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Saturday, September 24th, 2022

Kudos to the Biden Administration: Musk’s Starlink is legally permitted by the US Government to supply internet to Iranians.

Sunday, June 26th, 2022

Tom Johnson, author of “I’d Rather Be Writing”, a blog on technical writing, chronicles his journey away from smartphones. We know the topic but the author is pretty specific in his upset regarding how he feels that the phone has degraded his sense of self.

Sometimes, I’d occasionally pull out my phone without any particular reason, unlock the screen, and just stare at it dumbly, not sure about which app to open. When I caught myself doing this, I was kind of shocked, but also too desensitized to act. At every spare moment of inattention, I occupied my focus with some info from my phone. Something was wrong.

Thursday, June 16th, 2022

So Marc Andreessen’s interview with Tyler Cowen is making some waves because he seemed unable to justify Web3 (see tweets from Ian Bremmer, and, more predictably caustically, Nassim Nicholas Taleb). Personally I think Andreesse ha’s made the case better elsewhere, for instance, saying that if the internet had originally had a money layer then we’d never have had spam. But for me, as the developer of a new RSS reader, I was more interested in Tyler’s question about RSS:

Tyler Cowen: Do you still use an RSS reader?

Mark Andreessen: I do. This is actually an exciting moment on that topic for those of us who love these things. I use Feedly, which I like a great deal. It’s a guy. The guy who does it is a guy who used to work for us, a wonderful guy. I think it’s a great product and the inheritor of the now-lost Google Reader, the ruthlessly executed Google Reader.

This is talking about books, but Substack — one of our companies — has a new reader. It’s primarily for reading Substack. It basically is recreating, in my view, the best of what Google Reader had. That’s the other one that is getting a lot of use right now. I use both of those.

TC: Why does RSS at least seem to be so much less important than before?

MA: RSS is one of those things. I would say this gets into a broader, overarching, huge debate-fight happening in the tech industry right now. Internet got built on two models, which are diametrically opposed.

So Marc Andreessen uses Feedly and Substack! I wonder why both. I also want to know which reader TC uses — I seem to recall him saying that he does use one. The man seems to reply to hoi polloi — maybe I’ll ask him.

Incidentally I was surprised that this was not one of the better Conversations with Tyler. It didn’t really warm up into a good actual converation. For instance, I’d have thought MA would have asked TC, the world’s most renowned information omnivore, which RSS reader he uses. MA came across as a bit robotic, whereas I hadn’t gotten that impression from him before.

Saturday, May 14th, 2022

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

Saturday, February 5th, 2022

During this -26.4% period of reckoning for Facebook, David Goldman has linked to his 2012 essay What if Facebook is really worth $100 billion?

Where are the ads targeted to my tastes – harpsichords, assault rifles, kosher cookbooks, and cat toys? Perhaps I haven’t posted enough for the Matrix to process my profile. Still, I suspect that the more people use Facebook, the less the computers really will know about them … What makes Facebook so popular? The answer, I think is that Facebook exalts the insignificant.

Me, I never understood why Facebook and Microsoft are valued alongside Apple, Google and Amazon, which seem to have locks on more fundamental aspects of our lives: Apple for our increasingly central digital devices, Google for information garnered via those devices, and Amazon for fulfilling much of our material consumption. Yes, Facebook seems to have a lock on our relationships with friends and family, but it’s likely that nobody wants that intermediated by anything more than a tool; it’s the part we most want to keep keeping real.

Microsoft seems to have saved its bacon by going into gaming — which it totally deserves having developed the XBox — and by buying GitHub — and then in turn NPM! — and moving closer than any other corporation to open source, which was a scarily brilliant move that kind of upgrades its own DNA as a software maker (even as it likely somehow eventually stymies human progress). Its other big purchase, LinkedIn, strengthens M$‘s lock on the domain they’ve dominated for decades: the workplace. To me the Michael Scott social network seems more feasible to monetize than Facebook, but beyond that, the workplace feels at home with Microsoft; a Microsoft product need only be almost as good as a competitor’s to be selected. It’s a great brand that way. I guess. And being wrapped up in the Apple ecosphere one can forget that Microsoft remains the dominant player in device operating systems. Nonetheless in comparison to these other giants M$ seems a company just trying to keep up — though wasn’t it ever thus yet things continue to work out just fine for them.

Whereas Facebook’s Metaverse, without having watched the video, seems to either be a quest to dominate the online identity business, which, while suitably and juicily ambitious and evil, does not seem to be as giant a business as the others. Or else the Metaverse is a revisit of Second Life with improved resolution. Only if human existence on earth goes very pear-shaped indeed might people prefer this Virtual Reality Metaverse to a pair of Apple Vision shades, and of course if things got that bad we wouldn’t have the working infrastructure to power our Oculus Shmockuluses. Rather, perhaps Meta’s future is in analytics — even its new name suggests so — which is (hopefully) not as big a business as that of the other FAANGs.

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Inverse is a beautifully designed web magazine [should Web be capitalized?], a Joshua Topolsky joint alongside a stable of others that I’ve noticed are designwise a cut above what else is out there — Input, which is similar to Inverse and actually the two seem to unhelpfully overlap — and W, a women’s fashion mag also published by Bustle Digital Group that I normally wouldn’t have noticed but am enjoying the design.

Yet outstanding web artisanship notwithstanding, can a magazine survive if it feels ultimately corporate, which seems a danger when the job title changes from co-founder or Editor-in-Chief to Chief Content Officer, Culture & Innovation?

In Inverse the writing itself feels pretty generic, less tours-de-force by expert than relentless plodding coverage. Article after article appears on a single scroll; you never reach the end of the page, and although this is convenient, I’ve never liked this innovation, I feel overwhelmed and exhausted by it.

While the pages as a whole look great, the fact is I am not reading the articles; the san-serif body text looks like it’s less to be read than looked at. Also, it’s too far to the right on the screen. And there’s a little wobble.

From the case study by web shop Code and Theory, it appears Input and Inverse have been merged onto the same content management system, and Input was Topolsky’s technology mag baby but BDG also acquired science and entertainment site Inverse from elsewhere. No wonder the overlap.

They have a rationale for the infinite scroll:

In a world where scrolling through feeds feels second-nature, we designed Input and Inverse without traditional homepages. Upon landing on inputmag.com or inverse.com, readers see an infinite scroll of stories. Each story offers a snippet—the headline, maybe a quote, or a key stat, along with some information. The reader can then expand that story in the feed to read more, or continue scrolling.

When one story finishes, users scroll right back into the infinite stream of stories.

The stream can also be interrupted by rocks—curated content modules, e-commerce breakers and other fun interactive moments for the reader.

Maybe I’m unrepresentative of what most people like to do on the web, but I think this approch misguided. On an infinite scroll, reader becomes skimmer. Now maybe skimming is what you actually want readers to be doing on your site, not really reading the articles, thereby perhaps seeing and acting more on ads? All well and good, but skimming is less valuable and satisfying than reading an article set in a serif where the page ends when the article ends. If I read a piece, I want to feel I’ve read a piece.

One more thing: none of the subtitles has been informative but neither are they witty, rather they demonstrate that what’s leading is design not content.

Saturday, January 1st, 2022

It’s embarrassing but I’ve never really gotten the hang of the service, so I’m glad HN surfaced Tasshin & Brian Hall’s A Guide to Twitter.

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

Saturday, November 6th, 2021

A note from the MetaCompany:

On October 28th, 2021, Facebook decided to commit trademark infringement and call themselves “Meta”. They couldn’t buy us, so they tried to bury us by force of media. We shouldn’t be surprised by these actions — from a company that continually says one thing and does another. Facebook and its operating officers are deceitful and acting in bad faith, not only towards us, but to all of humanity.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

The proper dosage of hierarchy is just barely enough to vitalize a very large collective.

Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable

I agree: There is something endemic to online communication that exacerbates the dislike of and frustration with people with different values, writes Michelle Goldberg. And there’s nothing like a simple study, as stark as a thought experiment, to sharpen the mind:

[The Polarization Lab] recruited 1,220 Twitter users who identified as either Democrats or Republicans, offering to pay them $11 to follow a particular Twitter account for a month. Though the participants didn’t know it, the Democrats were assigned to follow a bot account that retweeted messages from prominent Republican politicians and thinkers. The Republicans, in turn, followed a bot account that retweeted Democrats.

“Nobody became more moderate,” said Bail. “Republicans in particular became much more conservative when they followed the Democratic bot, and Democrats became a little bit more liberal.”

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021

What a great piece on the dysfunctionality of online advertising at the now-defunct The Correspondent, “The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising” [2019] by Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn.

Picture this. Luigi’s Pizzeria hires three teenagers to hand out coupons to passersby. After a few weeks of flyering, one of the three turns out to be a marketing genius. Customers keep showing up with coupons distributed by this particular kid. The other two can’t make any sense of it: how does he do it? When they ask him, he explains: “I stand in the waiting area of the pizzeria.”

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

Gordon Brander thinks seriously about the Web vis-a-vis mobile.

By now, the web’s network advantage had evaporated. The iPhone’s native apps were internet apps, sandboxed, and talking HTTP, just like a web app. The iPhone was designed for a world that included the web. The web was not designed for a world that included the iPhone.

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

I wanted a way in Apple Mail to list all emails from VIPs to which I’ve not yet replied. After googling, I found a nice solution at MakeUseOf: “4 Mac Mail Productivity Tips All Professionals Must Know” (2019).

So I made a Smart Mailbox “VIP Unreplied” with all the following rules:

  • Sender is VIP
  • Message was not replied to
  • From does not contain donotreply
  • Message is not in mailbox “Already Replied”

And in the “Already Replied” Smart Mailbox:

  • Message has flag: Green

This second one because sometimes a message is handled in some other way than a reply or doesn’t need one.

Monday, July 19th, 2021

I think the author’s almost actually serious in his call to ditch HTML for PDF:

PDFs are page-oriented. This is another fundamental freedom – toknow unambiguously which part of the document you are looking at.Compare to infinite-scroll HTML pages which are disorienting bydesign. This may sound trivial, but seriously: with infinite scrolling,you are fundamentally not in control of the reading experience.

Ha, since he posted the mainfesto as an actual PDF, when I copied that quote it pasted full of triple-spaces and some non-spaces, which I’ve kept for effect — so much for that! Still, the author does bring up many important issues.

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days

Jessica Livingston

♦♦♦♦

I transcribed more of this book than any other, quoting these great guys who’ve been there and done that; it’s one for dipping in to when seeking inspiration.

The author — wife and Y Combinator partner to Paul Graham — gets out the way as much as possible and lets these guys speak; think Studs Terkel but only with hugely successful tech people.

Friday, July 9th, 2021

A reminder of the marvel and fragility of the Web by Jonathan Zittrain, law professor and computer science professor at Harvard, and a co-founder of its Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

What a sinking feeling, reading the announcement that Marginal Revolution is launching on Facebook’s Substack ripoff Bulletin”:https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2021/06/a-more-than-marginal-boost-for-marginal-revolution.html (I get a blank screen in Firefox, and naturally there’s no RSS feed). It’s interesting that trillion-dollar Facebook feels so threatened by Substack.

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 25th, 2021

I just logged on to Facebook for the first time in a while for a few minutes. This piece, full of zingers, captures the feeling of sickly irritation well.

[Facebook] exists as a weird kind of social museum, where I exist as an observer watching people I knew 5, 10, 15 years ago grow up, get married, have children, all the while saying nothing in the silence. Intersperse the family announcements with memes and ads and other nonsense, and my newsfeed is nothing but a wasteland, a place I’ll find maybe one relevant, engaging update from someone I know for every fifty I couldn’t care less about.

To be fair, I have a friend who finds his Facebook feed uplifting and enjoyable.

Saturday, June 5th, 2021

We are so used to saying “The internet changed everything” that we have forgotten it changed everything.

Peggy Noonan, What Drives Conspiracism

Monday, May 10th, 2021

Elle Griffin is serializing her novel on Substack and here lists others also publishing fiction on the platform.

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

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

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

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

Paul Krugman

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Metatags.io, a very nice tool to test your metatags. Bravo, makers.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

“Indie developers need protection from monopolistic and anti-competitive practices from larger players in the market through strong government regulation, not a discount on their first $1m in sales.” “Apple’s 15% Deflection Tactic” by John Luxford.

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

CEO Chris Best talks Substack with Eric Johnson of Recode. Email as a reading medium, I’m not drawn to it, but maybe because I still live with spam.

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

technovelgy.com, where science meets fiction, and a glorious taste of the old web.

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.”

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

“More news, less junk. Faster.” Brent Simmons has just released the free and open source RSS reader NetNewsWire app for iOS. This may well be a visible dent in the universe.

In an interview with Kelly Gulmont on MacObserver, he says in an interview that one of the things he’s most proud of is that search is really fast (in a 20-minute podcast, this, remarkably, is the only bit of substance; I won’t be listening again).

There’s a review up at MacStories, “NetNewsWire for iOS and iPadOS Review: The Perfect Complement to the App’s macOS Counterpart” while Cult of Mac has “NetNewsWire is reborn on iOS”. Also 9to5Mac.

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of an Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader

Brent Schlener and Rick Tetzell

♦♦♦

Although the simple thesis gets repeated interminably, nonetheless it’s a nice one: that Steve Jobs’s greatness stems muchly from his constant becoming, constant learning, constant trying to overcome himself (hence the title, which can be read as descriptive).

It’s great to be in his company, which you feel you are, as one of the authors was himself repeatedly so for decades.

One thing new to me was Pixar’s role in maturing Jobs; we don’t often read about who and what shaped the shaper.

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

Matt Layman’s handy Failed SaaS Postmortem — too much tech tinkering; I need to take heed. Plus it’s great he’s getting right back in the saddle.

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Install bullshit.js as a bookmarklet. Your insides will thank you.

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

“Please just leave me alone when I cross streets.” Richard Stallman’s terms of service for speaking engagements come to light [via The Register] surrounding his forced terminations. A couple of observations: for 66 his skin looks amazingly moist and smooth, like a healthy 25-year-old’s, which perhaps says something about his lifestyle and choices. And his exactingness regarding these terms is both ridiculous and admirable; few things are more important than knowing who we are and what we want and expressing these clearly.

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

itshello.co — clientless, open-source video chat in the browser.

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Now that’s a web site: New York City tree map — every last one, including street view, species, diameter. [via Kottke]

Monday, October 8th, 2018

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

Tim Berners-Lee announces his startup Inrupt to support and popularize Solid, a platform to enable people to regain control of their own data.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

I miss the days of forums, when any issue about a product was discussed on its own site and nowhere else. I do believe issues are better resolved online with posts, not chats.

Inappropriate use of chat software erodes mental health, at least, mine. Here’s a fun articulate essay on why the author hates Slack (and you should too).

And Slack is proprietory. I just scrolled up and was stopped and told I need a paid plan! And Discord: why?! Trendiness happens.

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.”

Friday, August 24th, 2018

“Modelling Process Intensive Scenarios for the Smart City” [PDF]. In this paper by professors at the computer science department at the University of Camerino in Italy, the authors discuss BPMN (and bpFM, which I’d never heard of before) in the context of municipal services, specifically bike-sharing.

Another perspective on bike-sharing, this time re usability, by mobile-first thought leader Luke Wroblewski.

index topics internet internet

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, September 27th, 2022

The American model appeared to demonstrate that capitalism plus democracyled to mass prosperity and deep social stability.
-Walter Russell Mead

ASK

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)

Saturday, September 24th, 2022

Kudos to the Biden Administration: Musk’s Starlink is legally permitted by the US Government to supply internet to Iranians.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

A good ol’ rant by everyone against Microsoft in this Hacker News thread, this time about Teams. When o when will this monstrosity of a corporation die already. “Developer-friendly”; may the GitHub guys get what they deserve for selling out to the Borg.

Israel’s patience and humility is rewarded first by Trump and now by Truss: the UK may follow the US in relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv the seafront metropolis to Jerusalem the capital.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022

Very ambitious people probably need colleagues more than anyone else, because they’re so starved for them in everyday life.

Paul Graham, What I’ve Learned from Users

Tuesday, September 20th, 2022

So ifixit are really excited by the repairability of the new iPhone 14, the internals of which have been totally redesigned. This was barely mentioned at the launch, and interestingly did not carry over to the 14 Pros.

Friday, September 16th, 2022

At Nat Con 3, Peter Thiel argues in a speech entitled “The Tech Curse” that while the Democrats have nothing to offer but the California model of gutting the middle classes except state employees, the Republicans nonetheless need something more than simply a negation of it.

One heuristic he offers in order to measure societal success in contrast to California is cheap real estate, but offers no path to get there.

My monomaniacal suggestion: flying cars/eVTOLs, which increase the human daily commute distance from about 50 to 250 miles, multiplying our practicable habitable area by likely an order of magnitude. As well as other unforeseeable boons, surely this would radically lower the cost of homes.

But it requires government support. “If the U.S. doesn’t take a leadership role, either someone else will do it or it won’t get done at all,” said Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-California), co-chair of the Congressional AAM Caucus, along with Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-California), at Honeywell’s Air Mobility Summit. “We are really at an inflection point in the industry. It’s such a critical time for Congress to get involved.”

Thursday, September 15th, 2022

Wednesday, September 7th, 2022

In Mosaic, Philologos discusses the Biblical use of “and”. The crux of the matter is this:

One reason that the prefixed vav is so ubiquitous in the Bible is that, as everyone familiar with biblical Hebrew knows, it can have a second function that is not a conjunction’s. This is the marking of tense—or more precisely, the reversing of tense, since it is a peculiarity of biblical Hebrew that a prefixed vav, when attached to a verb, can change its tense from past or perfect to future or imperfect, and vice versa.

And:

Biblical Hebrew has no punctuation (the cantillations it is chanted to in the synagogue are a later development) and is a language poor in conjunctions. Although it has its own ways of expressing logical and temporal relationships between parts of sentences, something that is largely done in English by means of commas and periods, dependent clauses, and conjunctions like “when,” “while,” “as,” “though,” “despite,” and so forth, biblical Hebrew rarely puts together sentences by such means. It prefers coordinate clauses joined by a vav—or, in more technical language, paratactic rather than hypotactic constructions in which the vav can do the work of various English conjunctions and mean other things beside “and.”

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

The Mufti, Qadaffi, King Hussein — I’m vastly enjoying season 2 of the Israeli TV documentary series Enemies (streaming requires an Israeli IP). One thing I can’t help but notice is the impressive living rooms in which the interviewees — mostly military intelligence vets — sit. None of them are in apartments, all have leafy window views, there’s a lot of wood, and most of them aren’t furnished like typical Israeli dwellings. I guess these aren’t military men, they’re men and women of the world.

I can’t tell if I enjoy Israeli docs because they’re so good, or merely because I’m the target audience. If it’s the former, and I think it is, they really should be selling them subtitled to wider audiences, say to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

It’s great, this pounding away at Israeli history, each episode a different prism.

Monday, September 5th, 2022

The reward is that if you give, even at the times when you think you have very little, you’ll teach your brain that there is more than enough.

Tony Robbins, Money: Master the Game

Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Neil Postman

♦♦♦

Entertainingly caustic albeit a tad ad nauseumly, Neil Postman’s famous book regales us with at least one important historical fact and one historical idea.

The fact: that before showbusiness, Americans were by far the world’s most literate, informed, engaged population, whereas today it must be said have a reputation abroad for ignorance.

The idea: that even while powerful technologies are mindless and agnostic, each nonetheless has its own nature that pushes society in particular directions. Postman argues mostly convincingly that print is healthy for society, television not.

Just like the self-help gurus pointing out that it’s better to totally goof off than do busywork because at least leisure doesn’t feel like work and thereby misguide the mind, so Postman prefers straight-up entertainment shows like Hart to Hart to those that pretend to inform like 60 Minutes.

Now, the book was written in 1985 and is about TV; the big question is what Postman would have thought of the Web and social media. He does write that the potential influence of computers is overrated, which reminds us that nobody’s infallible (which does undermine the book’s credibility, so kudos on the publishers of later editions in not cutting out these throwaway few words).

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

For those not yet cognizant of the fact that eVTOLs are coming soon and coming fast, Jeff Scallop writes up the rationale at “Still No Flying Cars? eVTOLs Might be the Answer” in Market for Ideas.

The main attractiveness of eVTOLs is their ability to reduce transit times in metropolitan areas, especially those routes subject to heavy traffic jams. Given current battery autonomy, ideal distances for eVTOLs range from 15 to 150 miles.

eVTOLs also offer many advantages when compared to helicopters, such as a lower cost per seat per mile (currently at $3.00, which is comparable to ride-hailing apps even). They also have much lower noise levels, allowing them to fly at lower altitudes and significantly reducing the necessary infrastructure costs (vertiports vs helipads), which could help boost adoption.

Saturday, August 27th, 2022

Friday, August 26th, 2022

Great interview at Berkeley with alum and local Oakland boy Craig Federighi [Dec 2019].

Friday, August 12th, 2022

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

I agree with the sentiment in this Haaretz op-ed piece “It’s Time for Israeli Media to Start Calling Gaza Victims by Their Names”, an issue I blogged about during a previous Gaza altercation back in 2014 and haven’t changed my mind. What regular folks here in Israel care about are the disruptions caused due to incoming rocket fire — and that’s totally legit. But for the record the media should be noting whom Israel kills in order to ameliorate the aggression — especially when they are non-combatants. Perhaps one argument against doing so is that we must rely for the facts on the Palestinians themselves, for whom facts seem to be malleable instruments. If credibility is truly Israel’s issue, then we should enlist the aid of credible third-parties organizations for corroboration.

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Yippee, Conrad Black is back, juicy and crunchy as ever. From “The Triumph of Davos Man”:

Our [hard Left] enemies leapt from the jaws of bitter and total defeat, hijacked the careening gadfly of esoteric conservationism, and transformed it surreptitiously into a well-camouflaged battering ram that has inflicted immense costs and opprobrium on the corporate world and great sadness and inconvenience on the laboring proletariat on whose behalf the Marxist Left has supposedly been crusading these past 150 years.

The second most important country in the Western Alliance is almost detached from it, all by the apparently innocuous and meliorist actions of Germany’s peppiest environmentalists.

Conrad Black, Triumph of Davos Man

News I can use: to be published in the academic journal Experimental Gerontology, “Frequent sauna bathing offsets the increased risk of death due to low socioeconomic status” — a prospective cohort study of middle-aged and older men.

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

At last, a British publication (The New Statesman, with muchos kudos for the great rebranding) addresses the bonkers British practice of placing washing machines in kitchens and consequently lacking space for dishwashers (or vice versa, the causality is mysterious):

Non-Brits find having a washing machine in the kitchen hilarious (as well as unhygienic, which it is). But the idea of bringing smelly socks near food preparation surfaces apparently pales in comparison to the shady plastic tub in the sink, its fleet of mugs bobbing in the oily foam.

The article even addresses that other bugbear: “UK residents commonly have separate hot and cold taps, whereas single mixer taps have long been the norm in Europe.”

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

Britons should be honored by this Palestinian diatribe against them.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

Telegraphy made relevance irrelevant.

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

The act of thinking … is as disconcerting and boring on television as it is on a Las Vegas stage.

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

Ventriloquism, dancing and mime do not play well on radio, just as sustained, complex talk does not play well on television.

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

Monday, August 1st, 2022

At Leeham News, Bjorn Fehrm critiques the efficacy of the Lilium eVTOL. His chief criticism:

The Lilium project is in its seventh year, yet it has not transitioned from hover to forward flight during this period. The widely proclaimed transition in early June was a main wing transition, not a transition for the vehicle (canard + main wing). Such a transition is yet to be made.

The fact that a VTOL developer makes such noise about a transition from hover to forward flight of a part of the vehicle tells you a lot. Other VTOL OEMs transition to forward flight within months of the first hover flight. Why is it such an issue for Lilium?

The use of jets voids Lilium of help from a rotor wash to attach the flow around wings and movables. The integration of jet thrust and movable also voids Lilium of a fast movable control surface to counter the pitch disturbances that are part of a transition. The canard design augments the pitch control problem by forcing a nose-heavy design.

Saturday, July 30th, 2022

Nice on Nietzsche. And nice that reviewer John Gray mentions La Gaya Scienza as one of his best books. Time for a reread.

Managing Editor of eVTOL News Dan Gettinger rounds up recent developments by eVTOL leader Archer, Beta, Eve, Joby, Lilium, Volocopter and Wisk.

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Really good interview with Seth Godin who had dropped off my radar because his posts felt too brief and too pat unto banality. I love his back-of-the-bottle trick for public speaking. Plus he closes with Eli Goldratt!

As soon as you make the decision not to work at Goldman Sachs everything you’re doing should be because you are trying to enable your mission, not because you are trying to make a living.

Seth Godin, “Seth Godin Hates Being Organized” by Superorganizers

Volkswagen has announced an eVTOL, reports Germany’s IT Times.

Brave of Tablet to publish this inflammatory Hunter Biden laptop story by Lee Smith:

There is so much data on Hunter Biden’s laptop that it’s hard to keep straight the sequence of images and information that have come from it since the New York Post started sourcing stories to the personal computer in October 2020. The most recent release includes 80,000 images that a Switzerland-based cyber expert recovered from deleted iPad and iPhone accounts backed up on the laptop.

There are more pictures, texts, and emails about the younger Biden’s business deals, drug use, sex life, and family relations. Hunter referred to his stepmother, first lady Jill Biden, as a “vindictive moron.” There’s a contact nicknamed “Pedo Peter,” which appears to refer to his father: Joe Biden often used the alias “Peter Henderson,” the name of a character in a Tom Clancy novel, when he traveled.

Thursday, July 21st, 2022

On Israeli Policy Pod, Ehud Yaari for the (more or less) hour. When asked who is the greatest of the many great men he met, he is unequivocal: Sadat.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

The virtues involved in being a good driver —the mix of independence and cooperation, knowledge and responsibility — really are virtues well suited to citizenship in a sprawling and diverse republic.

Ross Douthat, “What Driving Means for America” by Ross Douthat in The New York Times

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

Haaretz travel writer Moshe Gilad writes of hiking Israel’s abandoned Jerusalem line and how it could be put to use but is being stymied by Israel Railways — a reminder of the typical national dysfunction.

Sunday, July 17th, 2022

Israel views Iran’s new suicide UAVs as a top-level, strategic threat, argues the JISS thinktank:

UAVs are precision weapons, hence it is not enough to kill some of them or even many of them: The operational requirement is to kill them all – in the language of missile defense, to achieve a zero or near zero leakage rate. Defending against swarms of UAVs arriving simultaneously from every direction at treetop levels is a formidable challenge to any air defense system, a challenge that may well require the development and fielding of new technologies and operational doctrines.

Saturday, July 16th, 2022

At the Washington Institute, they note that popularity among Arab populations for the Abraham Accords remains low and that — surprisingly — it’s highest among… Palestinians!

Friday, July 15th, 2022

The maker of Linen, a service to make Slack conversations accessible, talks about how this time he went about starting a startup properly and got income within a month. Impressive.

The Spectator’s best London rooftop bars.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

Paula Wright has done us a service if we are willing to listen with her piece “We Need To Talk About Karen” on the danger of giving women a pass on malignant behavior. She uses some nice literary references as well, such as Les Miserables and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (though of course the feminist-inclined might point out that these are works penned by men).

It’s all fine and dandy lionising supposedly benign female traits, like “empathy” and “equality” but the evidence is right before our eyes that the female of the species can be just as deadly as the male, if by sleight of hand and not yet recorded in official statistics.

Why is this relevant?

As more women enter politics and managerial positions; as workplace policies become shaped by the invisible hand of female strategies of competition, whilst at the same time we remain both ignorant and in denial about them – this is why we must talk about Karen.

Saturday, July 9th, 2022

Walther Russell Mead illustrates his Jacksonian stream of American foreign policy thinking by showing how much affinity it has with Israel. I think for the most part WRM partakes of it himself.

As I learned from an emigre last night in at a meetup in London, Belarusians have taken to Telegram for news for anonymity.

Friday, July 8th, 2022

Melanie Philips soberly points out the parallels between Britain’s Johnson, America’s Trump, and Israel’s Netanyahu:

Despite the singular characteristics of this British implosion, there are striking similarities between Johnson and two other extraordinary world leaders—Israel’s former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and America’s former president, Donald Trump. All three were brought to power by voters repudiating the defeatist and self-destructive story being told about their nation by a progressive elite that had lost touch with reality.

In these different contexts, Johnson, Netanyahu and Trump were all seen to deliver what the public had so desperately sought but been denied for so long. All three, however, are flawed characters.

Thursday, July 7th, 2022

“Punch a TERF, smash the Zionists!” Fathom magazine, the journal of BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center, begins a series investigating the ramifications of the post-modern sociological revolution, ie, wokeness.

 
 

•••

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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  • ε/δ Thinking

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  • September 2022 Blog Update

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