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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.

•••

About

Briefs

Thursday, October 5th, 2023

From the Center for Peace Communications, a thinktank led by Dennis Ross, this amazing litany of regional grassroots cooperation with Israel.

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.”

index topics management management

Israel–Iran Proxy War, Day #50

Midway through the hostage deal and ceasefire are two concerns: will the ceasefire become permanent, letting Hamas remain in place? And on what basis does US support for the war rest and will it continue?

Simchat Torah War, Day #17

The US sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, Israel postponed its ground incursion, and the Western media acknowledged its erroneous reporting.

Arab Insanity Pull-up

What shame, to have degraded with one’s own madness such benevolent standards as civil aviation, human rights — even non-combatant status in war.

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)

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Cool, calm, collected, and with casually brilliant staging. IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi provides the official Israeli miltary speech in response to the massive Iranian missile attack.

Amidst all this it’s a happy thought that Germany sold Israel a doomsday device (Dolphin subs) and a couple of decades later Israel is selling Germany an anti-doomsday device. Ben-Gurion and Adenhauer.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

OK I need to stop reading the news, but one more, this diatribe in Arutz7:

To me, the word “State” has demeaning connotations in the English speaking world. What other country on this planet is referred to and refers to itself as the State of…….? To be referred to as a “State” implies a not quite equal status with other nations, implying some benevolent authority has graciously bestowed a degree of autonomy to Israel. It is time that Israelis and Diaspora Jews refer to Israel as Israel, period.

I see no need to take issue with the term “state”; we are in good company with the United States of America. Like them we explicitly acknowledge the legalistic framework within which the American and Israeli peoples live at liberty. There may even be some positive connotations; we live now in a state of Israel, as opposed to the previous state. At any rate, many nationstates have political prefixes that are ignored and shortened to their national names: République française is just France, for example, and the State of Israel is usually referred to as just Israel.

Giora Eiland’s commentary on Channel 12 last night warranted its own story this morning on Arutz7, with him arguing that the response to Iran’s attack should be to focus on Lebanon.

Israel does not need to attack in Iran. There is no reason for it, and it has the potential to become complicated militarily, as well as regionally and with all of our friends – and the achievement will not be significant, regardless. If you want to put Iranians in their place and maybe even test them – there are two other arenas: One is in Syria.

There is merit here, though I think his suggested mechanism, to announce Israel’s return to the North for the school year, is fatuous. Both the low- and the high-level attacks from Hamas and Iran respectively point to a response aginst the mid-level main threat from Lebanon. Even if it doesn’t happen visibly — Bibi’s response seems to be to keep things simple and retaliate against actual perpetrators — it does feel like the appropriate true focus.

Kudos to Britain’s Daily Mail for publishing the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ piece “Why Israel’s failure to strike back at Iran could lead to NUCLEAR WAR by FDD’s chief exec Mark Dubowitz and senior fellow Jacob Nagel.

Israel was acting well within the rules of its dangerous neighborhood by taking out [Mohammad Reza Zahedi, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon]. But the Ayatollah responded with a potentially catastrophic barrage on Israeli civilians, military bases and government facilities. If Iran walks away from this moment without paying a severe price, Tehran may be emboldened to deploy its weapons again. And the next time, these drones and missiles may be armed with nuclear or chemical payloads.

Their conclusion is indisputable and anything else is either appeasement or overthinking.

Monday, April 15th, 2024

Wonderful piece in Commentary by Seth Cropsey (I jumped to the family name and he is indeed the son of University of Chicago scion Joseph Cropsey) ““American Strategy on the Brink” that really gets to the heart of the matter”: The United States is shirking its responsibilities on the world stage:

All three instances of ongoing violence [Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan] stem fundamentally from a crisis in American power. These theaters are afire because Washington refuses to recognize what it is—the center of a loosely democratic system that spans Eurasia and the Americas. Culturally and strategically, the Rimland is being punished for the blindness at its core.

From “Israel’s Splendid Isolation” by John Podhoretz in Commentary:

Jews literally did not have the means or the ability to defend themselves for more than two millennia. Now we do. And when we do, we become unnerving. The very phrase “Jewish army” was, since 70 C.E.., the definition of an oxymoron. Now it conjures up something powerful, and the fact that it’s powerful at all means for many that it’s far too powerful. When Israel acts in its own defense, it alienates these people and these nations. And thereby “isolates” itself.

I can say it with confidence: I love you jpod.

Writing brief essays now on X, Victor Davis Hanson lists Ten Ways to Guarantee a Theater-wide War:

Vapid “Don’t!” … Abruptly pull out of Afghanistan … Chinese spy balloon … [okay a] “minor” invasion [of Ukraine] … Seem eager to resume the Iran Deal …

Etc.

Monday, April 8th, 2024

This Dearborn crowd musters up a “Death to America” chant (though the speaker to his credit doesn’t say it). Stupid fucks.

Rice cultures around the world do tend to exhibit similar cultural characteristics, including less focus on self, more relational or holistic thinking and greater in-group favoritism than wheat cultures.

The last time I came across this sort of diet-based sociology was in Nietzsche, where it struck me as both significant and true while feeling outlandish and ridiculous when repeated. So it’s nice to see it treated academically. Here’s one bit in Nietzsche, Aphorism #134 in La Gaya Scienza (he probably mentions it elsewhere too):

Pessimists as Victims. When a profound dislike of existence gets the upper hand, the after-effect of a great error in diet of which a people has been long guilty comes to light. The spread of Buddhism (not its origin) is thus to a considerable extent dependent on the excessive and almost exclusive rice-fare of the Indians, and on the universal enervation that results therefrom.

I enjoyed this very nice primer on editing by Eva Parish. Of her 9 recommendations, the one I fall down on most in my own occasional scribblings is “Be aware of your tone”, which is actually quite an expansive, non-technical problem. I guess I try to mix up the high and low due to insecurity that I’m a bore and aim to jolt and amuse the reader awake — but Eva argues that the mix is confusing and distracting.

I think however she is wrong to restore commas after prefixing subordinate clauses. Her examples:

Example: If you’re looking for me I’ll be in my office.
Revision: If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in my office.
Example: Due to the fog our flight was delayed.
Revision: Due to the fog, our flight was delayed.

My take instead: if the sentence is unambiguous without the comma then lean towards omitting it. Especially with the second example, with the clause being only four syllables long, the comma slows down the reader so much that the music of the sentence is broken. “Fog our flight” cannot be misinterpreted — nobody thinks of fogging a flight. Indeed the lack of a comma foretells to the reader they can confidently plow ahead through a well-tended sentence.

Her admonition to avoid the vague “this” — is new to me or else I’d forgotten it from The Little Red Schoolhouse, even though it fits very much into the Schoolhouse’s insistence of chaining sentences together nicely, and I will keep it in mind.

Via Hacker News, this Chrome for Developers post dives into browser colors beyond RGB.

Saturday, April 6th, 2024

He’s very good, is Brendan O’Neill, and I’m glad The Spectator is publishing him. “The Truth About Friendly Fire”:

Across social media, the cry goes up: Israel did this on purpose. It seems Israel is the only state not allowed to make mistakes. Where us decent Westerners kill friends in error, Israel does it intentionally, with malice at its heart.

Who would have thought this would be published in such a well-known British magazine. There is hope.

It seems that some in the West are seeking to launder their reputations through attacking Israel. From Cameron to Biden, powerful men who have been involved in wars far more horrific and far less justified than Israel’s war on Hamas, are now pontificating against the Jewish State.

But their finger-wagging attempt at rehabilitating their own reputations by slighting others’ — and hang the risk even unto civilization itself — does burnish at least one aspect of their respective reputations, ie being a sleazeball.

Thursday, April 4th, 2024

How gratifying, the plethora of common-sense comments reacting to this rather less-than-sensible Telegraph story “How international law could force Britain to stop arms sales to Israel” which furthers the tradition of latching on to that weird and mealy-mouthed “plausible” ruling by the ICJ.

Was this the Court’s intent, to say something with plausible deniability so that the very many people who want it to have said a thing can act as if it did? I in turn am latching on to that possibility to accuse it all of being quite transparent, truly despicable, and dangerously corrosive.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

In Mosaic Magazine, a sweeping history of Israel v. Lebanon by Raphael BenLevi.

Israel’s geography currently provides it with reasonably defensible borders on three sides: the Mediterranean to the west, the Sinai Desert to the south, and the Jordan Valley to the east. Israel’s northern border, however, is not defined by a sea, a vast desert, or even a major river. Rather it is a man-made line that cuts through mountains, valleys, farms, and forests. This has been the case since antiquity, making the northern border of ancient Israel the hardest to defend.

The article mirrors one that I linked to from exactly three months ago on Gaza by Jean-Pierre Filiu in Foreign Affairs.

We all know that if these tattooed trustafarians who think men can breastfeed went anywhere near Gaza their pronouns would be was / were quicker than you could say ‘Free Palestine!’.

Brendan O’Neill, “The unbearable sanctimony of the ‘pro-Palestine’ set”

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024

In an interview with Israeli radio station 103fm, Yarden Pivko, daughter of Hamas hostage Itzik Gelertner, denounces the Kaplanistas hijacking the hostage crisis. Kudos to 103fm for airing this despite their and all media-luvvy institutional sympathy for Kaplanism.

Sunday, March 31st, 2024

Good ep of Mike Doran and Gadi Taub’s allcaps ISRAEL UPDATE podcast “Is the US Stabbing Israel in the Back?”

It’s in The Guardian so you know what’s coming in this restaurant review of Freddie’s, a New York-style non-kosher Jewish deli, plus they telegraph it in the title, so that in falling for the clickbait I skip the whole salt-beef bit to the predictable meat of the thing:

For all my lack of faith or observance these dishes, kept alive by a vestigial memory of the shtetl, root me. Then I hesitated. Could I really write about a Jewish restaurant given the current political turmoil? Would I get abuse for doing so? Surely better to keep shtum. At which point I knew I had no choice: I had to write about it. The horrendous campaign of the government and armed forces of Israel in Gaza cannot be allowed to make being Jewish a source of shame. When Hamas mounted their 7 October attack on Israel, they committed both an atrocity and a provocation. With so many hostages taken, there were no good options for the Israeli government. Nevertheless, they managed to choose the very worst one. They have killed thousands, starved many more, destroyed homes and turned their country into a pariah. As it happens, they have also made life for Jews who live outside Israel and have no responsibility for the decisions its government takes, so very much harder. I deplore what Israel is doing. But that doesn’t mean I can “refute” my Jewishness. That is a surrender to antisemitism. And so I sit here with my terrific salt beef sandwich and my chocolate mousse, indulging that bit of my Jewish identity which makes sense to me. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.

As a British Israeli my reaction to this sort of thing is always a multi-level “ugh”. But having returned recently to my native Glasgow for a Jewish funeral, I was reminded of what I would likely have been if my parents hadn’t made Aliyah to Israel when I was a child — and moreover since I have now lived in the UK again for a long time is arguably what I have reverted back to being. (Noooooo!)

Nonetheless it’s hard for me to feel anything but contempt for people who stroke the tiger in the hope it will eat them last.

And yet I must understand that as people who are primarily Britons their prism is the BBC, and as right-thinking people it’s likely The Guardian and its ilk, so this is what they may actually believe. But is the reviewer truly speaking in good faith? He says Israel chose the very worst course of action but does not articulate what other better ones might have been. Write a very stroppy letter?

Also, if a sandwich is the extent of his Jewish identity, he’d probably do better shucking it off altogether and embracing something else more all-encompassingly. I don’t mean that disparagingly, but men are meaning machines and if he’s not getting much out of Judaism then it is occupying a space in his soul that could perhaps otherwise be more fruitfully filled.

Levantine Israel is such a monumental and cosmic gift — especially for the rain-soaked British Jew who must otherwise seek any anthropological depth in Druidism and sun in other countries such as Spain (a pretty fabulous alternative it’s true). So I think it is folly for a British Jew to not embrace that mainline connection to Israel; Britons have a passion for the Middle East and now Jewish Britons have their own ancient piece of it again.

But that is all very well when it was done for you as a child or if you are wealthy enough to maintain an additional home and travel frequently. But for most of us, as I was reminded at the funeral, we grow up and get up and go to work, lifelong dalliances with distant exotic countries way beyond reach. And even for those who have the means to have additional homes, the center of gravity of their psyche and viewpoint is British. I need to understand that about British Jews who did not make Aliyah, which is most of them.

On one hand, I can see how the current war unites Jews in their fate, while on the other I can see how the cleavage in the West between appeasement and struggle runs right down the middle of Diaspora Jewry.

With this return to protests the Kaplanistas have chosen to learn nothing, to refuse to acknowledge their part in contributing to the machdal of Oct 7. They think they are melach ha-aretz, the salt of the earth, but in fact serve as perhaps-not-so-unwitting secular neturei karta [Update 2024 April 6: via Gadi Taub, they’ve been dubbed Neturei Kaplan!], prepared like their nihilistic sociological counterparts the BLM supporters to try to blow up their own societies just to see what happens next. As such they are the very opposite of the responsible and the educated that they fancy themselves to be, and undermine the mamlachtiut they ostensibly are out to promote. They give succor and encouragement to the enemy whom they presume, in their relapse back to provincial Orientalism, has no agency. And there is the minor issue of giving the gleeful foreign media an easy way to further bash Israel. As they air their internal grievances to Sky News I hope for the sake of their souls they each feel a sickly yet potentially redemptive wonder of: “What the hell am I doing”.

Saturday, March 30th, 2024

Eichler’s personal Eichler in Silicon Valley is on sale. It’s great, like mid-level Wright and perhaps a bit of Neutra combined.

Friday, March 29th, 2024

Good to see Amos Atza-El, Mr Middle Israel as he self-declares, still at it, this time on Russia and how Putin’s romance with the Jihadis echoes Stalin’s with the Nazis.

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

The most awesome new pic of Fallingwater I’ve perhaps ever seen beyond the standard 3/4 view. This is by Andrew Pielage, who was an official Artist-In-Residence at the time. The viewpoint and the lighting give us each step’s full floating horizontality and their cumulative effect. I can imagine Mr Wright commending the image.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

One of the principal functions of a modern university is to provide… masses of human material capable of exercising the responsibilities while accepting the limitations of a bureaucratic career.

Walter Russell Mead, Twilight of the Wonks

Friday, March 22nd, 2024

Culture is cultural appropriation is culture.

ASK

Tuesday, March 19th, 2024

Bibi to AIPAC and Bibi with John Spencer, urban warfare historian. What a high-octane human.

Sunday, March 17th, 2024

From what looks like his regular chair in his cluttered leafy office, Dan Schueftan — or should we call him Dr Dugri — provides a primer on Israel (dugri meaning something like English’s plainspokenness or brass tacks).

Reading up on Schueftan however, despite all the sagacity he seems the intellectual architect of much of the present misery, having advocating for unilateral withdrawals.

In retrospect one might be able to guess that this would be the general thrust of his advice, given his mercurial impatient demeanor; and that he gets the listener’s acquiescence — perhaps in Ariel Sharon’s case against their better judgment — with his many “ok?”s.

Saturday, March 16th, 2024

What a splendid piece by Charles Moore in The Telegraph on Israel.

Britain (with other powers) claims that Israel has been, in international law, the “occupying power” in Gaza even after it left the place in 2005. This is a strange idea, since the definition of occupation is “effective control”, which Israel even now does not have over the whole of Gaza.

If their subscription department was a bit less shady I’d totally resubscribe.

The official rejoinder to Chuck Schumer’s “Lost His Way” speech, given within days of Nathan Glazer’s statement at the Oscars:

We stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.

comes not from the Israeli government but from the Likud Party, thereby demonstrating the very content of its statement: that Israel is indeed “an independent and proud democracy” complete with political parties proud of their heritage.

Benny Gantz made a commendable statement condemning the speech to which Arutz Sheva commendably dedicated a story. While the Likud’s statement is exquisitely-crafted English, Gantz’s is more Israeli — less catty, more direct: first unabashed fulsome praise, then: “but he made a mistake.” Blunt yet surgical. Lapid meanwhile chose to harness the speech to rail on Netanyahu.

We make such a fuss of all these bloviations even as the situation rages. I like the take by Danny Cohen, a producer on Glazer’s movie, who, as reported by The Hill, said on the Unholy podcast:

My support for Israel is unwavering. Listen, it’s his film. He can stand up there and choose his own words.”

Commentary reports for duty too.

Thursday, March 14th, 2024

The worst news I’ve seen in a while [Hebrew]: The head of a Gaza clan has been assassinated by Hamas for collaborating with Israel. We need to not be fuckups in this crucial endeavor: empowering, enabling and ensuring acceptable alternatives to Hamas is the capstone to victory; all the battlefield victories come to naught without it and we are back to square one alongside some demolished buildings and bereaved locals.

Wednesday, March 13th, 2024

Anti-Israel Jews are not a political but a clinical sub-category.

Edward Luttwak

Howard Jacobson, I didn’t know you had it in you. So there is such a thing as a well-known public intellectual British Jew with at least half a bollock.

Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

Campy? It’s bloody rocket fuel darling. Happy 50th, Queens White and Black.

Thank you, past and likely future Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in particular for this Twitter post in memoriam for Dennis Yekimov, killed in action in Gaza. That big wide intelligent friendly face, and in the biographical notes:

He would hike dozens of kilometers in streams and in the hills of Jerusalem and the whole country.

Younger, betters versions of myself, that is how I see these heroic guys, who have so much to lose and are willing to lose it, and are doing so in the hundreds.

Monday, February 26th, 2024

My impression is that R2-D2 and C-3PO were the Laurel and Hardy, the comedy relief, with one being the superior intellect and dominant personality, pushing around a more innocent friend.

Mark Hamill

Monday, February 19th, 2024

Forget a 2-state solution: emulate the Emirates! In English, Mordechai Kedar explains a political horizon to Arutz Sheva. Update: In the wake of Bibi’s outline for post-war Gaza announced just a few days later, Kedar seems prescient, so much so that either he has the Cabinet’s ear or was tasked to float the notion.

As Rumsfeld say, if you can’t fix problem, make it bigger. So what we’re going for is not a 2-state nor even a 3-state but an 8+ statelets solution! I wonder if the Biden Administration will grudgingly go along with this. You know what, I’m guessing they will. Viva la chamulot!

Wednesday, February 14th, 2024

Gadi Taub at his best, in Tablet, saying “Sorry, but There Is No Two-State Solution”.

As a sidenote, it’s getting harder to differentiate among the various competent public intellectuals in terms of style these days; this could have been written by any number of people — Seth Mandel for one, who seems to be writing everything in Commentary these days.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

Jeremiah Rozman:

I want a homeland, not a 22,000 sq. km. Yad Vashem … Victory will ensure both Israel’s security and its image.

Monday, February 12th, 2024

Jason Fried again, with an insight into Apple’s new Vision Pro that one important value proposition is recording:

What I think is super interesting about the Apple Vision Pro is the potential to be able to literally see through someone else’s eyes. Not just see their field of vision — you can get at that with head or eyeglass mounted cameras — but to actually see where they’re looking. To know what they’re focused on. To lock in with them. To see how they see. To watch them look from their point of view. Standing in someone’s shoes is one thing, but even if you could do that, you’d still be looking through your own eyes. But to literally see as they’d see from someone else’s point-of-view perspective feels groundbreaking. If I was making an app for this, I’d call it “See With”.

For the past few months I’ve retreated from working on a software product to, well, for a month after October 7th I didn’t seem to get much work done, then I was working on software systems for clients. Now dipping my toe back into RSSDeck, the biggest edifice I’ve ever created, I’m inspired by this short piece by Jason Fried, “To Make”:

I’ve consulted. I’ve done client work. I’ve advised. I’ve served on boards. I’ve invested. I’ve written books. I’ve spoken on the circuit. I’ve blogged for years. I have to say, I’ve found no greater professional joy than working with a tight group of people to ship and support our own products.

Amazing that it took until 2024 for a Hacker News discussion on Deep Springs given the two bodies’ attitudinal overlap of intellectual arrogance.

The New York Post has published a post by Mordechai Nisan advocating that Gazans leave. After October 7th this position — “transfer” in Israeli parlance — went from the extremist fringe to being I think the unspoken mainstream preference among Israelis.

The world power with the strongest ideological opposition to transfer — apart from the Arabs still wanting to keep it as a bludgeon against Israel — is probably the USA, as it seems to go against the American grain of self-determination for peoples. But if the West Bankers manage to make a go of it — highly unlikely but still — then former Gazans could always migrate there again eventually if the call to return remains strong.

Saturday, February 10th, 2024

Michael Freund responds nicely to David Cameron’s announcement that the UK is looking into recognizing the Palestinians as a state by looking at Britain’s own various occupations.

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

It’s so weird reading The Telegraph’s news feed of the day’s events because it reads like Iranian Press TV, full of Israel’s dastardly deeds. I guess it’s like The Wall Street Journal where there’s a real schism between the leanings of the so-called news division vs the editorial section.

Wednesday, February 7th, 2024

I must admit I knew almost none of this history of Gaza as narrated by Jean-Pierre Filiu in Foreign Affairs. After long staying clear I think I’ll look more closely at this magazine.

Gaza’s sudden new prominence should hardly come as a surprise. Although little of it is remembered today, the territory’s 4,000-year history makes clear that the last 16 years were an anomaly; the Gaza Strip has almost always played a pivotal part in the region’s political dynamics, as well as its age-old struggles over religion and military power.

As the recounting reaches the present day, no mention is made of the fundamental wound kept open: that Palestinian refugee status is uniquely passed down the generations.

It’s most discomfiting, seeing prominent Israelis self-lacerate in foreign journals. Here Aluf Benn of Haaretz, whom I previously admired before he took up its editorship and thereby become responsible for its seditious bile, writes in Foreign Affairs a piece entitled “Israel’s Self-Destruction”.

He opens with Moshe Dayan’s now much-recalled eulogy for Roi Rotberg of Nachal Oz. Very quickly however two items give me pause. First, Benn refers to “Netanyahu’s effort to undermine [Israel’s] democratic institutions and turn it into a theocratic, nationalist autocracy” — this is obviously a very partisan view of the judicial reform bill. Second, Benn writes: “If they finally heed Dayan’s warning, the country could come together and chart a path to peace and dignified coexistence with the Palestinians.”

Tellingly, Benn does not link to the actual text of Dayan’s short speech, which is much more about advocating for a Jabotinsky-like iron wall than State Department-esque “risks for peace”. Dayan in fact refers to foreign mandarins quite colorfully as “the ambassadors of malevolent hypocrisy who call upon us to lay down our arms” and bleakly concludes that Roi himself was blinded by the notion that peaceful coexistence — of the sort Benn is implicitly pushing for — is possible.

 
 

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experiments in refactored perception

  • The Dark Forest Anthology of the Internet

    My essay The Extended Internet Universe, where I coined the term “cozyweb” (probably in my top 5 most successful memes) is featured in this cute little collectible book, The Dark Forest Anthology of the Internet put together by Yancey Strickler (whom you may have heard of as the cofounder of Kickstarter). Yancey’s essay, The Dark Forest […]
  • Stack Map of the World

    I’ve been buried neck deep in work stuff this week, but I did find time to make this stack diagram of the world, inspired by the xkcd Dependency cartoon. Randall Munroe draws better than me, but in my favor, I use more colors. Did you know most of the high-purity quartz needed for the semiconductor […]
  • Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities by Bettany Hughes

    I started reading Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities by Bettany Hughes while I was in Istanbul last November and finally finished it last week. It’s a really solid and absorbing book, and far too dense and rich with detail to zip through, which is why I read it a dozen or so pages a […]