Thursday, March 2nd, 2023
Wednesday, July 20th, 2022
The virtues involved in being a good driver —the mix of independence and cooperation, knowledge and responsibility — really are virtues well suited to citizenship in a sprawling and diverse republic.
Ross Douthat, “What Driving Means for America” by Ross Douthat in The New York Times
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.
Tuesday, April 5th, 2022
Cool — Bloomberg’s Pret Index shows that coffee sales at UK airports are now higher than pre-pandemic.
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020
The architect would surely be pleased that there is once again a Frank Lloyd Wright hotel in Japan — though he’d probably say: Just the one? (Actually it’s not by Wright but Arata Endo, who seems a tasteful and disciplined disciple.)
Monday, November 30th, 2020
What a perfect, impassioned argument by Scottish, sorry, British broadcaster Neil Oliver in praise of keeping Britain. For him it is, correctly, not a confused affair of the dismal science but a clear celebration of the happy heart.
Wednesday, September 30th, 2020
Tuesday, June 30th, 2020
This fellow Guy Stagg did what I failed to do in reverse: walked from Canterbury to Jerusalem.
Sunday, May 17th, 2020
The Making of Prince of Persia
Video game maker Jordan Mechner wrote a rich diary of his life in the mid-1980s. This book covers the creation his second hit game, Prince of Persia, so we gain access of unique immediacy to the heroic tale of producing a universe-dent-making hit.
I wanted this book, which I discovered via Tyler Cowen’s most recent What I’ve been reading, as inspiration during a small lull in morale as I work on a digital product of my own.
Thirty years on there is some poignancy in that this early period of Mencher’s life was the peak: after graduating Yale, already dreamily successful, he shuttles between San Francisco and Hollywood creating video games and pushing screenplays, a digital Orson Welles (in his later game The Last Express, Mechner combines these passions, relying on cinema to produce an impressive commercial failure).
That said, perhaps it is no failure at all that one can point to the creative peak of a life — Mechner’s arguably was working within the memory constraints of the Apple II to create a foe, Shadow Man, based on the hero character. Here I’m reminded of Ken Kocienda’s not dissimilar Eureka moment when up against a constraint, that of using a dictionary to help create the iPhone keyboard.
Perhaps it would have been a better book if he had fleshed out the journal with an italicized retrospective written now, but count me a late-arrival Jordan Mechner fan. And don’t get the Kindle edition lacking the illustrations; I think I’m gonna need to buy the actual book.
Monday, March 9th, 2020
Friday, February 21st, 2020
From Paul Graham’s essay “Having Kids”, December 2019:
I remember perfectly well what life was like before. Well enough to miss some things a lot, like the ability to take off for some other country at a moment’s notice. That was so great. Why did I never do that?
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
AutoCar drives the electric Jaguar I-Pace from London to Frankfurt. As recently as two years ago such a journey simply wasn’t feasible. Now, once you have the more expensive car, it’s much cheaper than driving diesel let alone petrol. That said, charging stops are an hour rather than five minutes, and every 200 miles rather than say every 500. But I think there is some good here. Travellers must get out and stretch their legs for a longer while. All in all our automotive future looks improved.
Tuesday, October 8th, 2019
Saturday, September 28th, 2019
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
The end of formal dining on Amtrak. The change is “driven by a desire to save money,” Amtrak said to The Washington Post, “and lure a younger generation of new riders — chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table.” Sad!
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
“Please just leave me alone when I cross streets.” Richard Stallman’s terms of service for speaking engagements come to light [via The Register] surrounding his forced terminations. A couple of observations: for 66 his skin looks amazingly moist and smooth, like a healthy 25-year-old’s, which perhaps says something about his lifestyle and choices. And his exactingness regarding these terms is both ridiculous and admirable; few things are more important than knowing who we are and what we want and expressing these clearly.
Sunday, September 1st, 2019
Andrew Pielage is on a blessed mission to photograph all 431 Frank Lloyd Wright sites.
Saturday, August 10th, 2019
The words that don’t quite translate tell you the most about another culture.
Colin Marshall, “Travel is Living: How Airbnb Ingeniously Markets to Korea”
Saturday, May 12th, 2018
Thursday, April 26th, 2018
Of course they should do it, what are they waiting for? Venice mulls charging for day-trippers — again.
Sunday, March 25th, 2018
It’s Tim Ferriss’s most soulful interview yet: Jack Kornfield, a guru who talks the talk, walks the walk, sat the sit. With a great selection in the shownotes of links and people mentioned.
As these two leaders discuss morning practices, I’m struck by how many of the perspectives and attitudes they hope for are nicely handled by the Jewish morning prayers.
Tuesday, February 13th, 2018
Tyler Cowen’s work habits while traveling. “Go somewhere — perhaps somewhere dangerous or disgusting — and simply plan to spend your full, normal work/writing day there.” Because: “By the end of the trip it will feel like a full vacation anyway, that’s how silly your memory is.”
Tuesday, October 31st, 2017
TechCrunch takes iPhone X to Disneyland. A great review of considered real-world use.
Monday, June 26th, 2017
“A wordy kind of Kardashian Instagram feed, without the self-awareness.” In this perfectly pitched skewering of Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman & Dave Eggers et al’s confrontation of the Occupation in the West Bank, Matti Friedman wonders what it’s all actually about. All this, plus: I don’t think I’ve ever seen such skilful use of the exclamation mark!
Sunday, June 25th, 2017
As an antidote to the borderline smarminess of Jason Horowitz’s New York Times article about returning to Rome, here is a more substantial, dignified, rewarding and useful guide to visiting the city by a blogger named Nan Quick: My Recipe for a Stress-Free Week in Rome. Warning: she takes a couple of paragraphs to warm up.
Saturday, June 24th, 2017
He had me with his first-paragraph mention of Trattoria Da Enzo, my favorite. I’ve forwarded to visitors this panegyric to Rome by the incoming New York Times’ bureau chief. A lot of attractive restaurants mentioned and described. [via Juan Carlos Bronstein, who was unimpressed by the tone, as are many others in the comments]
Friday, May 5th, 2017
A modest photoblog of a 5-day trip across Israel by Daniel Tchetchik, Haaretz Photography Blog editor.
Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
I’m wrestling with taking too many pictures these days, and why don’t I just stop, but not as well as does the author in “What We See When We Look at Travel Photography”.
Monday, September 5th, 2016
Friday, March 28th, 2014
Go out of the house to see the moon, and ’tis mere tinsel; it will not please as when its light shines upon your necessary journey.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sunday, May 12th, 2013
Cary Grant’s 1963 op-ed in This Week magazine on dressing well.
Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Sunday, May 20th, 2012
Shai Agassi’s Better Place electric cars roll out in Israel.
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
Saturday, February 4th, 2012
KLM presents Meet & Seat.
Use Facebook or LinkedIn to “find out about interesting
people who will be on board your KLM flight”.
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
John Malkovich on Charlie Rose.
John Malkovich: The world is in fact, well, if you’re anywhere near as lucky as I have been, but even if you’re just moderately lucky, the world is in fact an exquisitely beautiful, endlessly fascinating place filled often with spectacular people.
Charlie Rose: That’s exactly the way I feel.
JM: You know…
Monday, January 2nd, 2012
Pico Iyer on travel writing.
Monday, December 26th, 2011
Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
Friday, November 18th, 2011
Thursday, October 13th, 2011
Arstechnica, the iOS 5 review. Featuring game-changers Siri and the iCloud.
Friday, June 17th, 2011
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
Michael Totten reposts his masterly visit to Tripoli in light of Libya’s pending liberation.
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Monday, August 30th, 2010
At last, some vintage Holidays in Hell P. J. O’Rourke with 72 hours in Afghanistan.
Friday, December 4th, 2009
Brighton to Victoria on the train for £3. I’ve done it, though had to enjoy a veggie English Breakfast at Victoria’s Wetherspoone’s while waiting for London to open.
Monday, April 27th, 2009
Brief recent photo essay of North Korea by the brave Tomas van Houtryve.
Friday, March 6th, 2009
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008
Quantum of Solace
Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
“A very peculiar restless thing of the British, isn’t it,” relates travel writer Eric Newby’s widow.