Monday, October 23rd, 2023
You gotta larf. On the same day that the BBC posts an article about marchers chanting “Jihad!” in London…
“Jihad” literally means “effort” or “struggle” in Arabic. In Islam the main meaning is an internal struggle, such as a believer’s struggle to live in accordance with their faith. Jihad can also be an outward struggle or war, which in Islamic teaching must be in self defence and within prescribed limits.
…National Review posts its lampoon of an academic’s apology “Sorry You Misinterpreted My Comments about Israel”, with notes such as:
It should be noted that, in Arabic, the word “massacre” has a different connotation than it does in English, denoting something akin to “an internal struggle to alter the religious composition of a geographical area.”
Tim Stanley at The Telegraph also has a go:
And what are we to make of those activists shouting for Jihad who[m] the Met declined to arrest because, according to its finest theologians, Jihad has “a number of meanings”? For me it suggests the name of a balmy port in Oman, of nights of perfume and satin, caressed by Arabian breezes. For others it means “kill all Jews” – and the inability to infer the bleeding obvious exposes a moral blindness in British society.
Thursday, October 19th, 2023
With some distaste I link to the BBC Verify page on Gaza’s Al-Ahli Hospital explosion (whatever the heck BBC Verify is, at any rate you’d think it would not be a separate thing from BBC News). I would wager that the link, currently 3rd on the BBC News homepage, will soon quietly disappear and this story will not be heard from until weeks or months from now, when it is acknowledged that the preponderance of evidence indeed points to an Islamic Jihad misfire. There’s no mention that the US Department of Defense has determined the explosion was “very unlikely” to be the result of Israeli action — arguably fair enough, the US is not above the fray. Yet not in the lede, nor at the beginning nor end of the article, does the closest text to a conclusion appear:
Three experts we spoke to say it is not consistent with what you would expect from a typical Israeli air strike with a large munition.
Rather, it is buried in paragraph 14 of 22, caveated by: “So far, the findings are inconclusive.”
As I write this, I remember that in even as a high schooler at the American School in Israel I was examining British press reports for media bias. I think I will stop now. But this example is especially important because it should make Westerners pause and note their eagerness to believe a false version of events put out by organizations their own governments have classified as terrorists, should the historic horrors of October 7th be leaving them with any doubt. It can affect whether or how much the person in the European living room trusts and supports Israel to do what it must in response to Hamas’s surprise attack.
Monday, August 14th, 2023
The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Metropolitan Elite
After realizing I am in complete agreement with whatever I’ve read by Michael Lind, I turned to his book The New Class War. Here Lind details how we got to the current dysfunction whereby the social order set in place after WW2 broke down during the 70s as a result of pressures from ideas from both the political left and right, leading to the majority losing power to the elites.
His fix is to reinstate democratic pluralism by re-establishing trade (guilds), local civic (wards) and religious (congregations) institutions and giving them power. But how to make that happen? Lind notes that historically only rivalry with another power has forced elites to re-enfranchise the majority, as it’s how to best marshal the nation to its fullest ability.
And indeed, there is something that might achieve this, a single issue around which the Left and Right, the majority and the elites, can agree on, which is that China must be contained.
Sunday, August 6th, 2023
Once again I link to Brendan O’Neill, Chief Political Writer at Spiked, a publication that increasingly seems to me just about the only sane and brave outpost out there. “The climate witch trials”, an excerpt from O’Neill’s new book A Heretic’s Manifesto, ingeniously frames climate orthodoxy within medieval witch hunts. Towards the end, O’Neill laments:
Since the 1960s, the intellectual classes have been pondering the ‘social construction’ of scientific truth. The Social Construction of Reality, by Peter L Berger and Thomas Luckmann, was published way back in 1966. French philosopher Bruno Latour was fawned over on campuses across the West for his theories on ‘the social construction of scientific facts’. Feminist philosopher Judith Butler thinks even biological sex is a social construct. Meanwhile, the cry goes up to ‘decolonise the science curriculum’, to weave ‘Indigenous Witch-Finding knowledge’ — an equally valid way of knowing, apparently — into scientific discussion.
Everywhere science is picked apart, dismantled, relativised, often in a way that undermines the entire project of scientific inquiry and its important search for knowledge. But climate-change science is never socially deconstructed. It is sacralised, made utterly unimpeachable, put beyond the grubby questioning of both the layman and the expert.
Friday, August 4th, 2023
Most of what is called “progressivism” today is really transgressivism.
Michael Lind, The Culture of Transgression
Thursday, August 3rd, 2023
At the Gatestone Institute by Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut, a tour de force survey of other nations while Israel suffers the calumny of being called a racist state.
Sunday, July 16th, 2023
“Amid all this madness it can be difficult to speak the truth about heatwaves. But we must try.” Brendan O’Neill hits it so well in “It’s a heatwave, not the end of the world”.
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 though to the JamBox, my BlueTooth speaker (OK no longer a Jawbone Jambox, rather a UE Boom 2, but I still call it the Jambox) 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.
Saturday, March 25th, 2023
- 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
Tuesday, March 14th, 2023
The comments section in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s YouTube video condemning anti-semitism is, even if massively repetitive, eye-opening. The ADL’s Hate on Display helps decode some of it.
Friday, January 6th, 2023
Pull up a chair, Bob Iger absolutely regales us for over an hour on the A16Z podcast.
Thursday, January 5th, 2023
At Charlie Hebdo’s brave beautiful #MullahsGetOut competition “every contestant won a place in hell”.
I’m sad to discover that Carol Gould, my father’s American neighbor and friend during his decade in London, died in late 2021. She wrote a concise memoir of her life and times in London, “42 years in Britain – 37 years in broadcasting”:
One of the most nerve-wracking broadcasts in which I ever participated was a two-hour special produced by [Iran’s] Press TV about Israel’s illegitimacy as a state, anchored by Alan Hart, a former ITN presenter. Though never substantiated we heard through the industry that his blatant anti-Semitism eventually led to his departure from ITV. This special was devised to illustrate that Israel was not a sovereign state, but illegitimate — a bantustan created by unwelcome Zionist invaders who used the Shoah as an excuse to displace and massacre Arabs who had lived there for centuries. … I tried to keep my cool and defend the aspirations of the Jewish people to have a homeland, going back to the era of the Dreyfus trial, Emile Zola, ‘J’accuse,’ Theodor Herzl and Ahad Ha’am, but the head of the Muslim Brotherhood UK got so angry at me that he fell off his chair in the front row of the audience and hit his head; the recording had to be suspended whilst we waited for him to be taken away in an ambulance.
Carol notes that she experienced much more anti-Semitism from conservatives than liberals in London.
Wednesday, January 4th, 2023
In The Algemeiner, Adam Levick takes the time to comprehensively Fisk a Sky News broadcast for children aired May 13, 2022 entitled “FYI: Special Report From Both Sides of The Wall”. It’s pretty egregious. I noticed a year or so ago that Sky News’s political slant had become pretty indistinguishable from the BBC’s.
This tweetstorm by Heshmat Alavi points out how the MSM glorified IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, no doubt at least partially because it was Bad Orange Man who ordered him killed. Most egregiously, MSNBC compares this methodical murderer to Princess Diana and Elvis Presley!
Friday, December 2nd, 2022
Kanye West is interviewed with his piece-of-shit sidekick-du-jour Nick Fuentes for almost 3 hours by Alex Jones. To me the worst swipe at human dignity here is the fishnet and chocolate milk as Netanyahu (“net” and “yahoo”). Even Alex Jones is squirming through this (“I’m not on the whole Jew thing”), at 51:30 telling the audience, “I’m your guest host here in insane asylum world” before hastily retreating as Kanye asks “Why are you pointing at me when you say that.” An opportunity lost to tell his deranged guest to just go home and get some rest and some help.
Friday, October 7th, 2022
Oh my, Walter Russell Mead joins Tyler Cowen for a rich brief hour, and they barely mention WRM’s new book Arc. While in print WRM can seem a bit mealy-mouthed, often it seems throat-clearing to not alienate those with whom he basically disagrees, here he comes out strong and hearty. And TC’s idiosyncratic method of firing off questions works with WRM because each one prompts such a rich answer that there’s little need for normal back and forth.
Friday, August 5th, 2022
The second most important country in the Western Alliance is almost detached from it, all by the apparently innocuous and meliorist actions of Germany’s peppiest environmentalists.
Conrad Black, Triumph of Davos Man
Thursday, July 21st, 2022
On Israeli Policy Pod, Ehud Yaari for the (more or less) hour. When asked who is the greatest of the many great men he met, he is unequivocal: Sadat.
Friday, June 10th, 2022
Good for him: the great Guy Zohar quickly demolishes a climate alarmist report on Israeli TV [Hebrew video]. From here in the UK, it puzzles me why Israel also jumps on the bandwagon of American neuroses. But everybody does it — we can’t just switch off what has until 5 minutes ago been a salutary cultural parent for over a century.
Thursday, April 14th, 2022
In an interview on Israel’s national broadcaster Kan, this is a fair-minded well-informed backgrounder on Temple Mount tensions.
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.
Thursday, January 20th, 2022
The most important Abraham Accords peace dividend so far: the beautiful Dubai, Dubai, Dubai by Israeli comedienne Noam Shuster-Eliassi. Israel’s biting satire — mocking Arabs and Israelis alike, and in Arabic leavened with Hebrew (or is it vice versa) — has more of a chance of freeing the Middle Eastern masses than in retrospect the US Armed Forces and State Department ever had. As Frank Herbert kind of say: he who control the comedy control the universe.
Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021
It’s sad but American national institutions are crumbling — that is to say, I’m not sure I fully trust David Brooks any more. In his report from his experience at the National Conservatism Conference he concludes:
There is something extremely off-putting about the NatCon public pose. In person, as I say, I find many of them charming, warm, and friendly. But their public posture is dominated by the psychology of threat and menace. If there was one expression of sympathy, kindness, or grace uttered from the podium in Orlando, I did not hear it. But I did hear callousness, invocations of combat, and whiffs of brutality.
His piece is for The Atlantic, which, while not as far into illiberal territory as The New York Times or The New Yorker, is on the way. So I can’t help but feel that he is toeing their editorial line, and that if the piece was say for the New Criterion, his tone would be friendlier towards the event.
This is sad to say, because if you can’t trust uncle Dave Brooks, who can you? Well, at least the title isn’t his; the word “terrifying” doesn’t appear even once within the article (though this is a talent who surely has the clout to have editorial control or at least strong influence over the titles of his pieces).
Update: More straightforwardly, Arnold Kling reaches a similarly worried conclusion and actually explains himself.
Update #2: 2021 Dec 19: Here’s Ross Douthat with mealy-mouthed support for NatCon2 and an excited Adam Ellwanger.
To my mind, the New Right needs to focus on and build upon modernity’s bedrock value: tolerance.
Sunday, November 14th, 2021
In The Telegraph, columnist Janet Daly hopes for a wake for Woke in The Telegraph:
Maybe it is the secret that explains why British life is not torn asunder by culture wars in the way that the United States so often is. Instead of taking up arms against the advancing guard of combatants who threaten to dismantle your social values, and fighting to the death (often literally) in the streets as Americans are inclined to do, the British take a softly-softly, appeasing tone — giving a bit here, offering a bit there to the angry mob, without ever losing their sense of irony. Until — almost without warning — the onslaught grows so overblown and overconfident that it becomes patently, stupidly, undeniably crazy, self-contradictory and, most important, risible.
Friday, October 8th, 2021
I had to read this snooty bit of exhibitionism at Gawker (must the devil have all the good web design?) slowly to keep track of what and whom the reader is supposed to consider virtuous versus vile. One through-line that helped was, like in a Hollywood movie, the bad guys have British accents.
Regarding the author’s complaint of British transphobia, one possible cause: due to cultural proximity and thirst, the Great Leap Forward emanating from the USA arrives first at Britain’s more grounded doorstep, with the resulting crockery-dropping rejection most clearly heard when ricocheting back across the pond.
Sunday, October 3rd, 2021
What a great piece on the dysfunctionality of online advertising at the now-defunct The Correspondent, “The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising”  by Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn.
Picture this. Luigi’s Pizzeria hires three teenagers to hand out coupons to passersby. After a few weeks of flyering, one of the three turns out to be a marketing genius. Customers keep showing up with coupons distributed by this particular kid. The other two can’t make any sense of it: how does he do it? When they ask him, he explains: “I stand in the waiting area of the pizzeria.”
Sunday, September 26th, 2021
The ruling class’s campaign regarding public health, global warming, race, the rights of women, homosexuals, micro-aggressions, the Palestinians, etc. etc. have far less to do with any of these matters than with seizing ever more power for itself.
Angelo Codevilla, “The Covid Coup”
Thursday, August 26th, 2021
The new Nike spin on “Just Do It,” is basically, “At Least You Tried.” Sports journalist Ethan Strauss launches a Substack newsletter.
Monday, July 26th, 2021
What is an entertainment company? Matthew Ball surveys the landscape, focused on Disney, and concludes they must reach into digital games.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2021
Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine
Antonio Garcia Martinez
As author Antonio García Martínez battles away as an eager newcomer at Facebook, his account jolts one awake to the somewhat forgotten power of literature: we are reminded that what will survive these times will likely not be the mammoth trillion dollar company but instead this book.
And shame on Apple, caving to those who campaigned to have Martinez fired recently from his new job there because of some gross and silly yet heartfelt generalization in the book of San Francisco womenfolk; such philistine snowflakes do little more than buttress his point, as well as forcing our author to remain up on these more commanding if perhaps less remunerative cultural heights.
Friday, June 25th, 2021
I just logged on to Facebook for the first time in a while for a few minutes. This piece, full of zingers, captures the feeling of sickly irritation well.
[Facebook] exists as a weird kind of social museum, where I exist as an observer watching people I knew 5, 10, 15 years ago grow up, get married, have children, all the while saying nothing in the silence. Intersperse the family announcements with memes and ads and other nonsense, and my newsfeed is nothing but a wasteland, a place I’ll find maybe one relevant, engaging update from someone I know for every fifty I couldn’t care less about.
To be fair, I have a friend who finds his Facebook feed uplifting and enjoyable.
Saturday, June 12th, 2021
From Nieman Media Lab, a newsy perspective on Apple’s recent WWDC 2021 announcements:
Will my iPhone’s algorithms decide that a breaking news story from Bloomberg is “urgent,” “important,” or “time-sensitive”? How about something more feature-y pushed by The Atlantic, or a game score notification from ESPN?
Sunday, May 16th, 2021
Jerusalem Post editor Yaacov Katz argues that Israel’s rough treatment of the international media during the current conflagration — duping them to entice Hamassholes into their tunnel network before bombing it, then razing the building that housed the AP and Al-Jazeera — will bite us in the behind.
I’m not so sure Katz is correct — it could be the media needed to stop taking Israel for granted, that they required a little fear put in them in order to finally do their job properly and aim for truth — but at at any rate the issue he raises is a real one.
Friday, April 2nd, 2021
Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020
The New York Times abandons key claims of the 1619 Project, as reported by the World Socialist Web Site — this stuff it seems is too kooky even for them.
Sunday, August 30th, 2020
A solitary voice suggesting Vitamin D, Matt Ridley in The Spectator:
The bottom line is that an elderly, overweight, dark-skinned person living in the north of England, in March, and sheltering indoors most of the time is almost certain to be significantly vitamin D deficient. If not taking supplements, he or she should be anyway, regardless of the protective effect against the Covid virus. Given that it might be helpful against the virus, should not this advice now be shouted from the rooftops?
I do believe that the Western media — and therefore Western society in general — is actively uninterested in a biological reason for why darker-skinned people are suffering more from the novel coronavirus; such a materialistic and addressable cause does not fit the fashionable angle of systemic racism. So who suffers?
Thursday, August 20th, 2020
The iPhone matters more than anything … it is the foundation of modern life.
Ben Johnson, “Apple, Epic, and the App Store”
Friday, August 7th, 2020
Shamefully kowtowing to China, Israel has withdrawn a Ministry of Health public service video that humorously refers to the coronavirus as “Made in China (yet works properly)”. This isn’t going well is it?
Thursday, August 6th, 2020
The Daily Mail has 8:38 minutes of police bodycam footage of the George Floyd arrest.
Saturday, March 21st, 2020
Tuesday, March 10th, 2020
“More news, less junk. Faster.” Brent Simmons has just released the free and open source RSS reader NetNewsWire app for iOS. This may well be a visible dent in the universe.
In an interview with Kelly Gulmont on MacObserver, he says in an interview that one of the things he’s most proud of is that search is really fast (in a 20-minute podcast, this, remarkably, is the only bit of substance; I won’t be listening again).
There’s a review up at MacStories, “NetNewsWire for iOS and iPadOS Review: The Perfect Complement to the App’s macOS Counterpart” while Cult of Mac has “NetNewsWire is reborn on iOS”. Also 9to5Mac.
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of an Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
Brent Schlener and Rick Tetzell
Although the simple thesis gets repeated interminably, nonetheless it’s a nice one: that Steve Jobs’s greatness stems muchly from his constant becoming, constant learning, constant trying to overcome himself (hence the title, which can be read as descriptive).
It’s great to be in his company, which you feel you are, as one of the authors was himself repeatedly so for decades.
One thing new to me was Pixar’s role in maturing Jobs; we don’t often read about who and what shaped the shaper.
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
Dr Alex Joffe notes that while the West’s working classes are still relatively sensible, “in Western social and information environments saturated with virtue-signaling, [grafting BDS onto contemporary concerns and movements”:https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/bds-antisemitism-class/ is] having some success with members of the image-conscious, predominantly white middle class.
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
Succession as comedy. Obvious, given its producers, but still, nicely written.
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019
There is no climate emergency, states the European Climate Declaration, organized by Amsterdam-based Climate Intelligence Foundation (CLINTEL) and undersigned by “over 500 knowledgeable and experienced scientists and professionals in climate and related fields”. This on the day the media provided extensive coverage of a speech at the UN by a 16-year-old climate activist. Interestingly, the country with the most signatories is Italy, with 113.