a cellular option for Apple’s laptops has been a glaring omission for years and is yet another example of how Apple doesn’t acknowledge the needs of mobile professionals.

I hadn’t thought of any of these things, but they are obvious.

Full transcript of Mohammed bin Salman’s interview with Graeme Wood of The Atlantic — and JCPA’s take on it:

This is the first time the Saudi crown prince has publicly referred to Israel as a “potential ally.” He also spoke about Iran in a different tone. In an Atlantic interview four years ago, Bin Salman compared Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to “Hitler” and said Iran was leading the “axis of evil.” This time such talk was replaced by calling the Iranians “neighbors” of Saudi Arabia.

Friday, March 4th, 2022

As an antidote to the war in Ukraine, not far away, in Germany, development of the Lilium eVTOL continues apace. It’s perhaps the most exciting of the upcoming electric planes. The eVTOL Innovation YouTube channel has just dropped a video The Insane Engineering behind The Lilium Jet.

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

Bari Weiss seems bigger than the NYT! Her sponsor is Disney+, her panel is Ferguson, Mead and Fukuyama, no less.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Russia, as parlance goes, is too big to fail; we need to forge it an off-ramp from this horrific self-inflicted disaster, as Commentary’s Noah Rothman argues in “What if Russia loses”, Sam Altman of YCombinator tweets, and presumably plenty of other smart people are saying.

Putin though is probably not quite ready to take it, thinking he may yet regain the military upper hand, as attested by the lengthy convoys headed today to Kyiv. He may then as Putin biographer Anita Hill fears, savvily offer the delectable compromise of partitioning Ukraine, wherein he gets the east and others can divvy up the rest. Joe Biden has after all a predilection for territorial break-up — he thought it right for Iraq.

Fortunately it seems we are well beyond Europe countenancing such temptations; Germany has reoriented around the danger emanating from Russia, the UK is acting on what it called it “a catastrophe on our continent” [emphasis mine], and a myriad of surprising others are joining the fray each in their way (Switzerland, Finland, etc).

Also, it does seem self-evident that Vlad the Mad has lost some of the faculties he’s had up to now, so that such diplomatic savvy might never be forthcoming from him. As of now, Russian diplomatic efforts in such forums as the United Nations are of the Baghdad Bob sort even as the Ukrainians are performing masterfully, not just spreading the word but showing Westerners (and probably everyone else): we’re your sort of people — more, we’re the sort of people you hope you are.

Once again, the West must win firmly, though this time — unlike after the collapse of its Soviet Union guise — there should be effective stroking of Russia’s vanities.

Cogent interview with Putin biographer Fiona Hill. She floats the notion that he’d be happy to have Ukraine broken up:

In 2015, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was at the Munich Security Conference after the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas. And he talked about Ukraine not being a country, saying pointedly that there are many minority groups in Ukraine — there are Poles and there are Romanians, there are Hungarians and Russians. And he goes on essentially almost inviting the rest of Europe to divide Ukraine up.

So what Putin wants isn’t necessarily to occupy the whole country, but really to divide it up. He’s looked at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other places where there’s a division of the country between the officially sanctioned forces on the one hand, and the rebel forces on the other. That’s something that Putin could definitely live with — a fractured, shattered Ukraine with different bits being in different statuses.

Partitioning the country; that’s a solution Biden always goes for. And if Putin suggests it, the Europeans may pressure the Ukrainians to accept it. Though it could well be that the European mood has changed sufficiently so that even the newly feckless United States could accept that, they won’t.

Monday, February 28th, 2022

At last, Mark Steyn is writing again.

I take faint glimmers of a new seriousness in the chancelleries of Europe not as a sign of Nato “unity”, but as the dawning realization that the US has blown the last thirty years and they’re now in a post-American world, and, absent course-correction, ultimately on the same grim trajectory as Ukraine.

In Tablet, Lee Smith writes lists the plethora of wickedly poor decisions that led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in 1994 in exchange for U.S. security guarantees in the event its neighbors, Russia in particular, turned hostile. What kind of strategy dictates that a state hand over its security vis-a-vis local actors to a country half the world away? No strategy at all. Ukraine was not able to transcend its natural geography as a buffer state — and worse, a buffer state that failed to take its own existence seriously, which meant that it would continue to make disastrously bad bets.

By tying itself to an American administration that had shown itself to be reckless and dangerous, the Ukrainians made a geopolitical blunder that statesmen will study for years to come: A buffer state had staked its future on a distant power that had simply seen it as an instrument to annoy its powerful neighbor with no attachment to any larger strategic concept that it was willing to support.

To sum it up in few words: “10% for the big guy”.

In this interview, Francis Fukuyama points out:

One of the things that’s happened over the past couple of weeks is that Russia has effectively reabsorbed Belarus. It had been an independent country, after 1991, but it’s effectively become part of Russia.

Israel’s Channel 12 News has tweeted out this video of an Israeli Ukrainian soldier, saying in Hebrew:

It’ll be ok. All the world is with us. They are finished regardless. And Putin won’t be able to do anything with this. This was his last war. And that’s it, we will win regardless. We already beat them actually, even if we die, we beat them. It’s incontrovertible.”

Saturday, February 26th, 2022

At /r/interestingasfuck, President of Ukraine Zelensky plays piano without his hands. As humanity rallies to ballsy Ukraine, it seems Putin has lost already?

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

I just had to read this one entitled “Why Putin didn’t invade Ukraine during the last U.S. administration”. The question should be a discomfiting one indeed for people of the author’s ilk. His response, prefaced by a prudent “perhaps”: “because Putin was so pleased to see Trump pursuing goals in line with Moscow’s agenda”. Steve Benen is a producer for The Rachel Maddow Show.

He really was the best: P. J. O’Rourke on Israel. I could excerpt any damn paragraph, but here’s just one:

There was no sign of war. Plenty of soldiers were to be seen, carrying their weapons, but this is no shock to the frequent traveler. For all that the world looks askance at America’s lack of gun control, foreigners love to wave guns around. Nothing about the Israeli Defense Forces is as odd as Italian carabinieri brandishing their machine pistols while grimly patrolling that flash-point Venice.

The kids wanted a Nintendo Switch. I thought — and was advised — a used Wii would be wise. Because kids, we now have both. Ever since my first computer, an Apple //c, your churlish host has considered a gaming console redundant and wasteful. But, like Apple, Nintendo it seems is a universe of excellence into which to dive. Yamauchi No. 10 Family Office is the website of the Nintendo founding family. Cool scrolling, ambitious mission, constant motion, and the music sounds like Son of Jeff Lynne.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

The happiness superpower.

For our study, we followed almost 1 million U.S. Army soldiers for nearly five years. We first asked them to rate their well-being — their happiness, if you will — along with their optimism, and then tracked which soldiers later received awards based on their job performance … We saw four times as many awards earned by the initially happiest soldiers (upper quartile) compared with those who were unhappiest initially (lower quartile) — a huge difference in performance between those groups.

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

America today: the fractious school board meeting. I blame, well, so many things. Corn subsidies? No-fault divorce? The lack perhaps of a dietary component in Protestantism? But despite the madness this video shows that the will to civility still remains, which is a tendril for hope.

Pierce Brosnan watches Goldeneye for the first time since he made it. We got lucky that as a child his first great cinematic experience was Goldfinger. Like any red-blooded boy he had the toy Corgi car. Has anyone suggested as a successor… Russell Brand?

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.

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Oh, the minor yet multitudinous wonders of our age! I just discovered Yarn, where you “search by word or phrase for TV, movie and music clips”. What a fun business to have created!

Marc Andreessen has just tweetstormed a section of an Ayn Rand lecture on the contrast between the tribes of Apollo 11 and of Woodstock. Whilst I commend his pro-Deplorables stand, I do feel that as one of the fathers of the age he could be utilizing his mystique to do more, starting perhaps with banging heads in San Francisco. During a recent podcast interview with I forget whom, he dismissed laughingly the prospect of running for office; perhaps he should reconsider. Also, just for some rounding, he might want to read Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon, surely an Apollonian who yearns for the Dionysian.

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Goldman is moved by Reacher:

Radical Protestantism leads the pilgrim from the “howling wilderness” and the “enchanted ground” of the Old World and leads him to the Canaan of the spirit. The question is addressed to, and answered by, the individual pilgrim. The Jew is born into the people of Israel; the Christian seeks adoption into the Israel of the Spirit. American Christianity retains the radical individualism of its Protestant forebears, who chose as individuals to become Americans. We have become Americans by adoption, and we have adopted the history of Israel as our national common memory. A profound parallelism is involved. The biblical Election of Israel was not a prize that God awarded to an unlikely nation of shepherds, but rather the outcome of Israel’s free choice to accept the Torah and the responsibility of election. It is our free choice to become Americans that is the cornerstone of our culture.

Thursday, February 10th, 2022

A web-based treasure, Alexey Guzey’s Theses on Sleep, in which he makes the obvious yet original parallel between sleeping and eating, and that we should probably be sleeping less than we do.

Experiencing hunger is normal and does not necessarily imply that you are not eating enough. Never being hungry means you are probably eating too much. Experiencing sleepiness is normal and does not necessarily imply that you are undersleeping. Never being sleepy means you are probably sleeping too much.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

From the JET Lab, a new record has been set in nuclear fusion. Tellingly, the BBC news item covering the story has only a single tag: climate change.

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

No nominations for The French Dispatch. Huh. Variety is also surprised.

 
 

•••

Newsroll

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

experiments in refactored perception

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