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Yad Vashem Sculpture Garden #4 Ricoh KR-10 Super Jerusalem, Israel Sunday, June 14th, 1987.

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Mouth of the Crocodile River iPhone 6S Monday, September 26th, 2016.

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Yad Vashem Sculpture Garden #4 Ricoh KR-10 Super Jerusalem, Israel Sunday, June 14th, 1987.

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Yad Vashem Sculpture Garden #3 Olympus Mu2/Stylus Jerusalem, Israel Sunday, June 14th, 1987.

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Yad Vashem Sculpture Garden #1 Olympus Mu2/Stylus Jerusalem, Israel Sunday, June 14th, 1987.

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Yad Vashem Sculpture Garden #2 Olympus Mu2/Stylus Jerusalem, Israel Sunday, June 14th, 1987.

•••

About

Briefs

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

Just a reminder of Walter Russell Mead’s wise words from 2012 regarding anti-Semitism:

The rise of anti-Semitism is a sign of widespread social and cultural failure. It is a leading indicator of a loss of faith in liberal values and of a diminished capacity to understand the modern world and to thrive in it. Societies that tolerate anti-Semitism take a fateful step toward the loss of both freedom and prosperity.

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?

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.

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World

Clive Thompson

♦♦

I enjoyed Clive Thompson’s Wired piece “Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t” wherein he considers task management software as a kind of religious devotion:

To-do lists are, in the American imagination, a curiously moral type of software. Nobody opens Google Docs or PowerPoint thinking “This will make me a better person.” But with to-do apps, that ambition is front and center.

This bringing of theology and things of the spirit into the seemingly more mundane world of computing reminded me delightedly of Umberto Eco’s whimsical comparison of Mac vs Windows as Catholicism vs Protestantism.

So I was hopeful for Thompson’s book Coders, especially after reading the fun first Amazon Kindle sample chapter, and because I am increasingly embracing the identity of coder, given that it’s what I’ve ended up doing almost all my 21/2-decade professional life, and want to know just how much I fit the profile.

Well. I’ve come across writers before whose magazine articles impress but pall at book length. Mr Thompson’s interviewees so often “sigh” as they are clunkily pulled out of the aether to buttress his current argument, and I found particularly jarring that a provocative thought by one fellow — Dijastra, no less — is quoted using “he hissed” — though by then the mechanics of the book were transparent enough to predict the desultory “he has a point”-esque follow-up.

In thematic tandem with the book’s stale style, it degenerates into a long squawk of racial social injustice obsession. What pops into mind is the searing tedium of hearing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at every gas station across America.

So come rain or shine, this one’s going out on the street, and tech chronicler Clive Thompson will need to re-earn his welcome.

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

John McWhorter on “Black Fragility”:

DiAngelo, you may have heard, has a new one out. But do you really need to read yet another book about how white people just don’t get it? After all, roll the tape again and the main theme of intelligent black thought might not be so obsessed with this notion that black America must sit mired in charismatic anomie until white people “get it.” Imagine a black America all about not “Why don’t they get it?” but “How do we get ours regardless?”

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.

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.

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

(The irritatingly insouciant) Lionel Shriver notes that there will likely be unpleasant geopolitical consequences to wokeness in that Western civilization’s illiberal adversaries will interpret the bewailing self-castigation coming from American and British elites as evidence of actual decline — correctly or not (though I suspect correctly).

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Monday, November 30th, 2020

The URL city-journal.org/white-fragility suggests that this piece by Coleman Hughes is the house stance on the insanity; good.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

What a shame that this seemingly literate musing on Stormfront in The Boys dives off the deep-end into America-reviling revisionism:

The Nazis actually praised the American system and copied a lot of its most atrocious ideas. So when the U.S. government welcomed Nazi scientists into our space program, it was an unsurprising extension of that connection.

And regarding Homelander:

He is misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, pro-military, pro-American imperialism, and naturally, anti-abortion. Oh and he’s also a stone-cold sociopath and mass murderer.

A psychopath to be sure, but whence the rest? Homelander seems only cynically a flag-waver/wearer. The author does makes her “progressive” position clear by referring to “pro-military” and “anti-abortion” as evils. I guess I’d been bamboozled earlier by her nice summation of Nietzsche; whoever could do that would not, I presume, be so deeply idiotic.

The author might wish to consider even just for a moment the two greatest wars the United States ever fought — the Civil War and World War Two. Me waxing portentous: if this is normative discourse for geek outlets such as Nerdist, then we must worry for liberal civilization. [You don’t say, me…]

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, September 20th, 2020

I do consider Jonah Goldberg overrated, but he nails it regarding the US DoE calling out Princeton’s woke bullshit:

Princeton: Take our confessions of systematic institutional racism seriously but not literally.

Friday, September 4th, 2020

With “Beyond the Face of Race: Emo-Cognitive Exporations of White Neurosis and Racial Cray-Cray” co-authored by Robin DiAngelo of White Fragility, I’m reminded of the totally nutty 1991 The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing (5 stars with 1,109 ratings on Amazon!).

That said, this paper reads altogether more sanely than that earlier book, though its self-described parables are pretty darn vicious; perhaps it’s telling that they’re explicitly not by DiAngelo but rather credited solely to co-author Cheryl E. Matias.

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 6th, 2020

Dave Seminara writes “When Your Favorite Companies Go Woke” in The Wall Street Journal (paywall).

I feel similarly regarding the homepage banners at Node.js (“#BlackLivesMatter”) and Linode (“Black Lives Matter. Linode is committed to social justice and equality.), both of which I rely on for my work. There are substitutes for Linode, but none for Node.

The Daily Mail has 8:38 minutes of police bodycam footage of the George Floyd arrest.

Given what this American Spectator article contains — the transcript of the exchange between George Floyd and the arresting policemen before he was even on the ground and the toxicology report stating George Floyd’s death was in all likelihood due to an overdose — the shit gonna hit the fan whether the courts find police innocent or guilty.

On Vitamin D and Covid-19 [via Marginal Revolution]. If there’s any truth in the conclusion here — that vitamin D deficiency worsens Covid-19 deadliness by an order of magnitude — then surely it is criminally negligent to not be running public awareness campaigns encouraging people to take vitamin D supplements — especially for darker-skinned citizens, adapted to block out sunlight and consequently vitamin D, and especially in sunlight-challenged locales.

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

All races are equal but some are more equal than others. The Associated Press will not be capitalizing the word “white” when referring to race, but will do so for “black” and “indigenous”. This was quite the decision. I wonder if they’d do similarly within the Jewish context, ie “ashkenazi” vs “Sephardic” Jew.

Sunday, July 19th, 2020

Victor Davis Hanson’s tone has finally changed to righteous anger:

An individual of unknown appearance may kind of, sort of, be shattering our bedroom window and could be pondering a felonious infraction. So could you send out a community facilitator to inquire?

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Thank you, The Atlantic, for daring to publish John McWhorter’s eminently sensible review of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility. My faith is somewhat renewed.

McWhorter holds back more than on the freewheeling The Glenn Show, where he calls it “one of the worst books ever written”.

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

“There is no linguistic justice without racial justice,” as quoted in The Linguistic Society of America’s open letter to call to remove Steven Pinker.

What a fakakta — China must be licking its chops as we stand around pissing on each other’s piss.

Monday, June 15th, 2020

Capping off a triumvirate of essays I’ve come across in the past few days that elucidate the current moment is Ross Douthat on the successor ideology.

David Goldman produces a fact-filled yet overarchingly-theoried analysis of the mid-pandemic race-themed disturbances. Like for Palestinians, he argues it’s about humiliation. Goldman is sympathetic but not sycophantic, analytic but not caustic.

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Benjamin Schwarz decries the University of Chicago’s English Department for toeing the woke line, despite the Chicago Principles (it’s great to see my alma mater’s font again, and saying such things).

Monday, May 13th, 2019

We must be facing this: David Gelertner on giving up Darwin. Like Smith’s invisible hand and even Newton’s laws of physics, these glorious, newly-algorithmic cosmologies — the precursors to our wonder-world of bitty digitalism — aren’t the full explanation.

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

What did Jews tend to die of? The entry on morbidity in the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906.

Monday, March 12th, 2018

In the search for an interesting riff on Black Panther, Teju Cole, photography critic at The New York Times Magazine starts it up, complete with dueling translations of Rilke’s “The Panther”.

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, hidalgos and Iagos, may it please you to join Andrew Klavan on this sharp essay through racism and religion via Shakespeare.

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

If you read one brief op-ed piece this year, surely it must be Of Crudeness and Truth by Andrew Klavan in City Journal. “For Nurse Ratched, read Hillary Clinton, CNN, The New York Times, Yale University, Twitter, and Google/YouTube —— all the tender ministers of polite silence and enforced dishonesty. If Donald Trump’s boorishness crashes like a bull through the crystal madhouse of their leftism — well, good. It’s about time.” Like other forms of tyranny, at first we found political correctness amusing. One consequence of it: this risky presidency.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

This 1-hour Smithsonian production is a history of America in the Roaring 20s, with amazing newly-colorized footage. Richly effortlessly narrated by Liev Schreiber, it remedies our black & white impression of this not-so-distant mirror. There are things I should have learned about in school but did not, particularly the Greenwood massacre.

Another Tim Ferriss Show link, this time a joyful 2-hour interview with Terry Crews, artist, athlete, movie actor, taboo-dispeller, celebrity, self-help book aficionado.

Sunday, September 13th, 2015

A week in Berlin, where all anyone can talk about is refugees, and the author observes: “All this moral unction reminds me of the reality-challenged 1920s in Europe, which gave rise to the very ugly 1930s.”

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Adam Garfinkle at The American Interest waxes catholic and sensible on the runaway American health care system — or, more accurately, disease repair system.

Friday, November 16th, 2012

The writer’s bias is clear but still it’s hard to dispute the gist of this exploration of Israeli chauvinism, even if it’s unfair to expect too much more given the circumstances.

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Josef Joffe, editor of Hamburg’s Die Zeit, analyses Günter Grass’s What Must Be Said.

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Guilty as charged: Shit White Guys Say… To Asian Girls.

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Aluf Benn’s pitch-perfect response to the Israeli soldier Facebook photos scandal

Friday, August 27th, 2010

The little people in America have proven so disappointing lately.

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Why Caucasians are better swimmers, Negros are better runners: torso length.

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Racism is about appearance and the material; anti-Semitism is abstract and about the conspiracy.

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilizations

Lee Smith

♦♦♦

A rich mixture of travelogue, history and policy pamphlet that is ultimately more of the former than the latter, it casts itself as a critique of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, but isn’t really. Rather, it’s a diving in. A lively and exciting diving in. I did want it to be longer than it is.

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

index topics race race

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)

Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

Some 45 years after his victory, Kan tweets Menachem Begin’s historic victory speech [Hebrew].

We analyzed 9855 children from the USA who were part of the ABCD dataset with measures of intelligence at baseline (ages 9–10) and after two years. At baseline, time watching (r = − 0.12) and socializing (r = − 0.10) were negatively correlated with intelligence, while gaming did not correlate. After two years, gaming positively impacted intelligence (standardized β =  + 0.17), but socializing had no effect.

It’s not only news that Israeli company Watergen is installing its drinking water generators in Syria, but that (opposition web site) Syria TV reported the fact.

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.

Saturday, May 14th, 2022

Venkatesh invites us to join him in exploring the hive mind (very meta). What a candy-maker, this one.

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

Elon Musks has said the problem with flying cars is the noise. (I think he’s also said he’d love to be working in the field.) Meanwhile Joby has just announced its eVTOL aircraft registered the equivalent of 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) from an altitude of 1,640 feet (500 meters) at 100 knots airspeed. According to eVTOL.com’s article, “NASA said it also plans to conduct similar acoustic testing with Wisk Aero”.

A reminder to just ship it:

I was scrolling their landing page and I was happy and furious at the same time. Someone solved the problem that I was solving. It was like someone literally read my mind and started coding. WHAT.

I have previously sent a video of my app to a couple of people (closest I came to shipping it) so I started getting suspicious if someone actually shared the video of my app with these people because they were solving literally the same problem, and they most of the features that I had.

I started getting this overwhelming happy, sad, and panicky feeling. I literally cannot explain how I felt while scrolling their page.

At 1:03, this transcendent moment of moviemaking, John William’s theme counterpointing Alec Guinness’s delivery of George Lucas’s creation. “It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.”

So right now all the James Bond movies are available on Amazon Prime, and with the sudden plethora I was stumped which I’m due next to rewatch. When in doubt, it’s back to Goldfinger, just the first few minutes this time. Once again I’m blown away by just how good it is; it’s definitely arguable that both preceding and all subsequent movies lead to and emanate from it. The post-credit opening scene with the swoop down to the diving board and the cut to Felix watching the dive from the glass window — what delicious glamorous filmmaking. “Into Miami / Pigeon Game” is the 1-minute musical accompaniment.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

What a penetrating look at an earlier Israel by the recently-departed neoconservative scion Midge Decter. A paragraph chosen truly at random:

How was I to be prepared for the discovery that a kibbutz, salvation or damnation, transcendent new society or dustbin of failed transformations, was . . . a farm? I was, to be sure, quite aware that the kibbutzim engaged primarily in farming—that, too, was crucial to their ideology and mine—but from such awareness I had not even come near the image of those flat monotonous fields, unbroken by any visual mark of the drama that had created them, stretching to their termination at a dusty road or property line—the same as must be required anywhere in the world for the growing of cotton or corn or wheat. Degania Aleph, weeping Rachel of the whole movement, sits somnolently by the side of the road (for some reason, I can never envision History as taking place alongside an ordinary thoroughfare, accessible to any passing mortal; History must be climbed up to or stumbled down upon) near the Sea of Galilee, giving no physical hint of anything but a usually drab farm life—with neither marker nor monument to set her apart.

Sunday, May 8th, 2022

A limited but at least scientific study of fasting for 8 days among middle-aged males in Poland.

After 8 days of WF, all subjects were found to remain safe and feel the sense of well-being. However, the appearance of the above-mentioned adverse metabolic effects [decreased serum Ca and Mg++ concentrations, more acidic urine], despite partially effective renal compensations, suggests that the further continuation of fasting intervention by the subjects would be detrimental to their body.

The occasional juice with celery and spinach should help with calcium and magnesium depletion. Or pop a supplement?

Saturday, May 7th, 2022

Tony Fadell from his new Build book:

And you have to hold on to that “why” even as you build the “what”—the features, the innovation, the answer to all your customers’ problems. Because the longer you work on something, the more the “what” takes over—the “why” becomes so obvious, a feeling in your gut, a part of everything you do, that you don’t even need to express it anymore. You forget how much it matters.

When you get wrapped up in the “what,” you get ahead of people. You think everyone can see what you see. But they don’t. They haven’t been working on it for weeks, months, years. So you need to pause and clearly articulate the “why” before you can convince anyone to care about the “what.”

Monday, May 2nd, 2022

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Robert T. Kiyosaki

♦♦♦♦

Perusing the library, I realized I had not read this classic. Well, it’s exciting, and successfully inculcates the importance of assets vs earned income. The author’s preference is to avoid the hard work of running a business and instead use salaried income to buy stocks, and with any winnings, buy real estate — or finding other creative ways to finance the purchase of real estate. That’s the financial technique, but there are personal techniques as well, such as differentiating between poor (an identity) and broke (a situation), and exchanging the thought “I can’t afford it” to “How can I afford it?”. Nice, and one I wouldn’t mind to have available permanently.

Some choice quotes:

Savings are used only to create more money, not to pay bills.

I use my desire to consume to inspire and motivate my financial genius to invest.

Saturday, April 30th, 2022

Blue Moon

Lee Child

♦♦

The great Reacher TV series led me to try a Kindle sample, which read well. Feeling in safe hands, I searched the local public library for whichever they had in stock. They had three, and I picked Blue Moon. I began with enjoyment, reflecting on the fictional dream created as we move from little setpiece to little setpiece (a Greyhound bus, a bar, a rundown suburban home). I so enjoy that imaginative experience of fun fiction and love inducing it in others. But after a while this story becones preposterous. The waitress he meets turns out to be a superwoman, and her friends become Reacher’s special forces army as the book climaxes with attacks on the gangsters’ lairs, the body count like that of a one-person shooter. It ends up being… daft, so I think that’s it for me.

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Jonathan Haidt is wise enough to note that it is mainly America, not necessary the rest of the world, that has gone particularly mental the past decade. Haidt blames social media. But the word “marriage” does not occur even once in the article, despite the decade having seen same-sex marriage transformed from oxymoronic absurdity to self-evident cudgel. If a human institution so deep — deeper than the nationstate, than monotheism, even than history itself — can be so decidedly upended, then what chance has anything else of standing, the collective subconscious must wonder.

Monday, April 11th, 2022

Screenwriting — and acting — genius: Billions, Cory Stoll as Mike Prinz, after a bluff that apparently puts Chuck Rhodes in prison, is watched by the replacement attorney general as he leaves to go to the elevator. Feeling faint and queasy from moments ago losing $3.5b in crypto while pretending to know nothing about it, he leans on the wall in a way a person just wouldn’t normally do. And she knows he was lying. On this subtle display of body language rests so much. Plus, the episode ends with Jerry Garcia singing “Don’t You Let That Deal Go Down”.

Tuesday, April 5th, 2022

Testing entire BPMN process paths — a Camunda blog article. I guess I’m being hopelessly naive but it seems to me BPMN could be used to test software logic; software doesn’t just power processes, software itself is comprised of processes, ie, the transformations that happen to variables.

Cool — Bloomberg’s Pret Index shows that coffee sales at UK airports are now higher than pre-pandemic.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

Niall Ferguson’s important and much-quoted Bloomberg piece of March 22nd on the cynical/optimistic Biden strategy for Ukraine:

It is, when you come to think of it, archetypal Realpolitik to allow the carnage in Ukraine to continue; to sit back and watch the heroic Ukrainians “bleed Russia dry”; to think of the conflict as a mere sub-plot in Cold War II, a struggle in which China is our real opponent. … The optimism, however, is the assumption that allowing the war to keep going will necessarily undermine Putin’s position; and that his humiliation in turn will serve as a deterrent to China. I fear these assumptions may be badly wrong and reflect a misunderstanding of the relevant history.

Monday, March 28th, 2022

It’s time to catch up: the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (a son of the UAE’s founder) speaks in his rather nice English accent at the close of the Negev Summit in Sde Boker.

Friday, March 25th, 2022

Top-flight series of Hebrew animated shorts חדר וחצי about a bachelor clown and his home.

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

The prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have met with President Volodymy Zelenskyy. The glimmerings perhaps of a significant new bloc.

The BoJo Doctrine: Exploit the potential of all renewable energy technologies in this country, from tidal power to hydro to geothermal … Make a series of big new bets on nuclear power.”

Thursday, March 10th, 2022

In the new inflation, the water-cooler is gone, the press serves as water-cooler, the government as press. This does have the fortunate effect of leaving the people available to govern.

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022

At TidBits Adam Engst points out that there are other professionals using Macs beyond “developers, photographers, filmmakers, 3D artists, scientists, music producers” who may not necessarily need such giant power but could nonetheless do with some improvements.

I remain flabbergasted that the FaceTime cameras in even Apple’s latest Macs are so pathetic. Even the cheapest iPad and iPhone put the newest Mac cameras to shame, and quite a few iPad and iPhone models have Face ID support for authentication. We’re talking about technology that Apple has used numerous times. So why isn’t it in Macs?

You can get an iPad with cellular connectivity, so why not a MacBook? The lack of a cellular option for Apple’s laptops has been a glaring omission for years and is yet another example of how Apple doesn’t acknowledge the needs of mobile professionals.

I hadn’t thought of any of these things, but they are obvious.

Full transcript of Mohammed bin Salman’s interview with Graeme Wood of The Atlantic — and JCPA’s take on it:

This is the first time the Saudi crown prince has publicly referred to Israel as a “potential ally.” He also spoke about Iran in a different tone. In an Atlantic interview four years ago, Bin Salman compared Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to “Hitler” and said Iran was leading the “axis of evil.” This time such talk was replaced by calling the Iranians “neighbors” of Saudi Arabia.

Friday, March 4th, 2022

As an antidote to the war in Ukraine, not far away, in Germany, development of the Lilium eVTOL continues apace. It’s perhaps the most exciting of the upcoming electric planes. The eVTOL Innovation YouTube channel has just dropped a video The Insane Engineering behind The Lilium Jet.

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

Bari Weiss seems bigger than the NYT! Her sponsor is Disney+, her panel is Ferguson, Mead and Fukuyama, no less.

Tuesday, March 1st, 2022

Russia, as parlance goes, is too big to fail; we need to forge it an off-ramp from this horrific self-inflicted disaster, as Commentary’s Noah Rothman argues in “What if Russia loses”, Sam Altman of YCombinator tweets, and presumably plenty of other smart people are saying.

Putin though is probably not quite ready to take it, thinking he may yet regain the military upper hand, as attested by the lengthy convoys headed today to Kyiv. He may then as Putin biographer Anita Hill fears, savvily offer the delectable compromise of partitioning Ukraine, wherein he gets the east and others can divvy up the rest. Joe Biden has after all a predilection for territorial break-up — he thought it right for Iraq.

Fortunately it seems we are well beyond Europe countenancing such temptations; Germany has reoriented around the danger emanating from Russia, the UK is acting on what it called it “a catastrophe on our continent” [emphasis mine], and a myriad of surprising others are joining the fray each in their way (Switzerland, Finland, etc).

Also, it does seem self-evident that Vlad the Mad has lost some of the faculties he’s had up to now, so that such diplomatic savvy might never be forthcoming from him. As of now, Russian diplomatic efforts in such forums as the United Nations are of the Baghdad Bob sort even as the Ukrainians are performing masterfully, not just spreading the word but showing Westerners (and probably everyone else): we’re your sort of people — more, we’re the sort of people you hope you are.

Once again, the West must win firmly, though this time — unlike after the collapse of its Soviet Union guise — there should be effective stroking of Russia’s vanities.

Cogent interview with Putin biographer Fiona Hill. She floats the notion that he’d be happy to have Ukraine broken up:

In 2015, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was at the Munich Security Conference after the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas. And he talked about Ukraine not being a country, saying pointedly that there are many minority groups in Ukraine — there are Poles and there are Romanians, there are Hungarians and Russians. And he goes on essentially almost inviting the rest of Europe to divide Ukraine up.

So what Putin wants isn’t necessarily to occupy the whole country, but really to divide it up. He’s looked at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other places where there’s a division of the country between the officially sanctioned forces on the one hand, and the rebel forces on the other. That’s something that Putin could definitely live with — a fractured, shattered Ukraine with different bits being in different statuses.

Partitioning the country; that’s a solution Biden always goes for. And if Putin suggests it, the Europeans may pressure the Ukrainians to accept it. Though it could well be that the European mood has changed sufficiently so that even the newly feckless United States could accept that, they won’t.

Monday, February 28th, 2022

At last, Mark Steyn is writing again.

I take faint glimmers of a new seriousness in the chancelleries of Europe not as a sign of Nato “unity”, but as the dawning realization that the US has blown the last thirty years and they’re now in a post-American world, and, absent course-correction, ultimately on the same grim trajectory as Ukraine.

In Tablet, Lee Smith writes lists the plethora of wickedly poor decisions that led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in 1994 in exchange for U.S. security guarantees in the event its neighbors, Russia in particular, turned hostile. What kind of strategy dictates that a state hand over its security vis-a-vis local actors to a country half the world away? No strategy at all. Ukraine was not able to transcend its natural geography as a buffer state — and worse, a buffer state that failed to take its own existence seriously, which meant that it would continue to make disastrously bad bets.

By tying itself to an American administration that had shown itself to be reckless and dangerous, the Ukrainians made a geopolitical blunder that statesmen will study for years to come: A buffer state had staked its future on a distant power that had simply seen it as an instrument to annoy its powerful neighbor with no attachment to any larger strategic concept that it was willing to support.

To sum it up in few words: “10% for the big guy”.

In this interview, Francis Fukuyama points out:

One of the things that’s happened over the past couple of weeks is that Russia has effectively reabsorbed Belarus. It had been an independent country, after 1991, but it’s effectively become part of Russia.

Israel’s Channel 12 News has tweeted out this video of an Israeli Ukrainian soldier, saying in Hebrew:

It’ll be ok. All the world is with us. They are finished regardless. And Putin won’t be able to do anything with this. This was his last war. And that’s it, we will win regardless. We already beat them actually, even if we die, we beat them. It’s incontrovertible.”

Saturday, February 26th, 2022

At /r/interestingasfuck, President of Ukraine Zelensky plays piano without his hands. As humanity rallies to ballsy Ukraine, it seems Putin has lost already?

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.

He really was the best: P. J. O’Rourke on Israel. I could excerpt any damn paragraph, but here’s just one:

There was no sign of war. Plenty of soldiers were to be seen, carrying their weapons, but this is no shock to the frequent traveler. For all that the world looks askance at America’s lack of gun control, foreigners love to wave guns around. Nothing about the Israeli Defense Forces is as odd as Italian carabinieri brandishing their machine pistols while grimly patrolling that flash-point Venice.

The kids wanted a Nintendo Switch. I thought — and was advised — a used Wii would be wise. Because kids, we now have both. Ever since my first computer, an Apple //c, your churlish host has considered a gaming console redundant and wasteful. But, like Apple, Nintendo it seems is a universe of excellence into which to dive. Yamauchi No. 10 Family Office is the website of the Nintendo founding family. Cool scrolling, ambitious mission, constant motion, and the music sounds like Son of Jeff Lynne.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

The happiness superpower.

For our study, we followed almost 1 million U.S. Army soldiers for nearly five years. We first asked them to rate their well-being — their happiness, if you will — along with their optimism, and then tracked which soldiers later received awards based on their job performance … We saw four times as many awards earned by the initially happiest soldiers (upper quartile) compared with those who were unhappiest initially (lower quartile) — a huge difference in performance between those groups.

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.

Pierce Brosnan watches Goldeneye for the first time since he made it. We got lucky that as a child his first great cinematic experience was Goldfinger. Like any red-blooded boy he had the toy Corgi car. Has anyone suggested as a successor… Russell Brand?

Saturday, February 19th, 2022

Following Tyler Cowen’s growing presence of a web-surfing morning, I note that although the elite is Leftist, the most eminent and influential public thinkers are not. As well as TC I’m thinking of Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Niall Ferguson, Elon Musk. Maybe now even Joe Rogan?

Perhaps it’s a question of age; these guys are all Gen Xers more or less, and all would probably have considered themselves socially liberal and economically conservative by the standards of their youth and early adulthood in the 80s and 90s. There is also a large swathe of others in their wake.

Who on the dominant Left has their stature? Paul Krugman? Is it still Noam Chomsky?

Three of the five I mention are or were known first as builders of enterprises, and TC is now getting into that game, as is Ferguson with the new University of Austin.

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Oh, the minor yet multitudinous wonders of our age! I just discovered Yarn, where you “search by word or phrase for TV, movie and music clips”. What a fun business to have created!

Marc Andreessen has just tweetstormed a section of an Ayn Rand lecture on the contrast between the tribes of Apollo 11 and of Woodstock. Whilst I commend his pro-Deplorables stand, I do feel that as one of the fathers of the age he could be utilizing his mystique to do more, starting perhaps with banging heads in San Francisco. During a recent podcast interview with I forget whom, he dismissed laughingly the prospect of running for office; perhaps he should reconsider. Also, just for some rounding, he might want to read Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon, surely an Apollonian who yearns for the Dionysian.

Friday, February 11th, 2022

Goldman is moved by Reacher:

Radical Protestantism leads the pilgrim from the “howling wilderness” and the “enchanted ground” of the Old World and leads him to the Canaan of the spirit. The question is addressed to, and answered by, the individual pilgrim. The Jew is born into the people of Israel; the Christian seeks adoption into the Israel of the Spirit. American Christianity retains the radical individualism of its Protestant forebears, who chose as individuals to become Americans. We have become Americans by adoption, and we have adopted the history of Israel as our national common memory. A profound parallelism is involved. The biblical Election of Israel was not a prize that God awarded to an unlikely nation of shepherds, but rather the outcome of Israel’s free choice to accept the Torah and the responsibility of election. It is our free choice to become Americans that is the cornerstone of our culture.

Thursday, February 10th, 2022

A web-based treasure, Alexey Guzey’s Theses on Sleep, in which he makes the obvious yet original parallel between sleeping and eating, and that we should probably be sleeping less than we do.

Experiencing hunger is normal and does not necessarily imply that you are not eating enough. Never being hungry means you are probably eating too much. Experiencing sleepiness is normal and does not necessarily imply that you are undersleeping. Never being sleepy means you are probably sleeping too much.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

From the JET Lab, a new record has been set in nuclear fusion. Tellingly, the BBC news item covering the story has only a single tag: climate change.

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

No nominations for The French Dispatch. Huh. Variety is also surprised.

 
 

•••

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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