Wednesday, October 25th, 2023
Thank you, Andrew Neil, for your impassioned piece; even in your underwear you are a national treasure.
Given what we now know, can anybody doubt that Hamas would rival the Nazis in scale and the industrialisation of genocide if they had the opportunity and the resources?
Monday, October 23rd, 2023
You gotta larf. On the same day that the BBC posts an article about marchers chanting “Jihad!” in London…
“Jihad” literally means “effort” or “struggle” in Arabic. In Islam the main meaning is an internal struggle, such as a believer’s struggle to live in accordance with their faith. Jihad can also be an outward struggle or war, which in Islamic teaching must be in self defence and within prescribed limits.
…National Review posts its lampoon of an academic’s apology “Sorry You Misinterpreted My Comments about Israel”, with notes such as:
It should be noted that, in Arabic, the word “massacre” has a different connotation than it does in English, denoting something akin to “an internal struggle to alter the religious composition of a geographical area.”
Tim Stanley at The Telegraph also has a go:
And what are we to make of those activists shouting for Jihad who[m] the Met declined to arrest because, according to its finest theologians, Jihad has “a number of meanings”? For me it suggests the name of a balmy port in Oman, of nights of perfume and satin, caressed by Arabian breezes. For others it means “kill all Jews” – and the inability to infer the bleeding obvious exposes a moral blindness in British society.
Saturday, October 21st, 2023
Discomfiting and Olympian, this top story at UnHerd “Israel is no longer Britain’s war” by Aris Roussinos:
Discomfiting because he opens with:
…as the righteous bloodlust of the sensible centrists has been awoken once again…
Ouch. And Olympian because he steps way back to look at the issues, beginning with:
Though there is no obvious linkage between any of these matters, if I knew your opinions on wokeness or gender issues, or on Net Zero or Covid restrictions, then I could ascertain, with 99% accuracy, your opinions on a distant ethnic conflict in the Middle East.
If you hate Human beings, chances are you will hate the Jews.
Sunday, August 20th, 2023
A nice thread at Hacker News on Shit Life Syndrome with a particular focus on British seaside towns.
Monday, August 14th, 2023
The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Metropolitan Elite
After realizing I am in complete agreement with whatever I’ve read by Michael Lind, I turned to his book The New Class War. Here Lind details how we got to the current dysfunction whereby the social order set in place after WW2 broke down during the 70s as a result of pressures from ideas from both the political left and right, leading to the majority losing power to the elites.
His fix is to reinstate democratic pluralism by re-establishing trade (guilds), local civic (wards) and religious (congregations) institutions and giving them power. But how to make that happen? Lind notes that historically only rivalry with another power has forced elites to re-enfranchise the majority, as it’s how to best marshal the nation to its fullest ability.
And indeed, there is something that might achieve this, a single issue around which the Left and Right, the majority and the elites, can agree on, which is that China must be contained.
Sunday, April 23rd, 2023
In The Telegraph, A multi-faceted layman’s tour of the differences between the US and UK economies.
Thursday, March 2nd, 2023
Thursday, January 19th, 2023
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
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.
Sunday, November 20th, 2022
… 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.
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, sufficiently reputable that Walter Russell Mead seems unwilling to criticize them by name, sufficiently retrograde however 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 exist. 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 this support comes 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.
Thursday, September 22nd, 2022
Israel’s patience and humility is rewarded first by Trump and now by Truss: the UK may follow the US in relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv the seafront metropolis to Jerusalem the capital.
Wednesday, June 29th, 2022
In The Atlantic, a beautifully—if overly politely—written piece on family estrangement, the sting is in the head; no doubt to get it past the young
censors editors, the author has expunged all mention of religion and therefore duty from his discussion, save in this first line, which encompasses all that follows: “Sometimes my work feels more like ministry than therapy.” Author Joshua Coleman is a practicing therapist and prolific author. Looking around, his fee per webinar on the topic is $25. And he’s also a tv composer!
Anyhoo, the plot thickens, and my suspicions are correct: while he squeezed them out of the text body, he shoehorned in his convictions at the very edges as frames; look at this 1-star Amazon review of his book by one Acer Girl:
He fails to recognise how the nuclear family itself is being redefined and gay/lesbian parents are becoming more accepted, so it is rather inevitable that people will start to place less emphasis and importance on blood ties alone – so I really don’t understand the alarmism he tries to create around this. Above all, what I found really demoralising is his attack on one of the founding principles of western civilisation – autonomy and individual liberty. People’s right to live their lives in whatever way they wish and to associate and disassociate with whomever they wish. He claims this right should be policed.
And the final piece in the puzzle: he himself has been cut off by his own daughter! Estrangement is an underly-noted fault-line in the post-religious West; whether to honor or cast off the 5th commandment to honor one’s father and one’s mother — that has become a question.
Thursday, May 26th, 2022
The Londonist surveys Platinum Jubilee afternoon teas. Lovely foodie photography.
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.