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Grand East Berlin Hotel iPhone 6S Berlin, Germany Monday, September 5th, 1988.

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School & Pantheon iPhone 6S Kiryat Ono, Israel Sunday, October 2nd, 2016.

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Grand East Berlin Hotel iPhone 6S Berlin, Germany Monday, September 5th, 1988.

•••

About

Briefs

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

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

Saturday, January 7th, 2023

A story most emblematic of Israel’s governmental switchover: Finance Minister Smotrich’s cancellation of Liberman’s tax on plastic plates, as sympathetically reported by JTA.

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

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

I recommend this tour de force on Israel’s recent election by the excellent Haviv Rettig Gur in The Times of Israel.

[The left and Balad] spoke of Netanyahu’s imminent return to power as a vast danger, but then did everything required to make that outcome more likely.

The Israeli left didn’t collapse in a sudden, recent rightist lurch of the electorate. It has been in a tailspin for three decades. And three decades of failure suggest a simple, unsparing conclusion that hovers over the anxiety about the election results and the patina of moral panic that accompanies it: The left that just collapsed, in terms of raw political strategy, doesn’t deserve to exist.

If the left does not fundamentally redraw the Israeli political map — that is, fundamentally reconceive itself — then Tuesday’s result will be more than a single painful failure. It will be a harbinger of the foreseeable future. It is this reality that drives the “end of the country as we’ve known it” panic.

From here, Rettig Gur starts to build a case for a revived Israeli Left. What a piece!

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.

Thursday, October 6th, 2022

Jonathan Haidt speaks with Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly on democracy in the next cycle of history and the fragility problem of Gen Z. What a line-up!

Sunday, October 2nd, 2022

The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People

Walter Russell Mead

♦♦♦♦

Mearsheimer and Walt — three words that do not appear once in this 1045-page book but are clearly its raison d’etre. John Mearsheimer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago; Stephen Walt is Professor of International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School; together they are the respectable face of American anti-Semitism, reputable enough that Walter Russell Mead seems unwilling to criticize them by name, despicable enough that their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy infuriated our southern-born dean of foreign relations to work on this book for a dozen years or so.

The Wikipedia article on the Lobby book illustrates Mead’s Southern Gentleman approach; whereas Israeli historian Benny Morris says “their work is riddled with shoddiness and defiled by mendacity,” Mead applauds the authors for “admirably and courageously” initiating a conversation on a difficult subject, but more in sorrow than in anger laments that while their intentions are surely strictly honorable, they commit “easily avoidable lapses in judgment and expression.”

Making multiple approaches from multiple angles, Mead demolishes their central notion, giving it the withering moniker of Vulcanist thinking. (Actually I take issue a little with this label, because since the book is so long I forgot the elegant historical anecdote that originates it — a theory of astronomy that attempted to explain celestial workings by means of an undetected planet that doesn’t actually exis. Instead I mentally defaulted to popular culture, where Star Trek’s Vulcan is a stand-in for excessive logic — a characterization quite antithetical to his notion of Vulcanist thinking. This is a shame because the term therefore probably won’t catch on, which it could have perhaps as a shorthand for tendentious yet respectable and therefore ultimately even more ridiculous thinking.)

Especially enriching are his fleshing out of the geopolitical maneouverings among the US, Britain and Russia at the time of Israel’s founding. Important here for Mead’s thesis is that the legend of Truman’s Jewish friend from back in Missouri inveighing on the flummoxed President to recognize Israel be relegated to Queen Esther-echoing myth. For it is WRM’s contention in his chapter “Cyrus Agonistes” that American support for Israel is endemic to the United States, rather than due to the influence of the American Jewish lobby qua Walt and Mearsheimer — moreover it’s despite American Jews, whose leaders have for most of Israel’s history been actively working against a Jewish state, their energies only turning once America as a whole pursued full-throated support for Israel after it became the Middle East’s unambiguous Six Day War strong horse.

It’s also a helpful historical insight that WRM groups 19th century American support for Jewish return to Israel with support for the birth of the Italian and Greek nationstates:

In the ancient world, as Americans saw it, the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews had been much like Americans of the nineteenth century. They were mostly agrarian people, nations of family-owned farms. They had free institutions and their societies were grounded in virtue. But corruption, urbanization, and monarchy had wreaked their ugly work; in time, all three of the ancient peoples fell from their virtue and freedom into slavery, superstition, and oppression.

As the nineteenth century progressed, and the Greek and Italian independence movements advanced, the possibility of a restored Jewish commonwealth also began to gleam on the horizon.

In fact the discussion of nationalism’s birth pangs from the empires of eastern Europe, the chapter entitled “Maelstrom”, is perhaps the richest part of the book.

As a columnist I have been irritated by what I perceive as WRM’s intellectual mealy-mouthedness. But as a full-throated podcast guest I realize this is merely his print persona, a tic I suppose similar to what he probably views as his Straussian icy politeness regarding Mearsheimer and Walt. That said, I took umbrage when in the book he referred to the Second Intifada, a wave of despicable terror attacks against Israel in the wake of the Oslo Agreements, using the BBC-like passive even-handed term: “violence flared”. I instantly recalled eyewitnessing the shellshock in the hours after the Dolphinarium suicide bombing that killed and maimed dozens of partying teenagers. I was only somewhat mollified later in the book when he mentioned this particular bombing by name, without mentioning that the victims were teenagers.

This is a book about America not Israel, and as well as constituting a scathing retort to Mearsheimer and Walt, is a continuation by other means of his 2001 book Special Providence that classifies the various streams of America’s foreign policy; in portraying America’s relationship with Israel, Arc explicates the fullest expression of the Jacksonian stream, a Meadian classification that, unlike Vulcanism, does seem to be sticking.

Sunday, September 25th, 2022

If “the Jews” ran America, immigration would not have been restricted and Israel would likely not exist.

Walter Russell Mead, The Arc of a Covenant (p. 251)

Friday, August 5th, 2022

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

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

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

Conrad Black, Triumph of Davos Man

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

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

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

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.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2022

To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Mark Antony in Julius Ceasar speaking of Brutus: “And in 2022 the United States is a serious country.” Upon receiving a Bradley Prize, Wilfred M. McClay, Professor of Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College, begins (as published in the redoubtable City Journal):

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to have dinner with a very wise friend, here in Washington, at his favorite seafood restaurant near Dupont Circle. I remarked that he seemed to be spending more and more of his time in a certain foreign country. He acknowledged the fact, paused for a moment, and then said: “I want to live in a serious country.” It may be relevant to point out that the foreign country in question is Israel, where seriousness is an existential requirement. But it is equally important to point out that the gentleman in question is an American patriot of the highest order, the author of distinguished books on the subject. For him to say such a thing was therefore, for me, a very serious matter.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Hispanics: the new world-historic anchor whilst America’s Whites flounder.

Religious liberty, always. Parental rights, always. Right to life, always. Free markets, always. Compassionate but firm on immigration, always.

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.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

I just had to read this one entitled “Why Putin didn’t invade Ukraine during the last U.S. administration”. The question should be a discomfiting one indeed for people of the author’s ilk. His response, prefaced by a prudent “perhaps”: “because Putin was so pleased to see Trump pursuing goals in line with Moscow’s agenda”. Steve Benen is a producer for The Rachel Maddow Show.

Sunday, February 20th, 2022

America today: the fractious school board meeting. I blame, well, so many things. Corn subsidies? No-fault divorce? The lack perhaps of a dietary component in Protestantism? But despite the madness this video shows that the will to civility still remains, which is a tendril for hope.

Friday, February 4th, 2022

Israel’s US Ambassador Michael Herzog responds to Amnesty International’s ”Apartheid” report [tweet].

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.

Monday, January 31st, 2022

One main worry exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic is erosion in faith in science. While some of our denizens have pursued wantonly contrarian beliefs, others got busy blithely eroding core tenets. The Royal Society is warning that all this is dangerous. Its first prescription: “investing in lifelong information literacy programmes”.

The solutions are deep because the problems are; we live in an information glut yet there has been no parallel explosion in education — indeed rigor has likely lessened alongside national priorities skewered due to intemperate new orthodoxies which are due in turn to I know not what.

Yet some heartening news, as related in “Inside Operation Warp Speed: A New Model for Industrial Policy”, which happened under Trump. If we can optimistically harness the former President as a metaphor for Western civilization, perhaps the outlandish demeanor belies sound and enterprising deeds.

At any rate, this is the big shit.

Friday, January 28th, 2022

The New York Post appears to be cruisin’ for another cancellin’, what with their Peter Schweizer reporting that the Biden family has done five deals in China arranged by individuals with ties to Chinese intelligence. Such poor taste, reporting on this sort of distraction from the real issues.

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.

Friday, January 14th, 2022

There’s the story — a Salena Zito New York Post joint — of one Former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, losing weight because he wants to be around for his grandkids. And a Tara Palmeri Politico Playbook story that the Clintons see Democratic concern over the upcoming midterm election “as an opportunity to insert themselves back into political life”.

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Having already had the worst thrown at him (not without some reason), Lord Black of Crossharbour need make no bones about it:

In an election of 156 million voters and more than 40 million harvested ballots (i.e. those of unverifiable validity and cast by people other than those to whom the votes ostensibly belonged), where a shift of 46,000 votes in Pennsylvania and any two of Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin would have flipped the election to Trump in the Electoral College, 2020 takes its place along with the highly contested contests of 1876 (Hayes-Tilden), 1960 (Kennedy-Nixon), and 2000 (George W. Bush-Gore).

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Israel Hayom reports that Israel has paused offshore gas exploration with Energy Minister Karine Elharrar intoning: “2022 will be the year of renewable energy.”

Israel should keep in mind that her modern Achilles’ Heel is not disunity but overconfidence; and, previous Trojan War reference notwithstanding, should not be looking the gift horse of natural gas in the mouth. Because a prudent energy policy demands a short-, mid- and long-term strategy.

Saturday, December 18th, 2021

In this excerpt from his new book The Elect: Neoracists Posing as Antiracists and their Threat to a Progressive America, the great John McWhorter lists 10 self-contradictory catechisms of woke/anti-racist ideology. Among them:

You must strive eternally to understand the experiences of black people. But you can never understand what it is to be black, and if you think you do you’re a racist.

And:

Show interest in multiculturalism. But do not culturally appropriate. What is not your culture is not for you, and you may not try it or do it. But — if you aren’t nevertheless interested in it, you are a racist.

Most of us are fumbling around trying to articulate if only to ourselves just what is so Kafkaesque and bonkers about all this. McWhorter has, as the parlance goes, done the work.

[Update 2022 Jan 12: The Chronicle of Higher Education has published what appears to be a take-down of the book by Eduardo Peñalver, linked to from aldaily.com, which I believe the Chron now owns.

The California Teachers Association held an event in Palm Springs on October 29-31, 2021 entitled “2021 LGBTQ+ Issues Conference, Beyond the Binary: Identity & Imagining Possibilities”. There they held workshops to “have the courage to create a safe environment that fosters bravery to explore sexual orientation, gender identity and expression”, reports Abigail Shrier:

“Because we are not official — we have no club rosters, we keep no records,” Buena Vista Middle School teacher and LGBTQ-club leader, Lori Caldeira, states on an audio clip sent to me by a conference attendee. “In fact, sometimes we don’t really want to keep records because if parents get upset that their kids are coming? We’re like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe they came?’ You know, we would never want a kid to get in trouble for attending if their parents are upset.”

Just how did such entrenched swathes of America become so wackadoodle? I’d be curious as to whether Ms Caldeira has kids herself. Regardless, that’s likely part of the answer: America, now experiencing its lowest birth rates ever, has proportionately more childless — pardon me, child-free — adults, which naturally suggests increasingly non-child-prioritizing policy leanings.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

All the keyboard-powered culture wars bullhonky is merely a distraction from the world’s most important problem: the impoverishment of the American blue-collar worker. Because without a prosperous American nation, there is no Pax Americana. In Newsweek, Hazmat truck driver Cyrus Tharpe writes:

Our jobs are essential because they are rooted in manufacturing and delivering goods, the underpinning of every major economy on the planet. And unlike politicians, we materially improve the lives of the American people.

And yet, this “essential” job pays a garbage wage. The median annual income for a truck driver in this country is less than $40,000 a year. For many of us, 50 percent of our take-home pay immediately disappears to cover rent.

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.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021

I’m pleased to see this — Fathom, the organ of BICOM, the British-Israeli thinktank, has a series of articles under the rubric UK-Israel 2021. They are:

I want bilateral histories.

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.

Saturday, November 13th, 2021

Last month Harvard put on a performance of Macbeth “designated to be an exclusive space for Black-identifying audience members”. Horrible, yes; illegal, surely?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

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

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

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

Sunday, October 31st, 2021

Finally, someone comes out and clearly states the most important truths about UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson — that he wins and will be in power a long time.

Eccentric, optimistic and fundamentally humane, he personifies the very best British ideals, and that’s why the public loves him.

Tuesday, October 26th, 2021

Hijinks for the practicing intellectualoid: Mansfield on Machiavelli, acknowledging the Florentin’s modernity paternity.

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.

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

Criminalizing the criminalization of politics is akin to the wonder performed by Aeschylus’ Eumenides, which turned revenge into law—high statesmanship.

Angelo Codevilla, The Ruling Class

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”

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

This is so full-throated by David Horowitz (posted by John Hinderaker at Powerline). Entitled “The Read Existential Threat”, it rings very true to me, given the unforced error that is the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Anti-white racism, and ignorant attacks on the American founding – these constitute the greatest existential threat to America. And the fact that Black Lives Matter fictions make up the crippling doctrine of our military leaders should wake everyone to the menace we face. There never has been a greater threat to our patrimony and freedom since the darkest days of the Civil War.

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

An introduction to Issawi Frej, Israel’s Minister for Regional Cooperation, on YouTube by The Khaleej Times.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

As Israel finally passes a budget, Mansour Abbas, leader of the Islamist Raam party, appears to have been the kingmaker, is budgeted an unprecedented $16b for infrastructure, crime, healthcare, education and transport.

Sunday, August 1st, 2021

J. D. Vance makes what seems to me an historic speech, calling on the Republican Party to be the family party:

The fact that we’re not having enough babies, the fact that we’re not having enough children, is a crisis in this country. It’s a crisis because it makes our media more miserable. It’s a crisis because it doesn’t give our leaders enough of an investment in the future of their country. And it’s a crisis because we know that babies are good.

And here’s a doozy:

The Democrats are talking about giving the vote to sixteen-year olds. But let’s do this instead: let’s give votes to all children in this country, but let’s give control over those votes to the parents of those children.

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

“China-US Relations In The Eyes Of The Chinese Communist Party: An Insider’s Perspective” [PDF] by Cai Xia at the Hoover Institution, June 2021 (via Ambrose Evans-Pritchard).

Since the 1970s, the two political parties in the United States and the US government have always had unrealistic good wishes for the Chinese communist regime, eagerly hoping that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) under the CCP’s rule would become more liberal, even democratic, and a “responsible” power in the world. However, this US approach was a fundamental misunderstanding of the CCP’s real nature and long-term strategic goals.

Sunday, June 6th, 2021

In Quillette, Kenny Xu and Christian Watson take the time to spell out the bleedin’ obvious: that Critical Race Theory does not extend but rather undermines the Civil Rights movement.

Only a racist believes that there is some fundamental skin-color-defined moral essence within any of us.

JD Vance on demolishing woke capital. Straightforward and dispassionate.

Saturday, June 5th, 2021

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

At Lockheed-Martin, White Men As Full Diversity Partners — a workshop for senior executives. Well I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks. Excruciating.

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

Victor Davis Hanson, caustic as usual, on Leftist support of Hamas: “The new American Middle East policy is an extension of the new American domestic policy.” Yet so far the Biden Administration has been pretty good at holding off the “international community”‘s usual calumnious onslaught against Israel during conflagrations. I hope the current White House doesn’t expect as quid pro quo Israel’s support for its desire to appease Iran.

Monday, May 17th, 2021

A sober-sounding Thomas Friedman argues that the Israeli-Hamas war broke out to derail the Lapid-Bennet-Mansour Abbas coalition that was being formed. Now, I would have thought that the unprecedentedly egregious Jewish-Arab tensions within Israel would be all the more reason to bring an Arab party into a governing coalition. Instead — and demonstrating how much I consistently misunderstand the Israeli mindset — Naftali Bennet explicitly ruled out such a coalition, returning to Netanyahu.

Friday, May 14th, 2021

index topics politics politics

Arab Insanity Eroding

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

Denver Met

My intent here is not only to participate in a conference but to suck up myriad Americana as a thirsty exile catapulted back in for a primer.

Yes

It’s a Somewhat Rauschenberg World

I don’t like this use of animals, like Damien Hirst’s. The artist could not have asked the goat for permission so should not have assumed it was granted.

Black Tracks the Presidents

The great virtue of Conrad Black’s Flight of the Eagle is its steady track across the entirety of the nation’s history, treating each president equally under its own law and order.

Homepage Design 2016

Even if a web site appears differently at different screen sizes, it should still feel like itself. On a larger canvas more expression abounds; distill this into the smaller screen and get more personality; do “mobile first” second.

Yes

From iPhone 4S to 6S: An Appreciation

The increased size, something I was so hesitant about, feels fine to me now. And because it’s thinner it feels less obtrusive in my pocket.

Spectreview

With the villain’s quasi-sibling bond to the hero, 2015’s 007 movie deflates to an incestuous Möbius Strip.

In Gaza, Israel Should Own its Terrible Tactic

Although such excoriating labels as “collective punishment” and “state terrorism” aren’t entirely wrong regarding Israel’s application of the Dahieh Doctrine in Gaza, history does suggest that the method is effective in fighting a fundamentally defensive war.

Go Deny Yourself

This four-letter little word undermines our modern values of tolerance and presumption of innocence.

Some Consumer Affairs

I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.

Yes

From Nokia N95 to iPhone 4S

Annoyances and upsets with the iPhone 4S have been more than offset by its screen, the silkiness of its surfaces, the camera, and the third-party market for both software and hardware.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Dry, Juicy, Linear, Luminous

The dancers in the ape-suits; how they move is an incredibly energetic output for us. Contrast their physical reaction when witnessing the monolith to that of the astronauts in the newly-minted 21st century.

The Mouse and the Cantilever

Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.

Friendship is for Weenies

It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust US President Obama.

Before the Setup

It’s 1983: Go for the Apple IIe with 64k that could be opened up as a hobbyist machine? Or the smaller, sleeker and newer IIc with double the memory but a closed case?

At Modi’in Mall

There’s nothing else around here except empty desolate pretty hills. The Israel Trail passes by a bit to the west. The shops are mostly franchises, almost all homegrown: Super-Pharm, Aroma, Tzomet Sfarim, Cup O’ Joe’s, LaMetayel, Mega, Fox, Castro, H&O.

Yes

The Israel I Love, the Bad So Far

If the signage were a bit more effective, the staff’s diction and demeanor more professional, then we might have avoided this testy altercation.

Shanghai Europe

So, finally, we stopped yesterday; the Israeli assault on Gaza of late 2008/early 2009 is over. With it, Israel lost moral purity and made vital strategic gains.

Yes

Panning for MacBook Pro

Even if it did nothing, was just a prop in a futuristic movie, the MacBook Pro would be impressive; it’s like a sculpture of my previous computer, the MacBook, except it’s actually an improved computer!

Stop Yesterday

Is the goal of Israel’s current assault on Gaza to discourage Hamas from firing rockets or to render them incapable of doing so? These are two quite different projects.

Short-circuiting Place-based Longing

If there’s one tangible benefit to having lived in a variety of places it’s that it furnishes evidence of the futility of longing to be elsewhere.

A Crawl Across Crawley, Part 1

Irit, the Jam and I walk from Brighton to Gatwick Airport.

Clash of the Midgets

I was annoyed to have my sauna moments despoiled and dominated, reverberating with this old geezer’s most naff yap.

Yes

Israel’s Greatest Victory Since Osirak?

If Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was part of a masterplan to staunch the damage done by the victory of the Six Day War in 1967, then today we see another step in its unfolding.

The Small Adventures, Part 2

There in the empty restaurant by the water at Dieppe I had toast with foie gras, a carafe of red wine, a huge plate of mussels and chips, and finally a crème brûlée. Somehow, though I’ve eaten in restaurants hundreds of times, I felt grown up.

Yes

The Small Adventures

Late for the 11pm train to Milan, we enquired frantically among the taxis for one who’d accept the two dogs and take us to Termini Station so I could begin our journey to Britain.

Tony Blair and the Four-State Solution

Ariel Sharon’s disengagement policy reflected an understanding that ownership of the Palestinian issue is shared with Egypt and Jordan. If Tony Blair were to acquire this view, perhaps he really could help facilitate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A Restoration and Return

There she was, sitting outside the apartment block! How did she do it? Dogs—or at least Jam—must have some sort of navigational sense we don’t understand.

Curs to Fate

Yesterday I lost Jam in Villa Borghese, the central park here in Rome, some five miles from Talenti, the neighborhood where we’re staying. She has not turned up since.

Yes

Jam and Bread, Jam and Bread!

My dog Jam has spent over a third of her time here in Italy as her fixtures have fallen away—first Maddie, then me. But now I’m back!

Yes

This Trip’s Last Day

I went to Astor Place Haircutters. I crossed Manhattan Bridge on foot. I walked west along Canal St, seeking a bamboo steamer.

I, Thou and Pastor Bob

At the Calvary Church here in Fort Lauderdale the Biblical locations feel so far away that they can be abstracted and spiritualized. There is religious energy here.

Yes

The Big and Easy

The American stage is grand, as are the achievements and ambitions, but daily life seems lamed by a compulsive denaturing.

A Drop in Time

The camera hit the ground lens first, bashing it in so that it would no longer wind in and out, and couldn’t switch on. Without it, my perception of an important personal era was degraded.

A Ride to Gatwick Airport

Airports. They’re so charged, so symbolic, and so empty once you’re at one; I dream of them so often.

Only the Rustle in the Trees

Grief, loss — these are the great teachers surely. What one has will pass.

A Cabaret, Old Chum

It’s a last bastion of civility, being allowed to drink at Penn Station, Brian mused ruefully as we carried our beers to his train home to Great Neck.

Fatahland and Hamastan

Now Israel has a dog in a real Palestinian fight: the nationalists rather than the Islamists.

Yes

Stars, Stripes & Superlatives

Here in Los Angeles I am bombarded with superlatives. Daniel’s record collection. The Bikram Yoga College of India world headquarters. Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. All mixed in with the most ravaging mediocrity.

Shite on Brighton

“Like many provincial towns,” the Private Eye reviewer stabs, “Brighton, as depicted in this hacked-together tribute, defines itself more by what it isn’t than by what it is. It’s not London, for one thing.”

Daily Yin

For my first test of the day as day, I open the back door and step outside to the little patio to see the sky and feel the air. I realize not everybody does this, so if people tell me I’m a miserable bastard then perhaps this little habit will correct their impression.

Mind the Dream

Dreaming about our passed companions as if they are alive requires tricks to the dreaming mind to overcome what it believes and knows to be true.

The Dharma Tits

Buddhism is the philosophy and psychology closest to Cognitive Therapy and vice versa.

Yes

Still Got the Jam

Jam was one of Maddie’s nine puppies, the one who remained after the others were all taken. That was always my plan, to keep the runt.

Such a Tramp

Maddie, who died 18 months ago today, was a mangy mutt and stank, but she was also among the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen and for me the longest, richest, widest, deepest streak of feeling lucky.

So You Noticed

I have had something very flattering: a request. Juan Carlos has asked me for comments on Casino Royale.

Reminds Me of Tel Aviv

You get to a stage in life where you are already formed by the past. Thoughts and dilemmas about place are either central questions or a distraction from real issues.

Fly the Blag

Ryanair has brought wretchedness to the skies. Rather than existing on a privileged plane, you stew in a poisoned atmosphere.

Approaching Infinite Justice

Immediately after 9/11, the burgeoning war on terror was named “Operation Infinite Justice”. Within days it was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom”, but is the new name a mere cloaking of the first?

On the Seventh Day

The Mrs is skeptical of David Allen’s Getting Things Done self-management system because it eschews the rigors of time management in lieu of what feels right. But GTD is about informed feeling.

Don’t Panic!

An academic romp through Jewish American comedy starts out as a veritable rollercoaster ride, but grinds to halt with its obsession with one Bob Dylan.

Photographing a Handsome Old Man

I want to get people in my pics, but it’s tougher when you’re no longer a wide-eyed teenager, because people generally don’t like to think they are a spectacle.

The Beauty of Rain

Rain makes the rocks shine. It puts in motion things that are otherwise static. It illustrates gravity most prettily.

Ode to Salame

It’s supposed to be the arsehole of Tel Aviv, Salame Street, running east-west at its southern tip, but it always does me darn good.

I Love Laundry

How pleasing it is to have my own washing machine. If all isn’t right with the world, not even in my world, at least the laundry cycle is functioning.

Lovely Scenery, But Walks Getting Boring

Unless I drive somewhere new, it’s not much fun to just step out the door and wander. But driving to go for a walk seems a tad ridiculous.

For Love of Economy

It disturbs me to be driving a car that gets fewer kilometers to the shekel than did my previous.

Shinui and the Seven-Year Itch

How refreshing to see Asian faces out shopping in Tel Aviv, or Africans riding the bus to Ra’anana. With them Israel is given fresh wellsprings of culture.

Allah Help the Jackals

While it’s obvious that overplaying your power can result in a downfall, it’s less obvious that underplaying it also leads to trouble. America did this in the 1970s under Carter. Israel seems to have done it almost perennially.

Yes

For Tel Aviv, Better a Skylift Than a Subway

Rather than copycatting a transportation system from the 19th century, Israel could inject into its civic planning the same audacity and resourcefulness that it has historically brought to agriculture and defence.

Yes

Canada Obscura

There’s not a patch of water to be seen—the most liquid thing is the word “Coffee” on one of the low-slung strip-mall buildings. It’s a scene more artful than art itself.

Tour of Kitchen Duty

There was yelling and spray and I raced to keep up. One can enjoy, briefly, the company of men.

Shiny Bright Toadstool

In Israel’s case, burgernomics don’t add up because significant factors contribute to the 30%-odd surcharge on a Big Mac.

The Fresh Jewels of Spring Mound

Quality of life in Tel Aviv is fundamentally enhanced by two simple factors: trees are everywhere, and so are apartments.

Independence Park Up for Grabs?

To this day men of many ages walk these bushes, they delicately lurk these bushes, and stand in places odd to choose.

We Tri Harder

A land could be governed not only by the three separate arms of government, but by three sovereign states.

Yes

Tira Saunters

The one-lane road is empty; down below is the Sharon Plain, looking vast. Israel may be a small country but we’re still speaking here of land.

A Call to Thumbs

When you hitchhike it’s out of your hands, and that’s therapeutic. Paradoxically, you also see how much control you do have.

 

Briefs (cont’d)

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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

Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Monday, January 16th, 2023

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

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

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

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

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

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

Saturday, January 7th, 2023

A story most emblematic of Israel’s governmental switchover: Finance Minister Smotrich’s cancellation of Liberman’s tax on plastic plates, as sympathetically reported by JTA.

Friday, January 6th, 2023

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

At Charlie Hebdo’s brave beautiful #MullahsGetOut competition “every contestant won a place in hell”.

After the Six Day War victory, Moshe Dayan decided the Waqf should retain control over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. The op-ed writer calls it “progressive hubris”; similarly, I take it as a lesson that, like premature optimization, excessive magnanimity can be a root of much evil.

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!

I recommend this tour de force on Israel’s recent election by the excellent Haviv Rettig Gur in The Times of Israel.

[The left and Balad] spoke of Netanyahu’s imminent return to power as a vast danger, but then did everything required to make that outcome more likely.

The Israeli left didn’t collapse in a sudden, recent rightist lurch of the electorate. It has been in a tailspin for three decades. And three decades of failure suggest a simple, unsparing conclusion that hovers over the anxiety about the election results and the patina of moral panic that accompanies it: The left that just collapsed, in terms of raw political strategy, doesn’t deserve to exist.

If the left does not fundamentally redraw the Israeli political map — that is, fundamentally reconceive itself — then Tuesday’s result will be more than a single painful failure. It will be a harbinger of the foreseeable future. It is this reality that drives the “end of the country as we’ve known it” panic.

From here, Rettig Gur starts to build a case for a revived Israeli Left. What a piece!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023

What a fabulous talk by Chris Coyier on the state of web design and development, “Websites are Good Now” at GatsbyConf [starts at 6:00]. He reviews our new advanced state of affairs in typography, imagery, layout, componentry (a new term to me but yes, that’s how we do it now), animation and hosting.

In an escalation, the world-historical anti-regime movement in Iran has taken its first regime victim, an IRGC commander shot outside his home.

Thursday, December 29th, 2022

As Netanyahu retakes the reins of Israel, Caroline Glick, excitable as she may be, lays it out, as far as I can tell, pretty darn accurately: the main difference between this government and the previous is that Israel will now stand up to the erratic and mostly misguided Biden Administration.

Tuesday, December 20th, 2022

Binyamin Netanyahu is interviewed at wonderful length by, wonderfully, Al-Arabiya. One question he addresses is the maritime agreement that the previous Lapid government made with Lebanon:

Look, my concern is that the revenues that come out of the sea that I think heavily favored Lebanon, do not favor Lebanon. They favor Hezbollah. And Hezbollah has not been a force for peace. So you may just be funding Hezbollah’s military arsenal that could be used not only against Israel, but against many others in the Middle East. You have to think about that very carefully. But that is already done. As I said, I’ll see what I can do to moderate any damage or to secure Israel’s economic and security interests.

Netanyahu articulates what I believe the clear-eyed majority of Israelis saw (and as I posted on October 14th before the election): that having the Yesh Atid camp in power is a burgeoning danger to Israel’s national security due to their willingness to make visibly unfavorable diplomatic deals, which not only are harmful to Israel’s interests in themselves, but signal weakness that invites further depravations.

It’s also interesting to witness Bibi weave in constant complimentary references to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and address their concerns without compromising the Israeli perspective. I know what they say about Netanyahu’s untrustworthiness, but all this reeks of integrity.

That said, it’s clear what he wants to get across: the key word is “reaffirm”, that he’s heading to Washington to argue on Saudi’s behalf.

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

Still got it, USA: Nuclear fusion ignition is achieved December 5th, 2022 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco, CA.

Monday, December 12th, 2022

Alex Epstein cites Frank Lloyd Wright’s attitude towards nature in this discussion with Jordan Peterson. It’s the first time I’ve heard Mr Wright cited as a source or inspiration in current discourse and I hope it won’t be the last.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2022

A History of the Israeli Army

Ze'ev Schiff

♦♦♦

Author Ze’ev Schiff provides a matter-of-fact overview, probably not too different from many other books of Israeli military history, though I did learn that it was probably Arafat who precipitated the Six Day War. The edition I read was published a decade after the first publication, in the midst of the Lebanon War, about which the author is caustic and upset yet manages to end the book on an optimistic note, wishing Lebanon serve at least as a lesson for future non-endeavors.

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.

Wednesday, November 30th, 2022

This rather disparaging article on Avatar at DNYUZ is the second time recently (I forget the first) I’ve enjoyed a pretty good longish read only to come across, about 2/3 of the way through, what seems so shoehorned in that it smells like the quiet raison d’etre of the whole piece:

What were the odds that, galaxies away, a society not only had two genders, but those genders were “male” and “female” — and the females were stacked?

Of all the liberties taken with physics and reality with this and other sci-fi tentpole movies, this biologically-grounded mammalian fact of life is the complaint?

You need a grinder to make life delicious.

James Hoffman on coffee

Saturday, November 26th, 2022

Stratechery on Microsoft: So Teams is the new Windows. Ah, as so many movie villains have said, Why won’t you just die?!

Sunday, November 20th, 2022

Episode #105 of the All-In Podcast is a bumper one, covering the Musk-led collapse of what David Sacks refers to as the excess elites jobs program, wherein high-status people who cannot be particularly economically productive after their training in sycophancy at a woke madrassa are nonetheless absorbed.

Good post and comment thread by Tyler Cowen on the future of London as a city:

… London, which indeed is currently the best city in the world but in a modestly populated country. However this central role for the city makes the UK as a broader nation richer to only a limited degree. So the extreme wonders of London lead to a partial (permanent) atrophy for the rest of the country, which is precisely what we observe.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022

On researching Prokofiev; Princeton musicologist Simon Morrison uncovers more works by my favorite composer.

The biggest change Prokofiev and his collaborator Sergei Radlov made to Shakespeare’s familiar story was to add a happy ending: Their Juliet wakes up from her potion-induced slumber just as Romeo is reaching the awful conclusion that she is dead. But when Prokofiev presented his score to the Soviet cultural authorities, who had been growing ever more conservative, they balked at the ending. The Shakespeare purists among them did not like the idea of changing the familiar ending. Prokofiev had a logical answer to their objections, saying, “Living people can dance, the dying cannot.” Grasping at ways to preserve the integrity of his vision, he even suggested hanging a red flag outside the theater on nights when the sad ending was to be performed, a green flag when the happy one was planned.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2022

An awed shoutout to Raycast, which I presume the cool kids have been using for years. I had given up finding a contemporary equivalent for SizzlingKeys, a way to control the Apple Music app simply from the keyboard regardless of which app I’m using. With Raycast it’s a breeze to set keyboard hotkeys for many Music app operations, including all the ones I’ve ever thought of using.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

A tweetstorm on tagging by Hillel, with issues I’ve been mulling over myself.

Sunday, October 16th, 2022

At the Washington Institute, Rahim Hamid and Ruth Riegler argue that the Iranian uprising must have a plan for the various ethnicities.

Friday, October 14th, 2022

Tony Badran explicates the terrible maritime deal that Israel signed with the Lebanese. It seems to me they just locked in Bibi’s reelection.

Monday, October 10th, 2022

To form an opinion on the wedge of maritime territory wedged between Israeli and Lebanon, some googling revealed:

Saturday, October 8th, 2022

Himars, highly mobile precision missile launchers, is a revolutionary military technology that has changed the balance of war in Ukraine’s favour against Russia.

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.

Thursday, October 6th, 2022

Jonathan Haidt speaks with Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly on democracy in the next cycle of history and the fragility problem of Gen Z. What a line-up!

Reuel Marc Gerecht is back, now opining fruitfully on the Iranian protests in The Wall Street Journal [subscription required]:

What is most striking about the regime’s response so far is its relative lack of violence … Like all declining dictatorships, the clerical regime has had a failure of imagination—in this case, about how to handle protesting women.

You find some good shit when you search YouTube for reviews by other people who really detest No Time to Die. This is the redoubtable young Batcho.

Wednesday, October 5th, 2022

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022

Some Twitter accounts posting frequent videos of the courageous protests by young women in Iran:

This, it seems to me, is inspiring, world-historical stuff.

Thrilling, emotional coverage by Israel’s Channel 12 on Iran’s street protests, including secret footage from a local stringer.

As Descarte completed his Discourse on the Method I wonder if he had an inkling it would come to this, from “What Trans Health Care for Minors Really Means” by Tyler Santora at mainstream medical reference website WebMD:

For adolescents who are assigned female at birth, top surgery can be performed to create a flat chest. The Endocrine Society states that there is not enough evidence to set a minimum age for this type of gender-affirming surgery, and the draft of the updated SOC recommends a minimum age of 15. “Usually, for a [person] assigned female at birth, the chest tissue continues to mature until around 14 or 15,” Inwards-Breland says. “What I’ve seen surgeons do is after 14, they feel more comfortable.” If, though, a person is started on puberty blockers followed by hormone therapy from a relatively early age – around 13 – they will never develop breast tissue and wouldn’t need surgery to remove it.

Steve Jobs said: “Western rational thought is not an innate human characteristic; it is learned and is the great achievement of Western civilization.” Implicit in his statement is that it can be unlearned. As an intellectually inquisitive teenager in the 1980s I would have scoffed at the notion that religion serves to keep us rational. But the evidence suggests that it does, and without its drumbeat the fever dream of linguistic chimeras can drive us surprisingly mad surprisingly quickly.

Monday, October 3rd, 2022

Sunday, October 2nd, 2022

The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People

Walter Russell Mead

♦♦♦♦

Mearsheimer and Walt — three words that do not appear once in this 1045-page book but are clearly its raison d’etre. John Mearsheimer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago; Stephen Walt is Professor of International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School; together they are the respectable face of American anti-Semitism, reputable enough that Walter Russell Mead seems unwilling to criticize them by name, despicable enough that their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy infuriated our southern-born dean of foreign relations to work on this book for a dozen years or so.

The Wikipedia article on the Lobby book illustrates Mead’s Southern Gentleman approach; whereas Israeli historian Benny Morris says “their work is riddled with shoddiness and defiled by mendacity,” Mead applauds the authors for “admirably and courageously” initiating a conversation on a difficult subject, but more in sorrow than in anger laments that while their intentions are surely strictly honorable, they commit “easily avoidable lapses in judgment and expression.”

Making multiple approaches from multiple angles, Mead demolishes their central notion, giving it the withering moniker of Vulcanist thinking. (Actually I take issue a little with this label, because since the book is so long I forgot the elegant historical anecdote that originates it — a theory of astronomy that attempted to explain celestial workings by means of an undetected planet that doesn’t actually exis. Instead I mentally defaulted to popular culture, where Star Trek’s Vulcan is a stand-in for excessive logic — a characterization quite antithetical to his notion of Vulcanist thinking. This is a shame because the term therefore probably won’t catch on, which it could have perhaps as a shorthand for tendentious yet respectable and therefore ultimately even more ridiculous thinking.)

Especially enriching are his fleshing out of the geopolitical maneouverings among the US, Britain and Russia at the time of Israel’s founding. Important here for Mead’s thesis is that the legend of Truman’s Jewish friend from back in Missouri inveighing on the flummoxed President to recognize Israel be relegated to Queen Esther-echoing myth. For it is WRM’s contention in his chapter “Cyrus Agonistes” that American support for Israel is endemic to the United States, rather than due to the influence of the American Jewish lobby qua Walt and Mearsheimer — moreover it’s despite American Jews, whose leaders have for most of Israel’s history been actively working against a Jewish state, their energies only turning once America as a whole pursued full-throated support for Israel after it became the Middle East’s unambiguous Six Day War strong horse.

It’s also a helpful historical insight that WRM groups 19th century American support for Jewish return to Israel with support for the birth of the Italian and Greek nationstates:

In the ancient world, as Americans saw it, the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews had been much like Americans of the nineteenth century. They were mostly agrarian people, nations of family-owned farms. They had free institutions and their societies were grounded in virtue. But corruption, urbanization, and monarchy had wreaked their ugly work; in time, all three of the ancient peoples fell from their virtue and freedom into slavery, superstition, and oppression.

As the nineteenth century progressed, and the Greek and Italian independence movements advanced, the possibility of a restored Jewish commonwealth also began to gleam on the horizon.

In fact the discussion of nationalism’s birth pangs from the empires of eastern Europe, the chapter entitled “Maelstrom”, is perhaps the richest part of the book.

As a columnist I have been irritated by what I perceive as WRM’s intellectual mealy-mouthedness. But as a full-throated podcast guest I realize this is merely his print persona, a tic I suppose similar to what he probably views as his Straussian icy politeness regarding Mearsheimer and Walt. That said, I took umbrage when in the book he referred to the Second Intifada, a wave of despicable terror attacks against Israel in the wake of the Oslo Agreements, using the BBC-like passive even-handed term: “violence flared”. I instantly recalled eyewitnessing the shellshock in the hours after the Dolphinarium suicide bombing that killed and maimed dozens of partying teenagers. I was only somewhat mollified later in the book when he mentioned this particular bombing by name, without mentioning that the victims were teenagers.

This is a book about America not Israel, and as well as constituting a scathing retort to Mearsheimer and Walt, is a continuation by other means of his 2001 book Special Providence that classifies the various streams of America’s foreign policy; in portraying America’s relationship with Israel, Arc explicates the fullest expression of the Jacksonian stream, a Meadian classification that, unlike Vulcanism, does seem to be sticking.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022

He of the Cottage Cheese protests, now sitting in the Prime Minister’s chair, finally did it, as Israel applies EU standards for foodstuffs. Lapid’s statement: “The move will lower the cost of living and open the market to competition” — and what a great pic in his office with the Israeli flag and an array of foodstuffs.

Lilium’s electric aircraft demonstrator takes off and lands vertically, achieving mid-flight transition. The first and last moments of the video are I guess the most important. Lilium stock rises 6%, seemingly as a result.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

The American model appeared to demonstrate that capitalism plus democracy led to mass prosperity and deep social stability.

Walter Russell Mead, The Arc of a Covenant

Sunday, September 25th, 2022

If “the Jews” ran America, immigration would not have been restricted and Israel would likely not exist.

Walter Russell Mead, The Arc of a Covenant (p. 251)

 
 

•••

Newsroll

A quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute, edited by Brian C. Anderson.

experiments in refactored perception

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