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.
Friday, March 4th, 2022
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.
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.
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?
Friday, February 11th, 2022
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.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2022
eVTOL Innovation YouTube channel extols the Lilium as the most promising of the upcoming ways we will fly.
Wednesday, January 12th, 2022
In the very-nicely-titled online review Crooked Marquee, Jason Bailey does justice to Wes Anderson’s fabulous new The French Dispatch:
Charmingly, this film that loves writers is also one of Anderson’s most lavishly directed – which is, I know, saying something … Anderson’s films have also become a welcome opportunity for serious actors to let their hair down – Tilda Swinton is clearly having a blast.
Yes indeed, The French Dispatch is a box of supercandy for grownups. Modern works seem to take it as part of their mission to be the supreme work; even if doomed to fail, there’s an understanding that a serious attempt elevates everything. (Or, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, “I don’t design a house without reimagining the social order.”) The French Dispatch is a contender for one thing it is an ode to other mediums: typography, cooking, France, the written word. All that and the title triggers “The French Mistake”…).
And looking around again at reviews, actually again it’s David Brody who treats it most appropriately, so bloody enthusiastic that he retells parts of it, which seems rather a faux pas for his critical stature. Brody reminds us at the end that yes, it is a screenplay that flows with noble emotion, exquisitely portrayed. And in the end he compares Anderson with Hemingway. See, what did I tell you…
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.
Tuesday, October 26th, 2021
Hijinks for the practicing intellectualoid: Mansfield on Machiavelli, acknowledging the Florentin’s modernity paternity.
Friday, July 9th, 2021
A voice new to me, David E. Bernstein, gives a fresh and concise viewpoint on the tired topic of why so many love to hate on Israel, providing separate reasons for the disparate groups. For Christians:
Christian critics of Israel so often accuse Jews of not learning anything from the Holocaust; in their mind, the Holocaust is a story about Christian sin and possible redemption via the actions of the victims; the fate of the Jewish people as a people is at best irrelevant.
Mohammed started his empire with limited territory and a small army, only to expand throughout the Middle East and North Africa. There is undoubtedly some latent fear that Israel is a camel’s nose under the tent for Jewish expansionism. This of course misunderstands Zionism and Judaism, but the average Muslim knows little about Judaism.
Friday, May 14th, 2021
This feels important — Austria flies Israel’s flag alongside its own and the EU’s over the Chancellory in Vienna.
Monday, February 15th, 2021
Tuesday, December 15th, 2020
Ross Douthat in his typical perfect way essays on American childbearing in the really nice magazine Plough.
Sunday, January 26th, 2020
Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
Counterintuitive arguments from the redoubtable Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that Boris’s ascension reduces the plausibility of Scottish secession from the UK.
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).
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
AutoCar drives the electric Jaguar I-Pace from London to Frankfurt. As recently as two years ago such a journey simply wasn’t feasible. Now, once you have the more expensive car, it’s much cheaper than driving diesel let alone petrol. That said, charging stops are an hour rather than five minutes, and every 200 miles rather than say every 500. But I think there is some good here. Travellers must get out and stretch their legs for a longer while. All in all our automotive future looks improved.
Sunday, September 8th, 2019
I want to ride the Goldenpass Express, a Swiss panoramic train designed by Pininfarina.
Friday, March 15th, 2019
Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2018 [PDF] by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Sunday, December 16th, 2018
The nine totally must-read lessons of Brexit by Ivan Rogers, who was fired as Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union for stating some of these truths. Abject.
Thursday, October 25th, 2018
British influence in the EU has been far greater than recognised, this piece argues. If this was better understood in Britain — and if, say, the BBC had devoted a couple of hours a week to pure Europe news — I’m guessing Britons would be much more pro-Europe today and the Brexit own-goal would not have occurred.
Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
A German court has issues the first GDPR ruling, reports The National Law Review. It concerns ICANN, the American non-profit that oversees the global WHOIS database of registered internet domain names, and German registrar EPAG.
Sunday, June 17th, 2018
As my year of diving languorously into the murky waters of the Wake wore on, I came to feel that it was this failure, this impossibility, this grand futility of the Wake, that constituted its secret theme, its true aboutness.
Thursday, May 31st, 2018
The Dawn of Day
This is a delicious book to pick up in spurts — BMW punchy as Emerson is Rolls-Royce bubbly — but I couldn’t say what it’s chiefly about, where it starts, where it ends, how it fits in with Nietzsche’s other books, nor whether I’ve even read it before (I do remember particular points but perhaps they’re also mentioned in the other books). As usual this 19th-century giant sounds as if he writes… this morning.
Sunday, April 1st, 2018
What did Jews tend to die of? The entry on morbidity in the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906.
Friday, March 30th, 2018
When Galileo looked up at the night sky with his new-fangled teslescope one profound effect was the dislodging of the nonsensical metaphysical notion from Aquinas of the perfection of the stars.
Sunday, January 21st, 2018
“A gifted mimic, he nonetheless eschews regional accents for comic effect.” Dean Allen, RIP by his friend Om Malik. I used Allen’s work to type this very link; he invented Textile, a method for writing HTML (now superceded in mindshare by John Gruber’s Markdown). See also Gruber’s and Jason Kottke’s eulogies.
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 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.
Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
Ivan Rogers, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU during David Cameron’s tenure as Prime Minister, speaks to the events leading up to the Brexit referendum. There’s so much detail, and we see where Cameron was succeeding, but nonetheless a failure happened here.
Tuesday, October 24th, 2017
On the crippling ambivalence throughout the British Government as it feels compelled to implement Brexit. Something’s got to give.
Spengler (David Goldman) on the irony that Europe’s new rightwing nationalists admire Israel.
Monday, September 25th, 2017
In a nice interview about his book, the great Yanis Varoufakis reviews what happened during the Greek bailout negotiations.
Tuesday, July 4th, 2017
Robots don’t eat chocolate. James Meek weaves a rich tale of Cadbury’s moving its chocolate factory from Bristol in England to Skarbimierz in Poland. We get EU politics, British commercial history and contemporary Polish politics. It’s a microcosm of the economic game of musical chairs happening in our era. [via Tyler Cowen’s marginalrevolution.com]
Sunday, June 25th, 2017
As an antidote to the borderline smarminess of Jason Horowitz’s New York Times article about returning to Rome, here is a more substantial, dignified, rewarding and useful guide to visiting the city by a blogger named Nan Quick: My Recipe for a Stress-Free Week in Rome. Warning: she takes a couple of paragraphs to warm up.
Saturday, June 24th, 2017
He had me with his first-paragraph mention of Trattoria Da Enzo, my favorite. I’ve forwarded to visitors this panegyric to Rome by the incoming New York Times’ bureau chief. A lot of attractive restaurants mentioned and described. [via Juan Carlos Bronstein, who was unimpressed by the tone, as are many others in the comments]
Friday, June 23rd, 2017
Tainted and beloved: Terry Teachout on the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras’ participation in the Nazi project..
Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
This is fascinating: Turks residing in liberal Europe voted far more heavily for Erdogan’s authoritarian referendum — about 70/30 — than did Turks at home, about 50/50. Far less still did Turks in the USA and the UK vote for it — about 84% and 80% against respectively. A measure of ideological/cultural integration?
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.
Tuesday, January 10th, 2017
Ian Buruma on Brussels. I found it a pretty exciting city so when I saw this article I jumped on it (plus I vaguely remember being impressed by something else this fellow wrote) and it’s pretty sweeping and fun.
Monday, October 17th, 2016
Visiting Poland, George Weigel articulates the current civilizational crisis.
Monday, September 12th, 2016
Now that I’ve joined eyeem.com, I was attracted to this article on Instagram and art history. “Today, we look at Instagram feeds with the same level of scrutiny as the Renaissance merchants who converted their Madonnas into ducats.” He argues persuasively and enjoyably that we are being just like Amsterdam burghers.
Monday, September 5th, 2016
Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
The Guardian interviews Brunhilde Pomsel, Goebbels’ secretary, now 105, who retired in 1971 as executive secretary to the director of programmes at Germany state broadcaster.
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
On “the Weimar aspect of our current moment”: I haven’t read Andrew Sullivan for a long time, but he seems to be hitting it here, Democracies end when they are too democratic, in New York magazine.
Monday, July 18th, 2016
Saturday, July 16th, 2016
“The Kemalist era in Turkish history lasted for almost 100 years, but finally came to an end in the last 18 hours.” A great balance between up-to-the-minute reports and historical background, Walter Russell Mead live-blogs the failed Turkish Coup.
Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
Quite the sentence, this, from Walter Russell Mead: “Products of meritocratic selection who hold key positions in the social machine, the bien-pensant custodians of post-historical ideology—editorial writers at the NY Times, staffers in cultural and educational bureaucracies, Eurocratic functionaries, much of the professoriat, the human rights priesthood and so on—are utterly convinced that they see farther and deeper than the less credentialed, less educated, less tolerant and less sophisticated knuckle-dragging also-rans outside the magic circle of post-historical groupthink.”