Tuesday, April 5th, 2022
Cool — Bloomberg’s Pret Index shows that coffee sales at UK airports are now higher than pre-pandemic.
Tuesday, March 15th, 2022
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, 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.
Tuesday, February 1st, 2022
The design of Lotus’s upcoming electric vehicle looks like a sleeker Esprit, reports Hearst’s Road & Track; when it’s released we can say we saw the blueprints for this car two years ago.
Wednesday, January 26th, 2022
After doing a house-clearing myself, I can relate to Andy Farnell’s Is techno-clutter ruining your life?.
To render the modern productive class (caring and civic professions) harmless, their power under old-left nomenclature as “working-class” had to be destroyed. Their reinvention as “consumers” necessitated apparatus to warehouse and monitor them. Modern bread and circuses manifests as “techno bling” – cheap, attractive and addictive but ultimately detrimental technology like smartphones and social media. Though it pains me to utter words like “chav” (The UK version of “trailer-trash” or “bogans”), nothing says first-world poverty quite like two gold iPhones, one in each jeans pocket.
Thursday, January 13th, 2022
There is much to say on the worry that is the British identity, and in this sheer and terrible piece after a 3-month trip around the country — from a Somerset Butlin’s to Nordic Shetland — London-based Atlantic staff writer Tom McTague says much of it.
The United Kingdom might crumble, and perhaps so too will Britain, but England will surely remain. Is this not a comfort? My sense of sadness at the loosening of the ties that bind the U.K. are really just emotional. Would life change all that much?
If these were my ramblings, they were also dripping out of The Leopard, in which the prince begins to have similar thoughts about Sicily.
Fissures and dangers abound in and permeate my three nations 🇺 🇬 🇮 — it’s troubling.
Tuesday, December 14th, 2021
Wednesday, December 8th, 2021
The Man with the Golden Gun
Surely I’ve read The Man with the Golden Gun before, given that this mangy old paperback has been on my bookshelves since 2006? Perhaps, but I remember nothing.
Some scenes that seem somewhat vivid for now:
- The middle: James Bond meets kind-hearted Tiffy, the manageress of a Jamaican cathouse, before finding Scaramanga, who promptly does something totally awful
- The end: As Scaramanga’s temporary assistant, James Bond machinates and maneuvers around the underfunded hotel that the assassin is building
- The beginning: M ruminates over his decision to send Bond after Scaramanga
Right now the best part seems to me M’s internal monologue after a brainwashed James Bond, back in London after imprisonment in Russia, fails to assassinate him at his desk (a glass screen plummeting down from the ceiling to block the poison Bond has fired, foreshadowing the spirit of gadgetry to come in the movies).
In wake of this domestic excitement, as M calls it, he decides to send Bond after Scaramanga, who has killed some British agents, figuring the Double-O will either succeed in killing the fellow and thereby redeem himself, or conveniently die trying.
Chief of Staff Bill Tanner thinks this cold-hearted, as Scaramanga is so dangerous. M takes a solitary lunch at his club Blades, troubled presumably over both the event and his subsequent decision, but we are only privy to his thoughts once on the ride back to the office, when he reassures himself that his decision really was wise — indeed he almost can’t believe that his instant instinctual choice stands up so well to scrutiny. This is our glimpse at leadership. The rest of the novel — and the entire series — is our exploration of manliness.
In the movie we lose this brief inner turmoil from M, but we gain a more impressive (though not sufficiently so) Scaramanga in Christopher Lee, who is as suave as Fleming’s assassin is lunky; and we get fabulous Thailand instead of, yet again, Fleming’s Jamaica. To make a long story very short, we’re rather missing Nick Nack.
Thursday, November 25th, 2021
Tuesday, November 16th, 2021
“A society not roused to gall by the planned annihilation of newborns is not as advanced as it tells itself,” Stephen Paisley writes in The Spectator a few days after the botched bombing of a maternity ward in Liverpool.
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:
- Ambivalent Allies? Zionism, Israel and the Conservative Party from Balfour to Boris by James Vaughan, Lecturer in International History at the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University
- Mandate: The Palestine Crucible 1919-1939 by Colin Shindler, Emeritus Professor at SOAS, University of London and founding chairman of the European Association of Israel Studies
- The Flourishing of UK-Israel Academic Networks by John Levy, Director of The Academic Study Group on Israel and the Middle East
- When Britain almost declared war on Israel by Ronnie Fraser, an independent scholar and Director of the Academic Friends of Israel
- How Israel military tech (and doctrine) will make the UK better at fighting the hybrid warfare of the future by Seth Frantzman, op-ed editor of The Jerusalem Post and Research Associate at the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at IDC Herzliya
- The Roots of the ‘Al Aqsa is in Danger’ Myth: Alfred Mond and a Speech Distorted by Yisrael Medad, media column for the Jerusalem Post and foreign press spokesperson for the Yesha Council of Jewish communities
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.
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.
Saturday, October 16th, 2021
David P. Goldman blames the Web technocracy for the end of the American era, comparing it to how Britain lost dominance through the corruption of empire: by eschewing the true wealth creation of manufacturing.
Britain’s best and brightest left Eton and Harrow and went into colonial service, and made fortunes on the sale of British textiles to India, Indian opium to China, and Chinese tea and silks to the West. Britain’s country houses were built on the quick money to be earned from empire, and the British upper class eschewed the dirty work of manufacturing in favor of the faux-aristocracy of the nouveau riche masquerading as landed gentry.
The estimable Goldman is somewhat wrong here I think; web software is much more about conjuring up something from nothing, albeit an intangible digitized something, than it is just shunting stuff around at gunpoint, as he says late-Empire Britain did.
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.
Monday, October 4th, 2021
Londonist visits the two new Tube stations, Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms.
Monday, August 2nd, 2021
Scuzzball extraordinaire Piers Corbyn is caught on camera accepting a bribe from a bogus AstraZeneca investor with a request to focus his very righteous ire on Pfizer and Moderna. Awesome!
Sunday, July 18th, 2021
This top-draw (The New Republic) essay on James Bond and Ian Fleming is ostensibly disparaging about its subject, but author Scott Bradfield’s sheer depth of knowledge marks him a fan. Another clue: although it’s a book review of The World Is Not Enough: A Biography of Ian Fleming by Oliver Buckton, in the entire piece Buckton’s name is mentioned just once! This guy Bradfield’s clearly been chomping at the bit to write something Bondy.
Monday, June 21st, 2021
Carwow drives an Audi RS e-tron GT and a Tesla Model S 571 miles from Inverness to London.
Thursday, June 10th, 2021
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).
Sunday, April 11th, 2021
Thursday, April 1st, 2021
In his Telegraph column, the invaluable Ambrose Evans-Pritchard lays it out that the UK has actually handled Covid pretty well:
We can see in hindsight that the UK began the war on Covid much as it has begun almost every major war over recent centuries: half asleep, in utter shambles, with obsolete contingency plans. The first wave had echoes of the Norway campaign in 1940, or the great retreat of the British Expeditionary Force in August 1914. It always seems to take time for Britons to pull themselves together. Ultimately they do. By the end of the First World War, the British armed forces were arguably the best-run logistical machine on the planet.
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020
Good old Speccie:
For Britain, there are many lessons to be learned from the IDF, a democratic military machine that relies heavily on technology to engage enemies on various fronts and in diverse contexts.
This from “Britain is right to pursue closer military ties to Israel” by Jake Wallis Simons. I had not known that the source of Israel’s tip-off regarding Syria’s North Korean nuclear reactor was a British spy.
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.
Thursday, November 12th, 2020
A series of great photos around London’s Tube from a book by Luke Abgaimoni in Londonist.
Saturday, September 5th, 2020
Monday, August 31st, 2020
Dore Gold explains that Arab nations have long held common cause with Israel. This is part of Mosaic Magazine’s symposium on the Israel-UAE peace accords, and contains links to the other essays.
Tuesday, August 18th, 2020
Monday, August 10th, 2020
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020
It’s telling that in their respective theatres — the Middle East, Europe and Eurasia — the prime strategic directive for liberal bulwarks Israel, Britain and the United States is to block aspiring authoritarian hegemons.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2020
This fellow Guy Stagg did what I failed to do in reverse: walked from Canterbury to Jerusalem.
Saturday, May 30th, 2020
The editor of Spiked castigates the media for misreporting facts on Dominic Cummings’ lockdown behavior. But Brendan O’Neill’s focus on possibly disingenuous facts misses the larger disheartening truth.
Which is that a senior head needs to roll for the UK Government’s humiliating and deadly botching of its initial response to the pandemic. (That many of the leaders themselves contracted the disease is emblematic of this failure.)
Since elections will not be held for years, the next best thing to the PM’s head is that of his high-profile advisor. And this is fitting: as the great visionary and strategist, Cummings should have been the one who got the PM to take the pandemic seriously in good time.
So the details of Cummings’ hypocritical behaviours under lockdown are merely the pretext for some just humiliation for him and this Government. His firing would be the catharsis that marks entry into the next phase of this pandemic; indeed these are political norms. Instead however we slouch further into uncharted territory — political as well as medical and economic.
Sunday, April 19th, 2020
The eleven days in question are 12th–23rd March. Eleven days in which the [UK] government decided to give up with contact tracing and do, well, nothing. Mass gatherings were still allowed (because “science”). Concerts and racing and Champions’ League football. Pubs. Public transport. Everything. The over-70s, it must be conceded, were advised to avoid cruises.
Friday, April 3rd, 2020
Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
Nusseibeh’s central thesis (well, secondary thesis, the primary implicit one being that the Palestinian people should all along have appointed both his Dad and then him their oh-so-reluctant leaders) I too have felt almost in my bones: that Israelis and Palestinians are natural allies. Or, more accurately, that there’s a natural affinity which will enable us to be powerful allies if and when we ever get over our admittedly fundamental conflict.
Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
Devi Sridha, Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, had been trying to sound the alarm about the British herd-immunity approach with pieces such as “Britain had a head start on Covid-19, but our leaders squandered it”.
Saturday, March 28th, 2020
Sunday, January 26th, 2020
Wednesday, December 18th, 2019
Counterintuitive arguments from the redoubtable Ambrose Evans-Pritchard that Boris’s ascension reduces the plausibility of Scottish secession from the UK.
Saturday, December 14th, 2019
“Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict” — the inaugural James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Lecture in Economic Inequality at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics by Thomas Piketty (March 30th, 2018).
Labour is now populism for the lightly-educated middle-classes, argues John Gray with stonking cogency — and, it turns out a month later at the December 2019 election, accuracy. Until 2008 the Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, Gray has been referred to by one Nassim Nicholas Taleb as “prophetic”.
Tuesday, October 29th, 2019
The Tube Ronnies complete with transcript, thanks to the invaluable IanVisits.
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
Dr Alex Joffe notes that while the West’s working classes are still relatively sensible, “in Western social and information environments saturated with virtue-signaling, [grafting BDS onto contemporary concerns and movements”:https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/bds-antisemitism-class/ is] having some success with members of the image-conscious, predominantly white middle class.
Sunday, October 13th, 2019
George Friedman on Brexit: it is very likely to happen, as is the painful shift to increased ties with the Anglosphere.
Wednesday, October 9th, 2019
I wish there were something to disagree with in this piece reviewing the fiasco that is Brexit. We see now that due to the United Kingdom’s very make-up — a dominant England, a smaller Scotland, and a Northern Ireland with inherent connections to the Republic of Ireland — Britain needs to be in the EU arguably more than many other European countries do. Surely some game theory simulations would have borne out the current impasse.
Saturday, September 28th, 2019
Thursday, August 8th, 2019
Past and immediate future: two gangbusters op-eds in The Spectator on Britain and Brexit, one by Dominic Green, Life & Arts Editor of Spectator USA, “Donald Trump is the best prime minister Britain never had”, which races through almost a century of pandering fecklessness by Britain’s mandarins; and one by Robert Peston, ITV’s Political Editor, ”Why a no-deal Brexit is now overwhelmingly likely“, reasoning that Brexiteers would be unified under a general election whereas Remainers would be unified under a second Brexit referendum, hence we will get the former.
Thursday, July 25th, 2019
Firecracking and bursting with spunk, BoJo addresses Parliament for the first time as PM.
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019