Sunday, June 4th, 2023
Saturday, June 3rd, 2023
Tuesday, May 30th, 2023
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
Wednesday, May 24th, 2023
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
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
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!
Saturday, March 25th, 2023
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
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.
Wednesday, March 8th, 2023
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…
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
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.
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
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
Thursday, February 16th, 2023
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
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Thursday, January 19th, 2023
Monday, January 16th, 2023
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.