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Life Ring iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Sunday, January 14th, 2018.

Train Station with Angles
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Train Station with Angles iPhone SE 2020 Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland Wednesday, March 20th, 2024.

Celtic are Turds
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Celtic are Turds iPhone SE 2020 Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland Wednesday, March 20th, 2024.

Glasgow’s One Giant Glass Ceiling
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Glasgow’s One Giant Glass Ceiling iPhone SE 2020 Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland Tuesday, March 19th, 2024.

Goodbye Old Friends
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Goodbye Old Friends iPhone SE 2020 Brighton, East Sussex, England Thursday, February 22nd, 2024.

Custard & Bricks
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Custard & Bricks iPhone 8 Brighton, East Sussex, England Saturday, September 24th, 2022.

Humble Threshold
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Humble Threshold iPhone 8 Brighton, East Sussex, England Sunday, May 22nd, 2022.

Cow Cafe
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Cow Cafe iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Sunday, June 7th, 2020.

Infrastructure Overview
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Infrastructure Overview iPhone 6S Monday, January 20th, 2020.

Boring 747
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Boring 747 iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Thursday, November 29th, 2018.

Skydarking
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Skydarking iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Tuesday, June 5th, 2018.

Dusk Drama
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Dusk Drama iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Tuesday, June 5th, 2018.

Tranquilo
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Tranquilo iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Tuesday, June 5th, 2018.

The Return of Stromberg
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The Return of Stromberg iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Wednesday, May 30th, 2018.

Harlequin Ed
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Harlequin Ed iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Thursday, April 19th, 2018.

Aquamarine
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Aquamarine iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Saturday, April 14th, 2018.

Fire Lasers
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Fire Lasers iPhone 6S Hyde Park, London, England Wednesday, April 11th, 2018.

Joins
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Joins iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Monday, April 9th, 2018.

Bright
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Bright iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Friday, April 6th, 2018.

By the Seaside
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By the Seaside iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Monday, February 19th, 2018.

Eros from the Bus
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Eros from the Bus iPhone 6S London, England Wednesday, February 14th, 2018.

Sou-hwick Square
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Sou-hwick Square iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Sunday, January 28th, 2018.

Same in Hebrew
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Same in Hebrew iPhone 6S East Sussex, England Sunday, January 28th, 2018.

Needed a Break
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Needed a Break iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Saturday, January 20th, 2018.

Life Ring
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Life Ring iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Sunday, January 14th, 2018.

New Lights
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New Lights iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Sunday, January 14th, 2018.

•••

About

Briefs

Sunday, March 31st, 2024

It’s in The Guardian so you know what’s coming in this restaurant review of Freddie’s, a New York-style non-kosher Jewish deli, plus they telegraph it in the title, so that in falling for the clickbait I skip the whole salt-beef bit to the predictable meat of the thing:

For all my lack of faith or observance these dishes, kept alive by a vestigial memory of the shtetl, root me. Then I hesitated. Could I really write about a Jewish restaurant given the current political turmoil? Would I get abuse for doing so? Surely better to keep shtum. At which point I knew I had no choice: I had to write about it. The horrendous campaign of the government and armed forces of Israel in Gaza cannot be allowed to make being Jewish a source of shame. When Hamas mounted their 7 October attack on Israel, they committed both an atrocity and a provocation. With so many hostages taken, there were no good options for the Israeli government. Nevertheless, they managed to choose the very worst one. They have killed thousands, starved many more, destroyed homes and turned their country into a pariah. As it happens, they have also made life for Jews who live outside Israel and have no responsibility for the decisions its government takes, so very much harder. I deplore what Israel is doing. But that doesn’t mean I can “refute” my Jewishness. That is a surrender to antisemitism. And so I sit here with my terrific salt beef sandwich and my chocolate mousse, indulging that bit of my Jewish identity which makes sense to me. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.

As a British Israeli my reaction to this sort of thing is always a multi-level “ugh”. But having returned recently to my native Glasgow for a Jewish funeral, I was reminded of what I would likely have been if my parents hadn’t made Aliyah to Israel when I was a child — and moreover since I have now lived in the UK again for a long time is arguably what I have reverted back to being. (Noooooo!)

Nonetheless it’s hard for me to feel anything but contempt for people who stroke the tiger in the hope it will eat them last.

And yet I must understand that as people who are primarily Britons their prism is the BBC, and as right-thinking people it’s likely The Guardian and its ilk, so this is what they may actually believe. But is the reviewer truly speaking in good faith? He says Israel chose the very worst course of action but does not articulate what other better ones might have been. Write a very stroppy letter?

Also, if a sandwich is the extent of his Jewish identity, he’d probably do better shucking it off altogether and embracing something else more all-encompassingly. I don’t mean that disparagingly, but men are meaning machines and if he’s not getting much out of Judaism then it is occupying a space in his soul that could perhaps otherwise be more fruitfully filled.

Levantine Israel is such a monumental and cosmic gift — especially for the rain-soaked British Jew who must otherwise seek any anthropological depth in Druidism and sun in other countries such as Spain (a pretty fabulous alternative it’s true). So I think it is folly for a British Jew to not embrace that mainline connection to Israel; Britons have a passion for the Middle East and now Jewish Britons have their own ancient piece of it again.

But that is all very well when it was done for you as a child or if you are wealthy enough to maintain an additional home and travel frequently. But for most of us, as I was reminded at the funeral, we grow up and get up and go to work, lifelong dalliances with distant exotic countries way beyond reach. And even for those who have the means to have additional homes, the center of gravity of their psyche and viewpoint is British. I need to understand that about British Jews who did not make Aliyah, which is most of them.

On one hand, I can see how the current war unites Jews in their fate, while on the other I can see how the cleavage in the West between appeasement and struggle runs right down the middle of Diaspora Jewry.

Saturday, February 10th, 2024

Michael Freund responds nicely to David Cameron’s announcement that the UK is looking into recognizing the Palestinians as a state by looking at Britain’s own various occupations.

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.

I do disagree however with an important part of the initial premise, as I think there very much are linkages among these issues. To quote the rather indignant Likud MK Amir Weitmann:

If you hate Human beings, chances are you will hate the Jews.

Sunday, August 20th, 2023

Monday, August 14th, 2023

The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Metropolitan Elite

Michael Lind

♦♦♦♦

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

A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion

Tom Segev

♦♦♦♦

Just as author Tom Segev relates that Ben-Gurion increasingly harked back to the episodes that shaped him in his earlier life, so too are these episodes more vivid to us than later ones. This would be fine and even impressive as a literary gambit, having the reader feel about Ben-Gurion’s life the way Ben-Gurion himself did, but at least for this reader it was somewhat disappointing in that it’s the later events — founding and leading the State of Israel — that we are reading for. But again, this too may be a literary achievement, suggesting that for the subject of this biography, it was the younger man’s experiences that were important — and that by extension this is the case for all lives. But I’m not sure that’s accurate; surely the ambitious younger Ben-Gurion would have been overjoyed at the eventual achievements of his later self.

It’s a strange complaint to make, but I feel this book wasn’t long enough; each of the many episodes, particularly the later more historic ones, I felt could have withstood more detail.

I was pleased to learn of Ben-Gurion’s erratic behavior and attitude towards his family, and of his penchant for travel and mild but somewhat constant womanizing, and his growing intellectualism alongside faddishness. Segev concludes that Ben-Gurion’s philosophical disposition is basically that of Anglo-American liberal; all to the good. Almost. The implication is that this temperate poise made him the wise indispensable man, but also open him to more exciting dead-end intellectual enthusiasms.

Friendships, sex, religious relations, despair — the richness of the subject matter’s life encourages in the reader a life in politics as it’s a life in full.

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

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

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

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

Social media is the opium of the 21st century, and the young tech wizards who infest Silicon Valley are the moral successors of the young Etonians who forced India to grow the drug and forced China to buy it.

David P. Goldman, How the Virtual Empire Corrupted America: My January 2000 Warning

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

The Man with the Golden Gun

Ian Fleming

♦♦♦

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

Happy day: rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flew synchronized flights from London to New York to mark the end of Covid-based travel restrictions to the USA, reports Airline Geeks.

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:

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

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

With this panegyric to airport culture, Eva Wiseman riffs on a Vice story about young Britons going to the airport to get (earthly) high and hang out. As a Briton I find this awesome, even while as an Israeli I find it a bit pitiful (ie, just go to the beach!).

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

What a huge story, Britain and France’s commitment to nuclear power, despite it being economically nonsensical in 2020, what with renewables ever cheaper. The amazing Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on nuclear power as a way to finance the Royal Navy.

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

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

index topics uk uk

Israel–Iran Proxy War, Day #50

Midway through the hostage deal and ceasefire are two concerns: will the ceasefire become permanent, letting Hamas remain in place? And on what basis does US support for the war rest and will it continue?

Simchat Torah War, Day #17

The US sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, Israel postponed its ground incursion, and the Western media acknowledged its erroneous reporting.

Arab Insanity Pull-up

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

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)

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

Cool, calm, collected, and with casually brilliant staging. IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi provides the official Israeli miltary speech in response to the massive Iranian missile attack.

Amidst all this it’s a happy thought that Germany sold Israel a doomsday device (Dolphin subs) and a couple of decades later Israel is selling Germany an anti-doomsday device. Ben-Gurion and Adenhauer.

Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

OK I need to stop reading the news, but one more, this diatribe in Arutz7:

To me, the word “State” has demeaning connotations in the English speaking world. What other country on this planet is referred to and refers to itself as the State of…….? To be referred to as a “State” implies a not quite equal status with other nations, implying some benevolent authority has graciously bestowed a degree of autonomy to Israel. It is time that Israelis and Diaspora Jews refer to Israel as Israel, period.

I see no need to take issue with the term “state”; we are in good company with the United States of America. Like them we explicitly acknowledge the legalistic framework within which the American and Israeli peoples live at liberty. There may even be some positive connotations; we live now in a state of Israel, as opposed to the previous state. At any rate, many nationstates have political prefixes that are ignored and shortened to their national names: République française is just France, for example, and the State of Israel is usually referred to as just Israel.

Giora Eiland’s commentary on Channel 12 last night warranted its own story this morning on Arutz7, with him arguing that the response to Iran’s attack should be to focus on Lebanon.

Israel does not need to attack in Iran. There is no reason for it, and it has the potential to become complicated militarily, as well as regionally and with all of our friends – and the achievement will not be significant, regardless. If you want to put Iranians in their place and maybe even test them – there are two other arenas: One is in Syria.

There is merit here, though I think his suggested mechanism, to announce Israel’s return to the North for the school year, is fatuous. Both the low- and the high-level attacks from Hamas and Iran respectively point to a response aginst the mid-level main threat from Lebanon. Even if it doesn’t happen visibly — Bibi’s response seems to be to keep things simple and retaliate against actual perpetrators — it does feel like the appropriate true focus.

Kudos to Britain’s Daily Mail for publishing the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ piece “Why Israel’s failure to strike back at Iran could lead to NUCLEAR WAR by FDD’s chief exec Mark Dubowitz and senior fellow Jacob Nagel.

Israel was acting well within the rules of its dangerous neighborhood by taking out [Mohammad Reza Zahedi, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force in Syria and Lebanon]. But the Ayatollah responded with a potentially catastrophic barrage on Israeli civilians, military bases and government facilities. If Iran walks away from this moment without paying a severe price, Tehran may be emboldened to deploy its weapons again. And the next time, these drones and missiles may be armed with nuclear or chemical payloads.

Their conclusion is indisputable and anything else is either appeasement or overthinking.

Monday, April 15th, 2024

Wonderful piece in Commentary by Seth Cropsey (I jumped to the family name and he is indeed the son of University of Chicago scion Joseph Cropsey) ““American Strategy on the Brink” that really gets to the heart of the matter”: The United States is shirking its responsibilities on the world stage:

All three instances of ongoing violence [Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan] stem fundamentally from a crisis in American power. These theaters are afire because Washington refuses to recognize what it is—the center of a loosely democratic system that spans Eurasia and the Americas. Culturally and strategically, the Rimland is being punished for the blindness at its core.

From “Israel’s Splendid Isolation” by John Podhoretz in Commentary:

Jews literally did not have the means or the ability to defend themselves for more than two millennia. Now we do. And when we do, we become unnerving. The very phrase “Jewish army” was, since 70 C.E.., the definition of an oxymoron. Now it conjures up something powerful, and the fact that it’s powerful at all means for many that it’s far too powerful. When Israel acts in its own defense, it alienates these people and these nations. And thereby “isolates” itself.

I can say it with confidence: I love you jpod.

Writing brief essays now on X, Victor Davis Hanson lists Ten Ways to Guarantee a Theater-wide War:

Vapid “Don’t!” … Abruptly pull out of Afghanistan … Chinese spy balloon … [okay a] “minor” invasion [of Ukraine] … Seem eager to resume the Iran Deal …

Etc.

Monday, April 8th, 2024

This Dearborn crowd musters up a “Death to America” chant (though the speaker to his credit doesn’t say it). Stupid fucks.

Rice cultures around the world do tend to exhibit similar cultural characteristics, including less focus on self, more relational or holistic thinking and greater in-group favoritism than wheat cultures.

The last time I came across this sort of diet-based sociology was in Nietzsche, where it struck me as both significant and true while feeling outlandish and ridiculous when repeated. So it’s nice to see it treated academically. Here’s one bit in Nietzsche, Aphorism #134 in La Gaya Scienza (he probably mentions it elsewhere too):

Pessimists as Victims. When a profound dislike of existence gets the upper hand, the after-effect of a great error in diet of which a people has been long guilty comes to light. The spread of Buddhism (not its origin) is thus to a considerable extent dependent on the excessive and almost exclusive rice-fare of the Indians, and on the universal enervation that results therefrom.

I enjoyed this very nice primer on editing by Eva Parish. Of her 9 recommendations, the one I fall down on most in my own occasional scribblings is “Be aware of your tone”, which is actually quite an expansive, non-technical problem. I guess I try to mix up the high and low due to insecurity that I’m a bore and aim to jolt and amuse the reader awake — but Eva argues that the mix is confusing and distracting.

I think however she is wrong to restore commas after prefixing subordinate clauses. Her examples:

Example: If you’re looking for me I’ll be in my office.
Revision: If you’re looking for me, I’ll be in my office.
Example: Due to the fog our flight was delayed.
Revision: Due to the fog, our flight was delayed.

My take instead: if the sentence is unambiguous without the comma then lean towards omitting it. Especially with the second example, with the clause being only four syllables long, the comma slows down the reader so much that the music of the sentence is broken. “Fog our flight” cannot be misinterpreted — nobody thinks of fogging a flight. Indeed the lack of a comma foretells to the reader they can confidently plow ahead through a well-tended sentence.

Her admonition to avoid the vague “this” — is new to me or else I’d forgotten it from The Little Red Schoolhouse, even though it fits very much into the Schoolhouse’s insistence of chaining sentences together nicely, and I will keep it in mind.

Via Hacker News, this Chrome for Developers post dives into browser colors beyond RGB.

Saturday, April 6th, 2024

He’s very good, is Brendan O’Neill, and I’m glad The Spectator is publishing him. “The Truth About Friendly Fire”:

Across social media, the cry goes up: Israel did this on purpose. It seems Israel is the only state not allowed to make mistakes. Where us decent Westerners kill friends in error, Israel does it intentionally, with malice at its heart.

Who would have thought this would be published in such a well-known British magazine. There is hope.

It seems that some in the West are seeking to launder their reputations through attacking Israel. From Cameron to Biden, powerful men who have been involved in wars far more horrific and far less justified than Israel’s war on Hamas, are now pontificating against the Jewish State.

But their finger-wagging attempt at rehabilitating their own reputations by slighting others’ — and hang the risk even unto civilization itself — does burnish at least one aspect of their respective reputations, ie being a sleazeball.

Thursday, April 4th, 2024

How gratifying, the plethora of common-sense comments reacting to this rather less-than-sensible Telegraph story “How international law could force Britain to stop arms sales to Israel” which furthers the tradition of latching on to that weird and mealy-mouthed “plausible” ruling by the ICJ.

Was this the Court’s intent, to say something with plausible deniability so that the very many people who want it to have said a thing can act as if it did? I in turn am latching on to that possibility to accuse it all of being quite transparent, truly despicable, and dangerously corrosive.

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024

In Mosaic Magazine, a sweeping history of Israel v. Lebanon by Raphael BenLevi.

Israel’s geography currently provides it with reasonably defensible borders on three sides: the Mediterranean to the west, the Sinai Desert to the south, and the Jordan Valley to the east. Israel’s northern border, however, is not defined by a sea, a vast desert, or even a major river. Rather it is a man-made line that cuts through mountains, valleys, farms, and forests. This has been the case since antiquity, making the northern border of ancient Israel the hardest to defend.

The article mirrors one that I linked to from exactly three months ago on Gaza by Jean-Pierre Filiu in Foreign Affairs.

We all know that if these tattooed trustafarians who think men can breastfeed went anywhere near Gaza their pronouns would be was / were quicker than you could say ‘Free Palestine!’.

Brendan O’Neill, “The unbearable sanctimony of the ‘pro-Palestine’ set”

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024

In an interview with Israeli radio station 103fm, Yarden Pivko, daughter of Hamas hostage Itzik Gelertner, denounces the Kaplanistas hijacking the hostage crisis. Kudos to 103fm for airing this despite their and all media-luvvy institutional sympathy for Kaplanism.

Sunday, March 31st, 2024

Good ep of Mike Doran and Gadi Taub’s allcaps ISRAEL UPDATE podcast “Is the US Stabbing Israel in the Back?”

It’s in The Guardian so you know what’s coming in this restaurant review of Freddie’s, a New York-style non-kosher Jewish deli, plus they telegraph it in the title, so that in falling for the clickbait I skip the whole salt-beef bit to the predictable meat of the thing:

For all my lack of faith or observance these dishes, kept alive by a vestigial memory of the shtetl, root me. Then I hesitated. Could I really write about a Jewish restaurant given the current political turmoil? Would I get abuse for doing so? Surely better to keep shtum. At which point I knew I had no choice: I had to write about it. The horrendous campaign of the government and armed forces of Israel in Gaza cannot be allowed to make being Jewish a source of shame. When Hamas mounted their 7 October attack on Israel, they committed both an atrocity and a provocation. With so many hostages taken, there were no good options for the Israeli government. Nevertheless, they managed to choose the very worst one. They have killed thousands, starved many more, destroyed homes and turned their country into a pariah. As it happens, they have also made life for Jews who live outside Israel and have no responsibility for the decisions its government takes, so very much harder. I deplore what Israel is doing. But that doesn’t mean I can “refute” my Jewishness. That is a surrender to antisemitism. And so I sit here with my terrific salt beef sandwich and my chocolate mousse, indulging that bit of my Jewish identity which makes sense to me. It’s not much, but it’s all I have.

As a British Israeli my reaction to this sort of thing is always a multi-level “ugh”. But having returned recently to my native Glasgow for a Jewish funeral, I was reminded of what I would likely have been if my parents hadn’t made Aliyah to Israel when I was a child — and moreover since I have now lived in the UK again for a long time is arguably what I have reverted back to being. (Noooooo!)

Nonetheless it’s hard for me to feel anything but contempt for people who stroke the tiger in the hope it will eat them last.

And yet I must understand that as people who are primarily Britons their prism is the BBC, and as right-thinking people it’s likely The Guardian and its ilk, so this is what they may actually believe. But is the reviewer truly speaking in good faith? He says Israel chose the very worst course of action but does not articulate what other better ones might have been. Write a very stroppy letter?

Also, if a sandwich is the extent of his Jewish identity, he’d probably do better shucking it off altogether and embracing something else more all-encompassingly. I don’t mean that disparagingly, but men are meaning machines and if he’s not getting much out of Judaism then it is occupying a space in his soul that could perhaps otherwise be more fruitfully filled.

Levantine Israel is such a monumental and cosmic gift — especially for the rain-soaked British Jew who must otherwise seek any anthropological depth in Druidism and sun in other countries such as Spain (a pretty fabulous alternative it’s true). So I think it is folly for a British Jew to not embrace that mainline connection to Israel; Britons have a passion for the Middle East and now Jewish Britons have their own ancient piece of it again.

But that is all very well when it was done for you as a child or if you are wealthy enough to maintain an additional home and travel frequently. But for most of us, as I was reminded at the funeral, we grow up and get up and go to work, lifelong dalliances with distant exotic countries way beyond reach. And even for those who have the means to have additional homes, the center of gravity of their psyche and viewpoint is British. I need to understand that about British Jews who did not make Aliyah, which is most of them.

On one hand, I can see how the current war unites Jews in their fate, while on the other I can see how the cleavage in the West between appeasement and struggle runs right down the middle of Diaspora Jewry.

With this return to protests the Kaplanistas have chosen to learn nothing, to refuse to acknowledge their part in contributing to the machdal of Oct 7. They think they are melach ha-aretz, the salt of the earth, but in fact serve as perhaps-not-so-unwitting secular neturei karta [Update 2024 April 6: via Gadi Taub, they’ve been dubbed Neturei Kaplan!], prepared like their nihilistic sociological counterparts the BLM supporters to try to blow up their own societies just to see what happens next. As such they are the very opposite of the responsible and the educated that they fancy themselves to be, and undermine the mamlachtiut they ostensibly are out to promote. They give succor and encouragement to the enemy whom they presume, in their relapse back to provincial Orientalism, has no agency. And there is the minor issue of giving the gleeful foreign media an easy way to further bash Israel. As they air their internal grievances to Sky News I hope for the sake of their souls they each feel a sickly yet potentially redemptive wonder of: “What the hell am I doing”.

Saturday, March 30th, 2024

Eichler’s personal Eichler in Silicon Valley is on sale. It’s great, like mid-level Wright and perhaps a bit of Neutra combined.

Friday, March 29th, 2024

Good to see Amos Atza-El, Mr Middle Israel as he self-declares, still at it, this time on Russia and how Putin’s romance with the Jihadis echoes Stalin’s with the Nazis.

Thursday, March 28th, 2024

The most awesome new pic of Fallingwater I’ve perhaps ever seen beyond the standard 3/4 view. This is by Andrew Pielage, who was an official Artist-In-Residence at the time. The viewpoint and the lighting give us each step’s full floating horizontality and their cumulative effect. I can imagine Mr Wright commending the image.

Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

One of the principal functions of a modern university is to provide… masses of human material capable of exercising the responsibilities while accepting the limitations of a bureaucratic career.

Walter Russell Mead, Twilight of the Wonks

Friday, March 22nd, 2024

Culture is cultural appropriation is culture.

ASK

Tuesday, March 19th, 2024

Bibi to AIPAC and Bibi with John Spencer, urban warfare historian. What a high-octane human.

Sunday, March 17th, 2024

From what looks like his regular chair in his cluttered leafy office, Dan Schueftan — or should we call him Dr Dugri — provides a primer on Israel (dugri meaning something like English’s plainspokenness or brass tacks).

Reading up on Schueftan however, despite all the sagacity he seems the intellectual architect of much of the present misery, having advocating for unilateral withdrawals.

In retrospect one might be able to guess that this would be the general thrust of his advice, given his mercurial impatient demeanor; and that he gets the listener’s acquiescence — perhaps in Ariel Sharon’s case against their better judgment — with his many “ok?”s.

Saturday, March 16th, 2024

What a splendid piece by Charles Moore in The Telegraph on Israel.

Britain (with other powers) claims that Israel has been, in international law, the “occupying power” in Gaza even after it left the place in 2005. This is a strange idea, since the definition of occupation is “effective control”, which Israel even now does not have over the whole of Gaza.

If their subscription department was a bit less shady I’d totally resubscribe.

The official rejoinder to Chuck Schumer’s “Lost His Way” speech, given within days of Nathan Glazer’s statement at the Oscars:

We stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.

comes not from the Israeli government but from the Likud Party, thereby demonstrating the very content of its statement: that Israel is indeed “an independent and proud democracy” complete with political parties proud of their heritage.

Benny Gantz made a commendable statement condemning the speech to which Arutz Sheva commendably dedicated a story. While the Likud’s statement is exquisitely-crafted English, Gantz’s is more Israeli — less catty, more direct: first unabashed fulsome praise, then: “but he made a mistake.” Blunt yet surgical. Lapid meanwhile chose to harness the speech to rail on Netanyahu.

We make such a fuss of all these bloviations even as the situation rages. I like the take by Danny Cohen, a producer on Glazer’s movie, who, as reported by The Hill, said on the Unholy podcast:

My support for Israel is unwavering. Listen, it’s his film. He can stand up there and choose his own words.”

Commentary reports for duty too.

Thursday, March 14th, 2024

The worst news I’ve seen in a while [Hebrew]: The head of a Gaza clan has been assassinated by Hamas for collaborating with Israel. We need to not be fuckups in this crucial endeavor: empowering, enabling and ensuring acceptable alternatives to Hamas is the capstone to victory; all the battlefield victories come to naught without it and we are back to square one alongside some demolished buildings and bereaved locals.

Wednesday, March 13th, 2024

Anti-Israel Jews are not a political but a clinical sub-category.

Edward Luttwak

Howard Jacobson, I didn’t know you had it in you. So there is such a thing as a well-known public intellectual British Jew with at least half a bollock.

Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

Campy? It’s bloody rocket fuel darling. Happy 50th, Queens White and Black.

Thank you, past and likely future Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in particular for this Twitter post in memoriam for Dennis Yekimov, killed in action in Gaza. That big wide intelligent friendly face, and in the biographical notes:

He would hike dozens of kilometers in streams and in the hills of Jerusalem and the whole country.

Younger, betters versions of myself, that is how I see these heroic guys, who have so much to lose and are willing to lose it, and are doing so in the hundreds.

Monday, February 26th, 2024

My impression is that R2-D2 and C-3PO were the Laurel and Hardy, the comedy relief, with one being the superior intellect and dominant personality, pushing around a more innocent friend.

Mark Hamill

Monday, February 19th, 2024

Forget a 2-state solution: emulate the Emirates! In English, Mordechai Kedar explains a political horizon to Arutz Sheva. Update: In the wake of Bibi’s outline for post-war Gaza announced just a few days later, Kedar seems prescient, so much so that either he has the Cabinet’s ear or was tasked to float the notion.

As Rumsfeld say, if you can’t fix problem, make it bigger. So what we’re going for is not a 2-state nor even a 3-state but an 8+ statelets solution! I wonder if the Biden Administration will grudgingly go along with this. You know what, I’m guessing they will. Viva la chamulot!

Wednesday, February 14th, 2024

Gadi Taub at his best, in Tablet, saying “Sorry, but There Is No Two-State Solution”.

As a sidenote, it’s getting harder to differentiate among the various competent public intellectuals in terms of style these days; this could have been written by any number of people — Seth Mandel for one, who seems to be writing everything in Commentary these days.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

Jeremiah Rozman:

I want a homeland, not a 22,000 sq. km. Yad Vashem … Victory will ensure both Israel’s security and its image.

Monday, February 12th, 2024

Jason Fried again, with an insight into Apple’s new Vision Pro that one important value proposition is recording:

What I think is super interesting about the Apple Vision Pro is the potential to be able to literally see through someone else’s eyes. Not just see their field of vision — you can get at that with head or eyeglass mounted cameras — but to actually see where they’re looking. To know what they’re focused on. To lock in with them. To see how they see. To watch them look from their point of view. Standing in someone’s shoes is one thing, but even if you could do that, you’d still be looking through your own eyes. But to literally see as they’d see from someone else’s point-of-view perspective feels groundbreaking. If I was making an app for this, I’d call it “See With”.

For the past few months I’ve retreated from working on a software product to, well, for a month after October 7th I didn’t seem to get much work done, then I was working on software systems for clients. Now dipping my toe back into RSSDeck, the biggest edifice I’ve ever created, I’m inspired by this short piece by Jason Fried, “To Make”:

I’ve consulted. I’ve done client work. I’ve advised. I’ve served on boards. I’ve invested. I’ve written books. I’ve spoken on the circuit. I’ve blogged for years. I have to say, I’ve found no greater professional joy than working with a tight group of people to ship and support our own products.

Amazing that it took until 2024 for a Hacker News discussion on Deep Springs given the two bodies’ attitudinal overlap of intellectual arrogance.

The New York Post has published a post by Mordechai Nisan advocating that Gazans leave. After October 7th this position — “transfer” in Israeli parlance — went from the extremist fringe to being I think the unspoken mainstream preference among Israelis.

The world power with the strongest ideological opposition to transfer — apart from the Arabs still wanting to keep it as a bludgeon against Israel — is probably the USA, as it seems to go against the American grain of self-determination for peoples. But if the West Bankers manage to make a go of it — highly unlikely but still — then former Gazans could always migrate there again eventually if the call to return remains strong.

Saturday, February 10th, 2024

Michael Freund responds nicely to David Cameron’s announcement that the UK is looking into recognizing the Palestinians as a state by looking at Britain’s own various occupations.

Thursday, February 8th, 2024

It’s so weird reading The Telegraph’s news feed of the day’s events because it reads like Iranian Press TV, full of Israel’s dastardly deeds. I guess it’s like The Wall Street Journal where there’s a real schism between the leanings of the so-called news division vs the editorial section.

Wednesday, February 7th, 2024

I must admit I knew almost none of this history of Gaza as narrated by Jean-Pierre Filiu in Foreign Affairs. After long staying clear I think I’ll look more closely at this magazine.

Gaza’s sudden new prominence should hardly come as a surprise. Although little of it is remembered today, the territory’s 4,000-year history makes clear that the last 16 years were an anomaly; the Gaza Strip has almost always played a pivotal part in the region’s political dynamics, as well as its age-old struggles over religion and military power.

As the recounting reaches the present day, no mention is made of the fundamental wound kept open: that Palestinian refugee status is uniquely passed down the generations.

It’s most discomfiting, seeing prominent Israelis self-lacerate in foreign journals. Here Aluf Benn of Haaretz, whom I previously admired before he took up its editorship and thereby become responsible for its seditious bile, writes in Foreign Affairs a piece entitled “Israel’s Self-Destruction”.

He opens with Moshe Dayan’s now much-recalled eulogy for Roi Rotberg of Nachal Oz. Very quickly however two items give me pause. First, Benn refers to “Netanyahu’s effort to undermine [Israel’s] democratic institutions and turn it into a theocratic, nationalist autocracy” — this is obviously a very partisan view of the judicial reform bill. Second, Benn writes: “If they finally heed Dayan’s warning, the country could come together and chart a path to peace and dignified coexistence with the Palestinians.”

Tellingly, Benn does not link to the actual text of Dayan’s short speech, which is much more about advocating for a Jabotinsky-like iron wall than State Department-esque “risks for peace”. Dayan in fact refers to foreign mandarins quite colorfully as “the ambassadors of malevolent hypocrisy who call upon us to lay down our arms” and bleakly concludes that Roi himself was blinded by the notion that peaceful coexistence — of the sort Benn is implicitly pushing for — is possible.

 
 

•••

Newsroll

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

Where the design community meets.

experiments in refactored perception

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