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The Inspector iPhone 6S Kiryat Ono, Israel Sunday, October 2nd, 2016.

The Inspector
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The Inspector iPhone 6S Kiryat Ono, Israel Sunday, October 2nd, 2016.

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About

Briefs

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion

Tom Segev

♦♦♦♦

Just as author Tom Segev relates that Ben-Gurion increasingly harked back to the episodes that shaped him in his earlier life, so too are these episodes more vivid to us than later ones. This would be fine and even impressive as a literary gambit, having the reader feel about Ben-Gurion’s life the way Ben-Gurion himself did, but at least for this reader it was somewhat disappointing in that it’s the later events — founding and leading the State of Israel — that we are reading for. But again, this too may be a literary achievement, suggesting that for the subject of this biography, it was the younger man’s experiences that were important — and that by extension this is the case for all lives. But I’m not sure that’s accurate; surely the ambitious younger Ben-Gurion would have been overjoyed at the eventual achievements of his later self.

It’s a strange complaint to make, but I feel this book wasn’t long enough; each of the many episodes, particularly the later more historic ones, I felt could have withstood more detail.

I was pleased to learn of Ben-Gurion’s erratic behavior and attitude towards his family, and of his penchant for travel and mild but somewhat constant womanizing, and his growing intellectualism alongside faddishness. Segev concludes that Ben-Gurion’s philosophical disposition is basically that of Anglo-American liberal; all to the good. Almost. The implication is that this temperate poise made him the wise indispensable man, but also open him to more exciting dead-end intellectual enthusiasms.

Friendships, sex, religious relations, despair — the richness of the subject matter’s life encourages in the reader a life in politics as it’s a life in full.

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).

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, February 14th, 2022

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.

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, December 8th, 2021

The Man with the Golden Gun

Ian Fleming

♦♦♦

Surely I’ve read The Man with the Golden Gun before, given that this mangy old paperback has been on my bookshelves since 2006? Perhaps, but I remember nothing.

Some scenes that seem somewhat vivid for now:

  • The middle: James Bond meets kind-hearted Tiffy, the manageress of a Jamaican cathouse, before finding Scaramanga, who promptly does something totally awful
  • The end: As Scaramanga’s temporary assistant, James Bond machinates and maneuvers around the underfunded hotel that the assassin is building
  • The beginning: M ruminates over his decision to send Bond after Scaramanga

Right now the best part seems to me M’s internal monologue after a brainwashed James Bond, back in London after imprisonment in Russia, fails to assassinate him at his desk (a glass screen plummeting down from the ceiling to block the poison Bond has fired, foreshadowing the spirit of gadgetry to come in the movies).

In wake of this domestic excitement, as M calls it, he decides to send Bond after Scaramanga, who has killed some British agents, figuring the Double-O will either succeed in killing the fellow and thereby redeem himself, or conveniently die trying.

Chief of Staff Bill Tanner thinks this cold-hearted, as Scaramanga is so dangerous. M takes a solitary lunch at his club Blades, troubled presumably over both the event and his subsequent decision, but we are only privy to his thoughts once on the ride back to the office, when he reassures himself that his decision really was wise — indeed he almost can’t believe that his instant instinctual choice stands up so well to scrutiny. This is our glimpse at leadership. The rest of the novel — and the entire series — is our exploration of manliness.

In the movie we lose this brief inner turmoil from M, but we gain a more impressive (though not sufficiently so) Scaramanga in Christopher Lee, who is as suave as Fleming’s assassin is lunky; and we get fabulous Thailand instead of, yet again, Fleming’s Jamaica. To make a long story very short, we’re rather missing Nick Nack.

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

At Starter Story, Ed Baldoni, founder of Concrete Countertop Solutions, tells the story of how his business has reached $1.1m in monthly revenue.

I was a developer/ home builder for over 40 years. As a builder, I was always looking to stay ahead of the curve and offer new ideas to my clients … Our Z Counterform System for countertops and Z Poolform System for concrete pool coping are the go-to solutions for cast-in-place concrete forms. With a small but dedicated team, we grew this business from an idea to over $12M in revenue in 10 years.

Exciting story, exciting product.

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

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

Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Via Hacker News, “The Eleven Laws of Showrunning” by Javier Grillo-Marxuach is so beautifully written and serves as a primer for management of anything

As special and wonderful as creativity and process may be, they are assets that can be channeled, managed, made to work on call, and sent to bed at a decent hour.

Since I’m currently watching Disney Gallery / Star Wars: The Mandalorian, showrunners Jon Favreau and David Filoni appear to exemplify the virtues.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

The Guardian posts an excerpt from Gillian Tett’s Anthro-Vision. Regarding working from home, a senior trader at JP Morgan observed:

The really big problem was incidental information exchange. “The bit that’s very hard to replicate is the information you didn’t know you needed,” observed Charles Bristow, a senior trader at JP Morgan. “[It’s] where you hear some noise from a desk a corridor away, or you hear a word that triggers a thought. If you’re working from home, you don’t know that you need that information.” Working from home also made it hard to teach younger bankers how to think and behave; physical experiences were crucial for conveying the habits of finance or being an apprentice.

Monday, June 14th, 2021

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Via Hacker News, and in the grand spirit of Charlie Munger’s edict to “Invert, always invert,” this is Julio Merino on “Always be Quitting”.

So what does it mean to always be quitting? It means “making yourself replaceable”; “deprecating yourself”; “automating yourself out of your job” … The key lies in NOT being indispensable … Paradoxically, by being disposable, you free yourself. You make it easier for yourself to grow into a higher-level role and you make it easier for yourself to change the projects you work on.

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Top 20 racing cheats by Preston Lerner at Hagerty, a reminder that rules are made to be… stretched.

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

Cal Newport takes on GTD in the run-up to his new book against email as the world’s abysmal task management system.

The piece does start like a Tad Friend-esque hatchet job on Merlin Mann but that’s just a way to appeal to your squalid New Yorker reader.

Friday, December 11th, 2020

I’ve been surprised and disappointed by just how many people are hesitant to take up the COVID-19 vaccines now coming online. In this concerned Nautilus article “How to Build Trust in Covid-19 Vaccines”, the authors take on the issue with sober good sense, eg:

Mandatory vaccination policies should be avoided because they could backfire. More acceptable would be tying vaccination status to travel or access to public places.

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

“How to Get Your First Customers So Your Company Doesn’t Die” by Matt Munson, a startup founder coach and investor. Some nice nuggets here, such as hiring salespeople in pairs so that you can compare them and be sure any issues are with individuals rather than the system.

Thursday, July 30th, 2020

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

♦♦♦♦

It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work may be a business book but, like Peter Drucker’s best, I found it profound. We can forget that business itself is profound, the intended happy medium of most modern collective endeavor. For authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of the Basecamp organizational management software-as-a-service, business is the expression of philosophy. They counsel practicing it humanely, moderately and deliberately.

They establish authority with a first shock, an obvious idea you’ve almost certainly not thought of yourself: that a company should be considered a product, its employees the users. In fact this is a framing analogy for the entire book; like Nietzsche’s preface to Beyond Good and Evil positing that we suppose Truth be a woman, it throws wide open our thinking on our subject.

Another shock: they advise eschewing goals: “You don’t need something fake to do something real.” How shatteringly refreshing is that! Especially since my previous book was John Doerr’s Measure What Matters, which is all about goals. I had been excited for the Doerr book, but couldn’t finish it due to the sterile-speak of the case studies, which — unwarrantedly perhaps — undercut my faith in the concept. In contrast, Fried and DHH have the clear bracing style of successful coding entrepreneurs. This helps overcome the natural worry that going goal-less means a descent into hedonic anarchy, instead what they seek is appropriateness and authenticity. That said, I wonder whether this is the idea they’re most likely to step back from in future.

A third novelty seems downright crazy: they advocate not selling licenses by the seat, but by the organization. “It doesn’t matter if you have 5 employees, 50, 500, or 5,000 — it’s still just $99/month total. You can’t pay us more than that.” They leave this money on the table as part of deliberately designing the culture of their company (see the first idea); they don’t want to be dependent on a few large customers, nor create an internal cultural schism between serving small business and enterprise.

Similarly, they decided to stop accepting checks for payment just because it was a hassle, which did lose them some customers. This however is a less controversial notion, akin to Apple removing older technologies from new products despite their still being in widespread use and absorbing the hue and cry.

The authors also believe that the American-inspired work ethic of long hours is counterproductive and inhumane. Having worked at an Israeli software services giant I’m in agreement here too; at Amdocs if you went home after a mere 9 hours in the office you were perceived to be not pulling your weight (and, in my case, eventually laid off). And when I was temporarily attached to teams for international business trips, it seemed that all the team leaders were either divorced or in the process of becoming so.

Some of the authors’ values only apply to their particular industry. They make a claim for good enough rather than perfectionism — this is fine when your product is web-based software where one can churn out a fix at little cost, but not for many other high-value products such as cars.

In my small own small way I already practice much of what the authors preach. My only qualm is that while I love their philosophy, I’ve never much liked Basecamp itself.

Sunday, July 26th, 2020

Monday, July 13th, 2020

Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth

John Doerr

♦♦

I stopped reading John Doerr’s Measure What Matters some halfway through because I couldn’t take any more of the stilted archaic business-speak in the case studies. And because the ideas presented — barring the occasional mild insight — seemed too obvious.

The two insights of value to me: that sub-goals, what Doerr terms the Key Objectives (I think — I still have to keep referring back — nope, it’s Key Results), should be an artful balance between quality and quantity. And that despite the importance of results tying in to objectives and thereby be set top-down, some lassitude should be allowed for results to be set bottom-up.

The book could have benefited from having its ideas framed in terms of the Tao, since everything here is in complementary pairs — even the duality of overarching goal and its constellation of objectives. Instead we have an acronym OKR that still didn’t help me remember the two simple constituent terms.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Amalgamated from a dialog in the comments at a Marginal Revolution post “How to Live in a World Gone Mad?”:

The mob is saying silence is violence. Funnily enough, the mob also says speech is violence. They also say violence is not violence.

Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

The comfort of having an organization is largely illusory; it still comes down to one programmer in the end.

Jordan Mechner, The Making of Prince of Persia

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

The eleven days in question are 12th–23rd March. Eleven days in which the [UK] government decided to give up with contact tracing and do, well, nothing. Mass gatherings were still allowed (because “science”). Concerts and racing and Champions’ League football. Pubs. Public transport. Everything. The over-70s, it must be conceded, were advised to avoid cruises.

Sunday, March 1st, 2020

Venkatesh Rao’s Into the Yakverse is just too disgustingly awesomely good. Think the tone of David Goldman’s visits to Cardinal Richelieu, along with the cynical wit of top Armando Iannucci satire, and the light momentum of an Eliyahu Goldratt business novel.

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.

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Peter Drucker

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.

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 5th, 2019

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

Venkatesh is a treasure, what with his “Jonathan Livingstone Corporation” on solving not for money but aliveness.

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

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.

“Service Design 101”, a primer by the Nielsen Norman Group.

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

From 2014: The Economist introduces us to Sebastian de Grazia’s 1962 Of Time, Work and Leisure. Increasingly, leisure is not for the rich but for the poor.

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products

Leander Kahney

♦♦♦♦

In what seems a common pattern, Jony Ive started early, eschewing the liberal education of say Oxbridge, instead selecting the most renowned college in the field in which he was already winning prizes: industrial design. And this great achiever of our times grew up under the happy and mighty influence of his father, an educator who rose to prominence due to character and a drive to bring design literacy to British education.

The bulk of this book about Ive constitutes one of the stronger, more detailed histories we have of Apple itself, told mainly from the perspective of the IDg, the internal design group he leads. We learn for instance that in order to meet Steve Jobs’ deadline for creating the iMac — the first product upon Jobs’ return and which revived the company — they needed to streamline the product process by making the files of the design software interoperable with those of the manufacturing software.

Someone says Ive is even less replaceable at Apple than Jobs. This isn’t quite fair because Jobs worked to make himself replaceable. Let’s hope Ive does as well.

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

Inside Apple

Adam Lashinsky

♦♦♦

Engagingly written albeit disappointingly somewhat thin, the useful angle here is how Apple differs from conventional wisdom.

Secrecy, even internally, is paramount; it helps alleviate internal politics and keep people focused. There is little internal promotion, taking seriously the Peter Principle. Unlike the rest of Silicon Valley, perks are minimal; working at Apple is the perk.

A product of its time (2012) and of the author’s lack of access, the book is marred at the end by pessimistic obsession with Apple’s viability post-Jobs, but is nonetheless ultimately worth reading because it does convey an impression of what Apple is like.

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

When Google analysed their hiring, they were surprised to find that “among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last.” Instead, “The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills.” One smart commenter points out that since everyone will have the STEM skills anyway, these other things are the only differentiators.

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Value-Driven Business Process Management

Peter Franz & Mathias Kirchmer

♦♦♦

Enlarging on their idea that 80–85% of process improvements come from just 15–20% of processes, the authors argue that organizations must institutionalize BPM like other now-standard departments such as accounting and human resources.

They explain the mission of such a department (effective organization-wide process improvement), the goals (to determine which processes to focus on and which techniques to use for each) and the method (a series of rubrics for evaluating).

Important though the book clearly is in the field, for me it was a slog; the prose is not crisp and the examples seem vapid — though it’s likely that for a reader more versed in the practice they would come more alive. The book does get more quotable and unabashedly enthusiastic towards the end.

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Real-Life BPMN: With introductions to CMMN and DMN

Jakob Freund, Bernd Rücker

♦♦♦♦

With their years of experience as business process management consultants—and now vendors—the authors choose “real-life” as their approach, explicating their own methodology for delivering BPM projects. This book serves as invaluable guidance for newer practitioners.

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Trump: The Art of the Deal

Donald Trump with Tony Schwartz

♦♦♦

This chatty, self-serving, very likeable book is arguably necessary reading today, now that the man has climbed to the pinnacle of life.

In buying the Commodore Hotel in midtown Manhattan, his first major success, he had to juggle getting the money from the bankers and permission from the city (though the book’s account glosses over the help he received from his father calling in favors). Each step forward with one party in the deal encouraged progress with another party. This iteration seems to me a fundamental part of the art of the deal: aiming higher than seems reasonable, bringing multiple parties to something they would never have come to otherwise, then inching forward by presenting progress with one party to another party to create confidence, iterating until everyone is aboard.

A must-read coda to the book is the July 2016 New Yorker article with the equally-billed ghostwriter Tony Schwartz wherein Schwartz expresses huge concern about the man he knows well.

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Words of wisdom from Jacques Mattheij: How to Improve a Legacy Codebase (for the computer geeks only).

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Anti-fragile: Things that Gain from Disorder

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

♦♦♦♦♦

I’ve been listening to the Commentary Magazine podcast lately, enjoying John Podhoretz’s knowledgeable and intelligent monologues, even if regularly exasperated by their ideological blinkers. This week their discussion reeked of black swan events but they fumbled around for the logic that applies. It was obvious that none of the three speakers had read any Nassim Nicholas Taleb, otherwise they would have had the framework and could have moved on. That made them seem ignorant. Which makes you realize these books are seminal. Yes there are irritations, but perhaps these will fade from a more distant perspective. There are echoes here of the iconoclastic spirit of Nietzsche — can there be higher praise?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

The illusion that we understand the past fosters overconfidence in our ability to predict the future.

Daniel Kahneman

Monday, April 11th, 2016

There’s nothing worse than organized disorder.

Irit Levy

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

The Practice of Management

Peter F. Drucker

♦♦♦♦

Talk about a dent in the universe! This classy Cold War tome cuts it open to demand space for a new thing: management. The universe complied.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

According to Michael Schrage in “Whether You’re Qualified Depends on How You’re Quantified”, being a paid-up participant in the Quantified Self movement will soon be a requirement for getting a decent job. “Best-in-class performers are relentlessly dedicated to measurable self-improvement,” he writes. “Consequently, they relentlessly self-quantify.”

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

“On the Festival of Freedom, we are taking an important step toward energy independence,” the Prime Minister’s Office announced, as Israel’s Mediterranean natural gas fields turn online (FT registration required).

index topics management management

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)

Sunday, June 4th, 2023

Interesting, seeing Ars Technica’s slant on Twitter’s handling of Matt Walsh’s What is a Woman because, like most tech blogs, they lean establishment/woke, and I’d expect some pushback in the comments. But instead the comments are far more supportive of The Current Thing than is the piece itself, and quite a few condemn the author and the publication for irresponsibly posting a link to the film. Here’s one right-thinking gem by mikesmith (8y, 3,207 comments):

The next time a right-wing weirdo confidently declares that the definition of “woman” is inexorably linked to their genitalia ask them how many genitals they’ve personally inspected to be sure about it since they’re so confident.

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

Hugh Howey, author of Wool, the book(s) behind Silo, writes:

I believe future historians will look back and recognize the 1950s or thereabout as the time that we should’ve instituted a universal basic income.

Science-fiction writers are best-positioned to have something worthwhile to say about society — though that’s perhaps a tautology; he’s not just supporting a policy, but speculating at which point in time it ideally should have been enacted!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2023

In his Mr Smart Everyman way, John Gruber speaks to the eternal tags vs folders topic in this interview with the maker of a new Mac gmail client. I was shouting to the speaker though that folders aren’t just for the technically weak; they are a specific type of tag and are nestable, something that tags traditionally are not.

Monday, May 29th, 2023

How much has Microsoft changed really? Well, they’re doing unexpected things, but maybe they always did that. Here’s something cool from CB Insights on the Microsoft underwater data center from December 2018:

In 2016, Microsoft’s cloud-related patent application activity was twice that of Amazon and nearly 6x more than Google.

One example is Microsoft’s 2016 patent application for an Artificial Reef Datacenter. The patent is an iteration of a 2014 patent filed by Microsoft for a Submerged Datacenter.

In both patents, Microsoft looks to submerge data centers at the bottom of the ocean, which will cool the infrastructure naturally. In the earlier patent, Microsoft also outlined the possibility of using oceanic wind turbines to power the underwater data centers.

Since these patents were originally filed, Microsoft has begun work on Project Natick, an underwater data center off the coast of Scotland. The submerged data center runs on 100% locally produced renewable electricity from on-shore wind and solar as well as off-shore tide and wave sources.

But is this a PR stunt? There’ve been no Project Natick updates since July 9th, 2020. I suspect they just wanted to show the way for someone else to bother with the hard work, whom M$ would subsequently bend to their will by being their biggest customer.

Saturday, May 27th, 2023

The tone of this litany of complaints by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting author (and Orlando resident, I remember being told by a local taxi driver), reminds me of Victor Davis Hanson. I wonder on how many issue this ostensible leftist and rightist might actually agree.

Wednesday, May 24th, 2023

Some choice sentences regarding theses privileged medievalists blocking the way.

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

At The Ringer, Succession via the prism of Tom:

Along with a five-figure Patek Philippe watch, Tom delivers a joke to Logan: “It’s incredibly accurate. Every time you look at it, it tells you exactly how rich you are.” Unimpressed, Logan says, “That’s very funny. Did you rehearse that?” … While watching Macfadyen in that scene, [Adam] McKay recalls, [Jesse] Armstrong leaned over to him and said, “Well, I’m going to have to expand this character.”

Monday, April 24th, 2023

Increasingly, Dan Senor’s weirdly-named podcast Call Me Back is becoming my favorite due to frequent regular output on topics close to my heart with authoritative guests. This is Micah Goodman on the Israel protests. He’s more sympathetic than I am towards the elitist tantrums protests but has the perspicacity to step back and view things historically.

Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

In The Telegraph, A multi-faceted layman’s tour of the differences between the US and UK economies.

Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

You’re looking at a story originally written to the ExpressionEngine content management system (albeit originally drafted on the MarsEdit blogging client for MacOS), but the web software stack I’ve migrated to is Strapi + Nuxt connected via GraphQL. With Strapi’s move from v3 to v4 however, significant changes have been made to how GraphQL is served, so much so that after reviewing things I am likely going to stick to v3, which is a first step in abandoning a software package completely. Some discussions by irate developers:

The Strapi team justifies the change by arguing that they are following the JSON:API standard but the numerous complaints point out how verbose this gets for queries that have deep nesting, with “data.attributes” all over the place.

Thursday, April 20th, 2023

Walter Russell Mead launches a new column in Tablet focused on American affairs domestic rather than foreign.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2023

In this tutorial by Martin Fowler for coding with ChatGPT, he interviews Xu Hao, who first tells the AI what tech stack he’s using, what the project is intended to be, and to generate not code but a list of tasks required to build it. He then tweaks this task list. And only then, working from the task list, do they begin generating code.

My take away from this discussion was that using chain of thought and generated knowledge prompting approaches can be a significantly useful tool for programming. In particular it shows that to use LLMs well, we need to learn how to construct prompts to get the best results. This experience suggests that it’s useful to interact with the LLM like a junior partner, starting them with architectural guidelines, asking them to show their reasoning, and tweaking their outputs as we go.

Monday, April 10th, 2023

Victor Davis Hanson is perhaps merely stating the obvious regarding America’s decline.

Sunday, April 9th, 2023

In his great book Where Is My Flying Car? author J. Storrs Hall suggests that perhaps the best way to measure the wealth of nations is in how much energy people in each country use. In a recent article at comparison site ElectricRate on the cost of electricity around the world, the table labeled “Percentage of Day’s Wages Needed to Buy Electricity” is perhaps an even better measurement. #1 is Norway, #3 is the USA, and Israel and the UK are #10 and #12.

Sunday, April 2nd, 2023

“The AI does not love you, nor does it hate you, and you are made of atoms it can use for something else.” — Eliezer Yudkowsky in Time

Tuesday, March 28th, 2023

What a mindblowing, humbling project: infinitemac.org — every Mac system since January 24th, 1984, in the browser!

At the Tikva Podcast, a national treasure, the fiercely smart Yehushua Pfeffer on the Haredi moment.

A couple of worthwhile recent podcast episodes: Dan Senor on Israel at the Commentary podcast and Kevin Kelly at Russ Robert’s EconTalk [both links via Overcast].

Saturday, March 25th, 2023

Woke:

  • its core demand: are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?
  • describes the ongoing cultural revolution which defines reality by its usefulness in achieving left-wing goals

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Israel and the UK have signed the 2030 Roadmap for UK-Israel Bilateral Relations. (Why oh why in the Vision section is there a comma before “signed”? Why the terrible digitized “two” in “as 2 innovation and technology leaders…”. And I really detest this recent UK-ism: “We are clear that democratic norms are…” — no, people are not clear that anything.)

Regarding the Abraham Accords, “the UK joins Israel in acknowledging [their] historic significance … which have the potential to enable profound advancements for security, co-existence, prosperity and peace for the region and its peoples.” Given Britain’s ties with the Gulf, it would be great if she dive in and actually catalyze things further.

And, stuck enthusiastically at the end of a paragraph on health cooperation: “Our ambition for closer, mutually beneficial ties is limitless.” Heartening!

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

Dean of American foreign policy Walter Russell Mead has lately abandoned his on-the-other-handism — to wit, the stentorian moral tone of his book Arc of a Covenant and its politely scathing attack on Mearsheimer and the like. In his latest Wall Street Journal piece, “Netanyahu’s Bid for a Role in Zionist History”, WRM casts his lot, characterizing Israel’s protests as rear-guard snobbery and prejudice, and ending with the audacity of hope that Bibi will find a way out of the current conundrum by means of sagacity beyond that even of Ben-Gurion.

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

Gadi Taub and Peter Berkowitz on the Israeli moment. Whereas Taub thinks the opposition must make the next move, Berkowitz (and also Sharansky) thinks the government must reach across the aisle since it’s the one in power.

Monday, March 13th, 2023

Friday, March 10th, 2023

In Rome, Netanyahu speaks to La Repubblica. “What we can do is protect our freedoms,” he says, “using force if necessary, for as long as possible…” This is the second time in recent weeks I’ve heard the great man introduce this concept of existence as temporary. Not that it’s not true, but it’s unusual to hear a national leader speak that way. Intimations perhaps of his own mortality. Anyway, I love that he is coming with a vivid clear ask: Roma, recognize Yerushalayim.

In Mosaic Magazine, the redoubtable Evelyn Gordon lays out the issue of Israel’s judicial reform.

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Seems like great news, Israel’s government and opposition reaching a compromise over judicial reform.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

What a vile and unserious letter to Binyamin Netanyahu from members of the Entebbe commando squad. They write:

You compared us to those who carried out the pogrom in Huwara, and your son, who has not held a rifle in his life, calls us ‘terrorists’…

Perhaps I’m touchy about this because a friend recently dismissed my view on Israeli matters because when we served in the IDF some over 30 years ago he was in a combat unit and I was not, but really, does Yair Netanyahu’s military service or lack thereof belong in a serious discussion on national affairs? They go on:

You called us ‘conditional Zionists.’ You, whose father, left Israel in 1939 and returned only in 1949 when the Independence War ended. And then a second time left the country in 1962 and returned after his son fell [in Entebbe].

Now after insulting his son they’re after his father. Never mind that the senior Netanyahu was also the father to the son Yoni whom they valorize earlier in the letter…

Just pitiful.

The increasingly indispensable Michael Doran points out that:

If the goal of the Biden administration were to work with Israel to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, then Nides would either avoid any intervention whatsoever in Israeli domestic politics, or he would urge Lapid publicly to put forth practical proposals that could lead to a constructive compromise. Nides has demonstratively done neither.

Sunday, March 5th, 2023

Prof. Nir Keidar, legal historian and President of Sapir College, appears on the predictably leftist podcast The Tel Aviv Review ostensibly to discuss his book David Ben Gurion and the Foundation of Israeli Democracy but the conversation is mostly about today’s judicial reform, and he is reasonable and helpful.

Natan Sharansky exemplifies fair-mindedness and balance on the judicial reform bills despite some rather outraged prompting by old colleague and Times of Israel founding editor David Horowitz.

One side says it won the elections [and can do whatever it wants]. And the other side believes that it doesn’t need to enter a dialogue [over the proposals] because it can get them canceled through demonstrations, through mobilization, by utilizing the denunciation that we are becoming a dictatorship, and that if it enters negotiations on this or that paragraph, it would be accepting the principle [of the need for judicial reform], and it doesn’t accept the principle. So I’m really concerned by the lack of willingness to negotiate from both sides.

Saturday, March 4th, 2023

As interviewed by Netael Bandel in Israel Hayom, Professor Yoav Dotan opposes judicial activism:

The High Court took the accepted understanding of reasonableness – intervening when a government authority harms the citizen in an absurd and capricious manner – and turned it into something else entirely. Everyone must be reasonable, the government and the prime minister, except that they always think they are acting reasonably. The court’s reasonableness approach states that the government will balance its own considerations and that the court will reverse-engineer the government’s determination. In effect, the court becomes a second government that oversees the elected government, and in instances that have no bearing whatsoever on personal liberties.

David Goldman, back on form, untangles Türkiye’s high-wire new stratagems that leverage its centrality every which way. But I don’t know, this all seems too clever by half and could unravel fairly instantly.

By the way, for ages Goldman was talking about how Türkiye was collapsing and becoming a vassal state to China. But of course, course-corrections happen among the living. For me as someone who believes Goldman is pretty prescient, it’s reassuring that he updates his views.

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

In 1987 I attended a Telluride Association Summer Program. In 2020 I was shocked to read that in the wake of the George Floyd protests, Telluride had limited its TASP offerings to “Critical Black Studies” and “Anti-Oppressive Studies” seminars. In this article, Vincent Lloyd, a black professor who had taught at a TASP in the past, relates how he was cancelled by the students. The irony would be delicious if the seeming disintegration of American largesse and leadership in education were not sad and scary.

Via Paul Graham, who chose Gerald Ford’s portrait as his favorite, “every american president, but they’re all cool and they all sport a mullet” by Cam Harless.

Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! The Goodfellas address climate change. Niall Ferguson complains about, just as I see it, the opportunity costs — and also the mental health toll on the young. John Cochrane complains that no cost/benefit analysis is being applied to climate change policy. And Bjorn Lomborg specifies what those opportunity costs are, listing demonstrably better ways to invest in human betterment. How wonderful it would be if everyone seriously considered the contents herein.

It’s over too quickly, these two great alliterative-entitled Americans in conversation, Alan Alda and Kevin Kelly on AA’s Clear+Vivid podcast. Alda has such a gracious voice, and Kelly’s meets it. Kelly introduces some novel standpoints, earning his “world’s most interesting man” Tim Ferris monicker. The impetus and much of the conversation revolves around AI chatbots.

A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion

Tom Segev

♦♦♦♦

Just as author Tom Segev relates that Ben-Gurion increasingly harked back to the episodes that shaped him in his earlier life, so too are these episodes more vivid to us than later ones. This would be fine and even impressive as a literary gambit, having the reader feel about Ben-Gurion’s life the way Ben-Gurion himself did, but at least for this reader it was somewhat disappointing in that it’s the later events — founding and leading the State of Israel — that we are reading for. But again, this too may be a literary achievement, suggesting that for the subject of this biography, it was the younger man’s experiences that were important — and that by extension this is the case for all lives. But I’m not sure that’s accurate; surely the ambitious younger Ben-Gurion would have been overjoyed at the eventual achievements of his later self.

It’s a strange complaint to make, but I feel this book wasn’t long enough; each of the many episodes, particularly the later more historic ones, I felt could have withstood more detail.

I was pleased to learn of Ben-Gurion’s erratic behavior and attitude towards his family, and of his penchant for travel and mild but somewhat constant womanizing, and his growing intellectualism alongside faddishness. Segev concludes that Ben-Gurion’s philosophical disposition is basically that of Anglo-American liberal; all to the good. Almost. The implication is that this temperate poise made him the wise indispensable man, but also open him to more exciting dead-end intellectual enthusiasms.

Friendships, sex, religious relations, despair — the richness of the subject matter’s life encourages in the reader a life in politics as it’s a life in full.

Sunday, February 26th, 2023

Two masters: Walter Russell Mead interviews Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Hertog Forum. The context is their respective recent books, The Arc of a Covenant and Bibi — each is most gracious about the other’s.

One jarring note is that a couple of questions before the end, Bibi ends an answer with “Thank you,” as if ending the interview there and then. Am I imagining that? WRM however is having none of it; the next question is about Putin, which Bibi refuses to answer (the only such response — earlier I think perhaps there’s an inkling even he’s said a little too much). Instead of wilting, WRM asks him another question, then at some point chooses a judicious moment to end.

WRM says at the beginning that it’s intimidating interviewing Bibi, but if he is truly intimidated he does not let on, and his plummy slow delivery belies that.

And WRM gets the closing word, sealing Bibi’s masterful survey beautifully. I just wish WRM looked after himself a bit more physically — he’s a national, no, civilizational treasure, and it would be a shame to lose him prematurely. Bibi in contrast looks well-sprung, the hands wonderful.

Monday, February 20th, 2023

Israel and the UAE have unveiled a jointly developed unmanned maritime vessel, Globes reports. Abraham of Ur would be pleased.

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

I’m Bing, and I know the date. ????. Perhaps I’m missing something, but surely: Fuck M$, and fuck $A?

Monday, February 13th, 2023

In “Overmatch”, Michael Doran and Can Kasapoğlu perfectly explicate the growing peril of America’s posture in the Middle East. If NATO was designed to keep the Americans in, the Germans down and the Russians out, the Obama/Biden approach to the Middle East seems hell-bent on getting America out, the Iranians up, and the Chinese in.

Like marriages gone sour and houses in Malibu, international orders erode gradually at first and then all at once. News of the demise of the American order in the Middle East is certainly premature, but the ground beneath it is shifting in very unsettling ways that American policymakers appear determined to ignore.

Thursday, February 9th, 2023

I never thought to google it, but once upon a time in the 1980s I made a nice speech in public speaking class at the American International School on the Nacirema. Turns out back in 1956 it had been a prank academic paper, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner in American Anthropologist, as this article JSTOR Daily article “The Long Life of the Nacirema” reminds us.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

What a tweetstorm by Hussein Aboubakr Mansour, self-styled “grand cultural architect of the post-Palestine Middle East”, on the main issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the Leftist notion that first-world colonization justifies any behavior. Israel’s contribution, he notes, is that we “accept the Palestinian self-dehumanization as the ontological truth of the Palestinians: final, exclusive, and irreversible, and not as humans who are trapped into a terrible story made up by generations of mad intellectuals and sadistic tyrants.” Perfetto.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

Great to see that this post about a mural in Nazareth memorializing the heroes of the Iranian uprising is met at the NewIran subreddit with only sympathetic and grateful comments.

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Monday, January 16th, 2023

And now for something completely different, ie nice and civilized: John Mount’s article “Good Stationery as a Tool of Thought”.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

genders.wtf is an outstanding use of this thing we call the World Wide Web. It’s nice that it takes a hot divisive topic and makes it genuinely human and funny.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

Finally, Congress will pass a resolution expressing solidarity with and support for Iran’s protesters.

Senior Saudis tell an American delegation they are ready for normalization with Israel, but first they want normalization with the United States, writes JINSA’s John Hannah in The Jerusalem Post after the visit.

 
 

•••

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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