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Israel, the Life Olympus C5050 Tel Aviv, Israel Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008.

Hodspot
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Hodspot Hod Hasharon, Israel Thursday, April 13th, 2023.

Installation Moved Me Brightly
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Installation Moved Me Brightly Monday, April 10th, 2023.

Hayarkon Park Promo
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Hayarkon Park Promo iPhone SE 2020 Tel Aviv, Israel Monday, April 10th, 2023.

North Tel Aviv Scene
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North Tel Aviv Scene Israel Trail, Israel Monday, April 10th, 2023.

Sphinx of Sorts
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Sphinx of Sorts iPhone SE 2020 Nice, France Monday, April 3rd, 2023.

Orange in Bloom
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Orange in Bloom iPhone SE 2020 Hod Hasharon, Israel Friday, January 27th, 2023.

Postwar Dignity
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Postwar Dignity iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Wednesday, May 5th, 2021.

Success
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Success iPhone 6S Tel Aviv, Israel Sunday, April 14th, 2019.

NE TLV
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NE TLV iPhone 6S Tel Aviv, Israel Sunday, April 14th, 2019.

Available Magic
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Available Magic iPhone 6S Tel Aviv, Israel Sunday, April 14th, 2019.

Downhome Downtown
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Downhome Downtown iPhone 6S Tel Aviv, Israel Friday, April 12th, 2019.

Stark Industry
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Stark Industry iPhone 6S Nantes, France Sunday, April 7th, 2019.

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

A Happier Paving
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A Happier Paving iPhone 6S Israel Tuesday, October 30th, 2018.

Through the Blind
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Through the Blind iPhone 6S Hod Hasharon, Israel Sunday, October 28th, 2018.

Moment in Shoreditch
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Moment in Shoreditch iPhone 6S London, England Thursday, October 11th, 2018.

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

Tinted
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Tinted iPhone 6S London, England Monday, November 27th, 2017.

Weather
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Weather iPhone 6S Brighton, East Sussex, England Monday, November 27th, 2017.

Stand by Your Man
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Stand by Your Man iPhone 6S Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017.

Vivid
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Vivid iPhone 6S Denver, Colorado Saturday, October 14th, 2017.

Saturday Afternoon
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Saturday Afternoon iPhone 6S Denver, Colorado Saturday, October 14th, 2017.

Before the Conference
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Before the Conference iPhone 6S Denver, Colorado Wednesday, October 11th, 2017.

•••

About

Briefs

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

The virtues involved in being a good driver —the mix of independence and cooperation, knowledge and responsibility — really are virtues well suited to citizenship in a sprawling and diverse republic.

Ross Douthat, “What Driving Means for America” by Ross Douthat in The New York Times

Sunday, July 3rd, 2022

While working on things that aren’t prestigious doesn’t guarantee you’re on the right track, it at least guarantees you’re not on the most common type of wrong one.

Paul Graham, What I Worked On

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

Saturday, April 30th, 2022

Blue Moon

Lee Child

♦♦

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

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

eVTOL Innovation YouTube channel extols the Lilium as the most promising of the upcoming ways we will fly.

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Pleased to see that Petach Tikva intends to effectively expand Hayarkon Park eastwards.

The plan includes 1,250 dunams (312.5 acres) for parklands, 1,066 dunam (266.5 acres) extension of the national park, 107 dunams (26.75 acres for sport, 642 dunams (135.5 acres) for agriculture, and 639 dunams (159.75 acres) for housing and employment. The plan will be sent for approval by the Central Israel Planning & Building Committee.

Friday, November 12th, 2021

In this fun review of the Succession episode “Lion in the Meadow” (though surely a better title would have been “King Kong Comes to Dance”), Andrew Gruttadaro quotes the episode’s closing line “a timely fucking Evian”. Having watched that scene a few times over last night, I thought, no, there is no adjective between “timely” and “Evian”. But rewatching the scene, I’m wrong — I didn’t even hear the fucking word, that’s how much we’ve debased it.

A timely Evian; like everything else in this episode, what a great line! And this review transcribes much of the juiciness. The author also has a short Twitter thread on one of its great set-pieces, Adrien Brody’s Josh Aaronson’s layers.

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

Geoff Boeing at Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis, USC, on the griddiness of cities — what an awesome topic for a rigorous paper!

All 16 cities with the lowest entropies are in the US and Canada. Outside of the US/Canada, Mogadishu, Kyoto, and Melbourne have the lowest orientation entropies. Surprisingly, the city with the highest entropy, Charlotte, is also in the US. São Paulo and Rome immediately follow it as the next highest cities. Chicago, the most ordered city, has a φ of 0.90, while Charlotte, the most disordered, has a φ of 0.002.

Venice, Mogadishu, Helsinki, Jerusalem, and Casablanca have the shortest median street segment lengths (indicating fine-grained networks) while Kiev, Moscow, Pyongyang, Beijing, and Shanghai have the longest (indicating coarse-grained networks).

Monday, October 4th, 2021

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

If you do business in LatAm, you’ve got a Miami office. Prodigal son Antonio García Martínez returns to Miami, now on a Substack-fueled writing mission.

I was raised in the Miami of the wild 80s and 90s, and more or less abandoned the city for 20 years before going back due to a family illness circa 2014. Much to my everlasting shock, all the twee fineries of overpaid SF tech life were there: pretentious craft beer poured by bearded lumbersexuals inside stylized industrial loft spaces; whimsically-named, garishly-painted food-trucks clustered in parking lots-turned-parks serving Korean/Mexican fusion tacos; pompous ‘Third Wave’ coffee places (in a city where espresso was already ubiquitous) featuring pierced baristas conjuring a pourover with all the seriousness of a priest performing the eucharistic miracle; glass-clad, high-rise condo buildings, indistinguishable from the same douche-cubes in SF’s SoMa (“GRANITE COUNTERTOPS, STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES”) growing like mushrooms in a dewy field throughout the formerly sleepy downtown.

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!).

Monday, March 8th, 2021

Cool — 10 upcoming skyscrapers. Interestingly, most of them seem to be in Toronto. I love the Zaha Hadid one, if that ever gets built.

Sunday, November 15th, 2020

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

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

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

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life

Sari Nusseibeh

♦♦♦♦

Nusseibeh’s central thesis (well, secondary thesis, the primary implicit one being that the Palestinian people should all along have appointed both his Dad and then him their oh-so-reluctant leaders) I too have felt almost in my bones: that Israelis and Palestinians are natural allies. Or, more accurately, that there’s a natural affinity which will enable us to be powerful allies if and when we ever get over our admittedly fundamental conflict.

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

This Gates Foundation presentation on global inequality is clear, straightforward, well-written, nicely illustrated with animated graphs, and surely worth the time of anyone who can access it.

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

The Closing of the Hi-Gloss Colonel of American Letters Tom Wolfe’s Eyes. The New York Times obituary by Deirdre Carmody and William Grimes.

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Even as the USA is troubled at the national level, it is often flourishing locally, argues James Fallows, who has spent five years criss-crossing the country with his wife.

“America is becoming more like itself again,” he writes. “More Americans are trying to make it so, in more places, than most Americans are aware.”

This is good, it seems to me; better than if the reverse were true.

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

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

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

He had me with his first-paragraph mention of Trattoria Da Enzo, my favorite. I’ve forwarded to visitors this panegyric to Rome by the incoming New York Times’ bureau chief. A lot of attractive restaurants mentioned and described. [via Juan Carlos Bronstein, who was unimpressed by the tone, as are many others in the comments]

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Friday, November 18th, 2016

This article features a list by Dan McNichol of suggested public works projects throughout the USA. He is author of The Roads That Built America, a history of the Interstate highway system (of which I actually have a copy).

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars; it’s where the rich use public transportation.

Petro Gustavo, Mayor of Bogota

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Considering how central it is for Londoners, Why is the Tube so underrepresented in stories? The writer suggests that, like sex and prayer, and unlike on the street, any human significance down there is internal.

Surely the definitive article about internet wunderkind Aaron Swartz. Only eating white or yellow food seems a glaring sign that not everything there was quite right.

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Low-density sprawl is ill-fitted to a creative, post-industrial economy.

Richard Florida

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

America’s housing bubble was the last gasp of suburbanism. In the information age, we need to get back to the cities.

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

See Lileks back skillfully into his Solzhenitsyn eulogy then relate his daughter’s birthday outing, both in the same piece.

Saturday, March 22nd, 2003

The best thing about New York is that the best thing about New York is its people.

ASK

Thursday, September 12th, 2002

It is now anachronistic to sport no anachronisms.

ASK

index topics urbanism urbanism

Arab Insanity Eroding

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

Denver Met

My intent here is not only to participate in a conference but to suck up myriad Americana as a thirsty exile catapulted back in for a primer.

Yes

It’s a Somewhat Rauschenberg World

I don’t like this use of animals, like Damien Hirst’s. The artist could not have asked the goat for permission so should not have assumed it was granted.

Black Tracks the Presidents

The great virtue of Conrad Black’s Flight of the Eagle is its steady track across the entirety of the nation’s history, treating each president equally under its own law and order.

Homepage Design 2016

Even if a web site appears differently at different screen sizes, it should still feel like itself. On a larger canvas more expression abounds; distill this into the smaller screen and get more personality; do “mobile first” second.

Yes

From iPhone 4S to 6S: An Appreciation

The increased size, something I was so hesitant about, feels fine to me now. And because it’s thinner it feels less obtrusive in my pocket.

Spectreview

With the villain’s quasi-sibling bond to the hero, 2015’s 007 movie deflates to an incestuous Möbius Strip.

In Gaza, Israel Should Own its Terrible Tactic

Although such excoriating labels as “collective punishment” and “state terrorism” aren’t entirely wrong regarding Israel’s application of the Dahieh Doctrine in Gaza, history does suggest that the method is effective in fighting a fundamentally defensive war.

Go Deny Yourself

This four-letter little word undermines our modern values of tolerance and presumption of innocence.

Some Consumer Affairs

I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.

Yes

From Nokia N95 to iPhone 4S

Annoyances and upsets with the iPhone 4S have been more than offset by its screen, the silkiness of its surfaces, the camera, and the third-party market for both software and hardware.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Dry, Juicy, Linear, Luminous

The dancers in the ape-suits; how they move is an incredibly energetic output for us. Contrast their physical reaction when witnessing the monolith to that of the astronauts in the newly-minted 21st century.

The Mouse and the Cantilever

Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.

Friendship is for Weenies

It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust US President Obama.

Before the Setup

It’s 1983: Go for the Apple IIe with 64k that could be opened up as a hobbyist machine? Or the smaller, sleeker and newer IIc with double the memory but a closed case?

At Modi’in Mall

There’s nothing else around here except empty desolate pretty hills. The Israel Trail passes by a bit to the west. The shops are mostly franchises, almost all homegrown: Super-Pharm, Aroma, Tzomet Sfarim, Cup O’ Joe’s, LaMetayel, Mega, Fox, Castro, H&O.

Yes

The Israel I Love, the Bad So Far

If the signage were a bit more effective, the staff’s diction and demeanor more professional, then we might have avoided this testy altercation.

Shanghai Europe

So, finally, we stopped yesterday; the Israeli assault on Gaza of late 2008/early 2009 is over. With it, Israel lost moral purity and made vital strategic gains.

Yes

Panning for MacBook Pro

Even if it did nothing, was just a prop in a futuristic movie, the MacBook Pro would be impressive; it’s like a sculpture of my previous computer, the MacBook, except it’s actually an improved computer!

Stop Yesterday

Is the goal of Israel’s current assault on Gaza to discourage Hamas from firing rockets or to render them incapable of doing so? These are two quite different projects.

Short-circuiting Place-based Longing

If there’s one tangible benefit to having lived in a variety of places it’s that it furnishes evidence of the futility of longing to be elsewhere.

A Crawl Across Crawley, Part 1

Irit, the Jam and I walk from Brighton to Gatwick Airport.

Clash of the Midgets

I was annoyed to have my sauna moments despoiled and dominated, reverberating with this old geezer’s most naff yap.

Yes

Israel’s Greatest Victory Since Osirak?

If Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was part of a masterplan to staunch the damage done by the victory of the Six Day War in 1967, then today we see another step in its unfolding.

The Small Adventures, Part 2

There in the empty restaurant by the water at Dieppe I had toast with foie gras, a carafe of red wine, a huge plate of mussels and chips, and finally a crème brûlée. Somehow, though I’ve eaten in restaurants hundreds of times, I felt grown up.

Yes

The Small Adventures

Late for the 11pm train to Milan, we enquired frantically among the taxis for one who’d accept the two dogs and take us to Termini Station so I could begin our journey to Britain.

Tony Blair and the Four-State Solution

Ariel Sharon’s disengagement policy reflected an understanding that ownership of the Palestinian issue is shared with Egypt and Jordan. If Tony Blair were to acquire this view, perhaps he really could help facilitate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A Restoration and Return

There she was, sitting outside the apartment block! How did she do it? Dogs—or at least Jam—must have some sort of navigational sense we don’t understand.

Curs to Fate

Yesterday I lost Jam in Villa Borghese, the central park here in Rome, some five miles from Talenti, the neighborhood where we’re staying. She has not turned up since.

Yes

Jam and Bread, Jam and Bread!

My dog Jam has spent over a third of her time here in Italy as her fixtures have fallen away—first Maddie, then me. But now I’m back!

Yes

This Trip’s Last Day

I went to Astor Place Haircutters. I crossed Manhattan Bridge on foot. I walked west along Canal St, seeking a bamboo steamer.

I, Thou and Pastor Bob

At the Calvary Church here in Fort Lauderdale the Biblical locations feel so far away that they can be abstracted and spiritualized. There is religious energy here.

Yes

The Big and Easy

The American stage is grand, as are the achievements and ambitions, but daily life seems lamed by a compulsive denaturing.

A Drop in Time

The camera hit the ground lens first, bashing it in so that it would no longer wind in and out, and couldn’t switch on. Without it, my perception of an important personal era was degraded.

A Ride to Gatwick Airport

Airports. They’re so charged, so symbolic, and so empty once you’re at one; I dream of them so often.

Only the Rustle in the Trees

Grief, loss — these are the great teachers surely. What one has will pass.

A Cabaret, Old Chum

It’s a last bastion of civility, being allowed to drink at Penn Station, Brian mused ruefully as we carried our beers to his train home to Great Neck.

Fatahland and Hamastan

Now Israel has a dog in a real Palestinian fight: the nationalists rather than the Islamists.

Yes

Stars, Stripes & Superlatives

Here in Los Angeles I am bombarded with superlatives. Daniel’s record collection. The Bikram Yoga College of India world headquarters. Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. All mixed in with the most ravaging mediocrity.

Shite on Brighton

“Like many provincial towns,” the Private Eye reviewer stabs, “Brighton, as depicted in this hacked-together tribute, defines itself more by what it isn’t than by what it is. It’s not London, for one thing.”

Daily Yin

For my first test of the day as day, I open the back door and step outside to the little patio to see the sky and feel the air. I realize not everybody does this, so if people tell me I’m a miserable bastard then perhaps this little habit will correct their impression.

Mind the Dream

Dreaming about our passed companions as if they are alive requires tricks to the dreaming mind to overcome what it believes and knows to be true.

The Dharma Tits

Buddhism is the philosophy and psychology closest to Cognitive Therapy and vice versa.

Yes

Still Got the Jam

Jam was one of Maddie’s nine puppies, the one who remained after the others were all taken. That was always my plan, to keep the runt.

Such a Tramp

Maddie, who died 18 months ago today, was a mangy mutt and stank, but she was also among the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever seen and for me the longest, richest, widest, deepest streak of feeling lucky.

So You Noticed

I have had something very flattering: a request. Juan Carlos has asked me for comments on Casino Royale.

Reminds Me of Tel Aviv

You get to a stage in life where you are already formed by the past. Thoughts and dilemmas about place are either central questions or a distraction from real issues.

Fly the Blag

Ryanair has brought wretchedness to the skies. Rather than existing on a privileged plane, you stew in a poisoned atmosphere.

Approaching Infinite Justice

Immediately after 9/11, the burgeoning war on terror was named “Operation Infinite Justice”. Within days it was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom”, but is the new name a mere cloaking of the first?

On the Seventh Day

The Mrs is skeptical of David Allen’s Getting Things Done self-management system because it eschews the rigors of time management in lieu of what feels right. But GTD is about informed feeling.

Don’t Panic!

An academic romp through Jewish American comedy starts out as a veritable rollercoaster ride, but grinds to halt with its obsession with one Bob Dylan.

Photographing a Handsome Old Man

I want to get people in my pics, but it’s tougher when you’re no longer a wide-eyed teenager, because people generally don’t like to think they are a spectacle.

The Beauty of Rain

Rain makes the rocks shine. It puts in motion things that are otherwise static. It illustrates gravity most prettily.

Ode to Salame

It’s supposed to be the arsehole of Tel Aviv, Salame Street, running east-west at its southern tip, but it always does me darn good.

I Love Laundry

How pleasing it is to have my own washing machine. If all isn’t right with the world, not even in my world, at least the laundry cycle is functioning.

Lovely Scenery, But Walks Getting Boring

Unless I drive somewhere new, it’s not much fun to just step out the door and wander. But driving to go for a walk seems a tad ridiculous.

For Love of Economy

It disturbs me to be driving a car that gets fewer kilometers to the shekel than did my previous.

Shinui and the Seven-Year Itch

How refreshing to see Asian faces out shopping in Tel Aviv, or Africans riding the bus to Ra’anana. With them Israel is given fresh wellsprings of culture.

Allah Help the Jackals

While it’s obvious that overplaying your power can result in a downfall, it’s less obvious that underplaying it also leads to trouble. America did this in the 1970s under Carter. Israel seems to have done it almost perennially.

Yes

For Tel Aviv, Better a Skylift Than a Subway

Rather than copycatting a transportation system from the 19th century, Israel could inject into its civic planning the same audacity and resourcefulness that it has historically brought to agriculture and defence.

Yes

Canada Obscura

There’s not a patch of water to be seen—the most liquid thing is the word “Coffee” on one of the low-slung strip-mall buildings. It’s a scene more artful than art itself.

Tour of Kitchen Duty

There was yelling and spray and I raced to keep up. One can enjoy, briefly, the company of men.

Shiny Bright Toadstool

In Israel’s case, burgernomics don’t add up because significant factors contribute to the 30%-odd surcharge on a Big Mac.

The Fresh Jewels of Spring Mound

Quality of life in Tel Aviv is fundamentally enhanced by two simple factors: trees are everywhere, and so are apartments.

Independence Park Up for Grabs?

To this day men of many ages walk these bushes, they delicately lurk these bushes, and stand in places odd to choose.

We Tri Harder

A land could be governed not only by the three separate arms of government, but by three sovereign states.

Yes

Tira Saunters

The one-lane road is empty; down below is the Sharon Plain, looking vast. Israel may be a small country but we’re still speaking here of land.

A Call to Thumbs

When you hitchhike it’s out of your hands, and that’s therapeutic. Paradoxically, you also see how much control you do have.

 

Briefs (cont’d)

Sunday, June 4th, 2023

Interesting, seeing Ars Technica’s slant on Twitter’s handling of Matt Walsh’s What is a Woman because, like most tech blogs, they lean establishment/woke, and I’d expect some pushback in the comments. But instead the comments are far more supportive of The Current Thing than is the piece itself, and quite a few condemn the author and the publication for irresponsibly posting a link to the film. Here’s one right-thinking gem by mikesmith (8y, 3,207 comments):

The next time a right-wing weirdo confidently declares that the definition of “woman” is inexorably linked to their genitalia ask them how many genitals they’ve personally inspected to be sure about it since they’re so confident.

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

Hugh Howey, author of Wool, the book(s) behind Silo, writes:

I believe future historians will look back and recognize the 1950s or thereabout as the time that we should’ve instituted a universal basic income.

Science-fiction writers are best-positioned to have something worthwhile to say about society — though that’s perhaps a tautology; he’s not just supporting a policy, but speculating at which point in time it ideally should have been enacted!

Tuesday, May 30th, 2023

In his Mr Smart Everyman way, John Gruber speaks to the eternal tags vs folders topic in this interview with the maker of a new Mac gmail client. I was shouting to the speaker though that folders aren’t just for the technically weak; they are a specific type of tag and are nestable, something that tags traditionally are not.

Monday, May 29th, 2023

How much has Microsoft changed really? Well, they’re doing unexpected things, but maybe they always did that. Here’s something cool from CB Insights on the Microsoft underwater data center from December 2018:

In 2016, Microsoft’s cloud-related patent application activity was twice that of Amazon and nearly 6x more than Google.

One example is Microsoft’s 2016 patent application for an Artificial Reef Datacenter. The patent is an iteration of a 2014 patent filed by Microsoft for a Submerged Datacenter.

In both patents, Microsoft looks to submerge data centers at the bottom of the ocean, which will cool the infrastructure naturally. In the earlier patent, Microsoft also outlined the possibility of using oceanic wind turbines to power the underwater data centers.

Since these patents were originally filed, Microsoft has begun work on Project Natick, an underwater data center off the coast of Scotland. The submerged data center runs on 100% locally produced renewable electricity from on-shore wind and solar as well as off-shore tide and wave sources.

But is this a PR stunt? There’ve been no Project Natick updates since July 9th, 2020. I suspect they just wanted to show the way for someone else to bother with the hard work, whom M$ would subsequently bend to their will by being their biggest customer.

Saturday, May 27th, 2023

The tone of this litany of complaints by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting author (and Orlando resident, I remember being told by a local taxi driver), reminds me of Victor Davis Hanson. I wonder on how many issue this ostensible leftist and rightist might actually agree.

Wednesday, May 24th, 2023

Some choice sentences regarding theses privileged medievalists blocking the way.

Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

At The Ringer, Succession via the prism of Tom:

Along with a five-figure Patek Philippe watch, Tom delivers a joke to Logan: “It’s incredibly accurate. Every time you look at it, it tells you exactly how rich you are.” Unimpressed, Logan says, “That’s very funny. Did you rehearse that?” … While watching Macfadyen in that scene, [Adam] McKay recalls, [Jesse] Armstrong leaned over to him and said, “Well, I’m going to have to expand this character.”

Monday, April 24th, 2023

Increasingly, Dan Senor’s weirdly-named podcast Call Me Back is becoming my favorite due to frequent regular output on topics close to my heart with authoritative guests. This is Micah Goodman on the Israel protests. He’s more sympathetic than I am towards the elitist tantrums protests but has the perspicacity to step back and view things historically.

Sunday, April 23rd, 2023

In The Telegraph, A multi-faceted layman’s tour of the differences between the US and UK economies.

Saturday, April 22nd, 2023

You’re looking at a story originally written to the ExpressionEngine content management system (albeit originally drafted on the MarsEdit blogging client for MacOS), but the web software stack I’ve migrated to is Strapi + Nuxt connected via GraphQL. With Strapi’s move from v3 to v4 however, significant changes have been made to how GraphQL is served, so much so that after reviewing things I am likely going to stick to v3, which is a first step in abandoning a software package completely. Some discussions by irate developers:

The Strapi team justifies the change by arguing that they are following the JSON:API standard but the numerous complaints point out how verbose this gets for queries that have deep nesting, with “data.attributes” all over the place.

Thursday, April 20th, 2023

Walter Russell Mead launches a new column in Tablet focused on American affairs domestic rather than foreign.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2023

In this tutorial by Martin Fowler for coding with ChatGPT, he interviews Xu Hao, who first tells the AI what tech stack he’s using, what the project is intended to be, and to generate not code but a list of tasks required to build it. He then tweaks this task list. And only then, working from the task list, do they begin generating code.

My take away from this discussion was that using chain of thought and generated knowledge prompting approaches can be a significantly useful tool for programming. In particular it shows that to use LLMs well, we need to learn how to construct prompts to get the best results. This experience suggests that it’s useful to interact with the LLM like a junior partner, starting them with architectural guidelines, asking them to show their reasoning, and tweaking their outputs as we go.

Monday, April 10th, 2023

Victor Davis Hanson is perhaps merely stating the obvious regarding America’s decline.

Sunday, April 9th, 2023

In his great book Where Is My Flying Car? author J. Storrs Hall suggests that perhaps the best way to measure the wealth of nations is in how much energy people in each country use. In a recent article at comparison site ElectricRate on the cost of electricity around the world, the table labeled “Percentage of Day’s Wages Needed to Buy Electricity” is perhaps an even better measurement. #1 is Norway, #3 is the USA, and Israel and the UK are #10 and #12.

Sunday, April 2nd, 2023

“The AI does not love you, nor does it hate you, and you are made of atoms it can use for something else.” — Eliezer Yudkowsky in Time

Tuesday, March 28th, 2023

What a mindblowing, humbling project: infinitemac.org — every Mac system since January 24th, 1984, in the browser!

At the Tikva Podcast, a national treasure, the fiercely smart Yehushua Pfeffer on the Haredi moment.

A couple of worthwhile recent podcast episodes: Dan Senor on Israel at the Commentary podcast and Kevin Kelly at Russ Robert’s EconTalk [both links via Overcast].

Saturday, March 25th, 2023

Woke:

  • its core demand: are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?
  • describes the ongoing cultural revolution which defines reality by its usefulness in achieving left-wing goals

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Israel and the UK have signed the 2030 Roadmap for UK-Israel Bilateral Relations. (Why oh why in the Vision section is there a comma before “signed”? Why the terrible digitized “two” in “as 2 innovation and technology leaders…”. And I really detest this recent UK-ism: “We are clear that democratic norms are…” — no, people are not clear that anything.)

Regarding the Abraham Accords, “the UK joins Israel in acknowledging [their] historic significance … which have the potential to enable profound advancements for security, co-existence, prosperity and peace for the region and its peoples.” Given Britain’s ties with the Gulf, it would be great if she dive in and actually catalyze things further.

And, stuck enthusiastically at the end of a paragraph on health cooperation: “Our ambition for closer, mutually beneficial ties is limitless.” Heartening!

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

Dean of American foreign policy Walter Russell Mead has lately abandoned his on-the-other-handism — to wit, the stentorian moral tone of his book Arc of a Covenant and its politely scathing attack on Mearsheimer and the like. In his latest Wall Street Journal piece, “Netanyahu’s Bid for a Role in Zionist History”, WRM casts his lot, characterizing Israel’s protests as rear-guard snobbery and prejudice, and ending with the audacity of hope that Bibi will find a way out of the current conundrum by means of sagacity beyond that even of Ben-Gurion.

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

Gadi Taub and Peter Berkowitz on the Israeli moment. Whereas Taub thinks the opposition must make the next move, Berkowitz (and also Sharansky) thinks the government must reach across the aisle since it’s the one in power.

Monday, March 13th, 2023

Friday, March 10th, 2023

In Rome, Netanyahu speaks to La Repubblica. “What we can do is protect our freedoms,” he says, “using force if necessary, for as long as possible…” This is the second time in recent weeks I’ve heard the great man introduce this concept of existence as temporary. Not that it’s not true, but it’s unusual to hear a national leader speak that way. Intimations perhaps of his own mortality. Anyway, I love that he is coming with a vivid clear ask: Roma, recognize Yerushalayim.

In Mosaic Magazine, the redoubtable Evelyn Gordon lays out the issue of Israel’s judicial reform.

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Seems like great news, Israel’s government and opposition reaching a compromise over judicial reform.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

What a vile and unserious letter to Binyamin Netanyahu from members of the Entebbe commando squad. They write:

You compared us to those who carried out the pogrom in Huwara, and your son, who has not held a rifle in his life, calls us ‘terrorists’…

Perhaps I’m touchy about this because a friend recently dismissed my view on Israeli matters because when we served in the IDF some over 30 years ago he was in a combat unit and I was not, but really, does Yair Netanyahu’s military service or lack thereof belong in a serious discussion on national affairs? They go on:

You called us ‘conditional Zionists.’ You, whose father, left Israel in 1939 and returned only in 1949 when the Independence War ended. And then a second time left the country in 1962 and returned after his son fell [in Entebbe].

Now after insulting his son they’re after his father. Never mind that the senior Netanyahu was also the father to the son Yoni whom they valorize earlier in the letter…

Just pitiful.

The increasingly indispensable Michael Doran points out that:

If the goal of the Biden administration were to work with Israel to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, then Nides would either avoid any intervention whatsoever in Israeli domestic politics, or he would urge Lapid publicly to put forth practical proposals that could lead to a constructive compromise. Nides has demonstratively done neither.

Sunday, March 5th, 2023

Prof. Nir Keidar, legal historian and President of Sapir College, appears on the predictably leftist podcast The Tel Aviv Review ostensibly to discuss his book David Ben Gurion and the Foundation of Israeli Democracy but the conversation is mostly about today’s judicial reform, and he is reasonable and helpful.

Natan Sharansky exemplifies fair-mindedness and balance on the judicial reform bills despite some rather outraged prompting by old colleague and Times of Israel founding editor David Horowitz.

One side says it won the elections [and can do whatever it wants]. And the other side believes that it doesn’t need to enter a dialogue [over the proposals] because it can get them canceled through demonstrations, through mobilization, by utilizing the denunciation that we are becoming a dictatorship, and that if it enters negotiations on this or that paragraph, it would be accepting the principle [of the need for judicial reform], and it doesn’t accept the principle. So I’m really concerned by the lack of willingness to negotiate from both sides.

Saturday, March 4th, 2023

As interviewed by Netael Bandel in Israel Hayom, Professor Yoav Dotan opposes judicial activism:

The High Court took the accepted understanding of reasonableness – intervening when a government authority harms the citizen in an absurd and capricious manner – and turned it into something else entirely. Everyone must be reasonable, the government and the prime minister, except that they always think they are acting reasonably. The court’s reasonableness approach states that the government will balance its own considerations and that the court will reverse-engineer the government’s determination. In effect, the court becomes a second government that oversees the elected government, and in instances that have no bearing whatsoever on personal liberties.

David Goldman, back on form, untangles Türkiye’s high-wire new stratagems that leverage its centrality every which way. But I don’t know, this all seems too clever by half and could unravel fairly instantly.

By the way, for ages Goldman was talking about how Türkiye was collapsing and becoming a vassal state to China. But of course, course-corrections happen among the living. For me as someone who believes Goldman is pretty prescient, it’s reassuring that he updates his views.

Thursday, March 2nd, 2023

In 1987 I attended a Telluride Association Summer Program. In 2020 I was shocked to read that in the wake of the George Floyd protests, Telluride had limited its TASP offerings to “Critical Black Studies” and “Anti-Oppressive Studies” seminars. In this article, Vincent Lloyd, a black professor who had taught at a TASP in the past, relates how he was cancelled by the students. The irony would be delicious if the seeming disintegration of American largesse and leadership in education were not sad and scary.

Via Paul Graham, who chose Gerald Ford’s portrait as his favorite, “every american president, but they’re all cool and they all sport a mullet” by Cam Harless.

Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes! The Goodfellas address climate change. Niall Ferguson complains about, just as I see it, the opportunity costs — and also the mental health toll on the young. John Cochrane complains that no cost/benefit analysis is being applied to climate change policy. And Bjorn Lomborg specifies what those opportunity costs are, listing demonstrably better ways to invest in human betterment. How wonderful it would be if everyone seriously considered the contents herein.

It’s over too quickly, these two great alliterative-entitled Americans in conversation, Alan Alda and Kevin Kelly on AA’s Clear+Vivid podcast. Alda has such a gracious voice, and Kelly’s meets it. Kelly introduces some novel standpoints, earning his “world’s most interesting man” Tim Ferris monicker. The impetus and much of the conversation revolves around AI chatbots.

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.

Sunday, February 26th, 2023

Two masters: Walter Russell Mead interviews Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Hertog Forum. The context is their respective recent books, The Arc of a Covenant and Bibi — each is most gracious about the other’s.

One jarring note is that a couple of questions before the end, Bibi ends an answer with “Thank you,” as if ending the interview there and then. Am I imagining that? WRM however is having none of it; the next question is about Putin, which Bibi refuses to answer (the only such response — earlier I think perhaps there’s an inkling even he’s said a little too much). Instead of wilting, WRM asks him another question, then at some point chooses a judicious moment to end.

WRM says at the beginning that it’s intimidating interviewing Bibi, but if he is truly intimidated he does not let on, and his plummy slow delivery belies that.

And WRM gets the closing word, sealing Bibi’s masterful survey beautifully. I just wish WRM looked after himself a bit more physically — he’s a national, no, civilizational treasure, and it would be a shame to lose him prematurely. Bibi in contrast looks well-sprung, the hands wonderful.

Monday, February 20th, 2023

Israel and the UAE have unveiled a jointly developed unmanned maritime vessel, Globes reports. Abraham of Ur would be pleased.

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

I’m Bing, and I know the date. ????. Perhaps I’m missing something, but surely: Fuck M$, and fuck $A?

Monday, February 13th, 2023

In “Overmatch”, Michael Doran and Can Kasapoğlu perfectly explicate the growing peril of America’s posture in the Middle East. If NATO was designed to keep the Americans in, the Germans down and the Russians out, the Obama/Biden approach to the Middle East seems hell-bent on getting America out, the Iranians up, and the Chinese in.

Like marriages gone sour and houses in Malibu, international orders erode gradually at first and then all at once. News of the demise of the American order in the Middle East is certainly premature, but the ground beneath it is shifting in very unsettling ways that American policymakers appear determined to ignore.

Thursday, February 9th, 2023

I never thought to google it, but once upon a time in the 1980s I made a nice speech in public speaking class at the American International School on the Nacirema. Turns out back in 1956 it had been a prank academic paper, “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner in American Anthropologist, as this article JSTOR Daily article “The Long Life of the Nacirema” reminds us.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

What a tweetstorm by Hussein Aboubakr Mansour, self-styled “grand cultural architect of the post-Palestine Middle East”, on the main issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the Leftist notion that first-world colonization justifies any behavior. Israel’s contribution, he notes, is that we “accept the Palestinian self-dehumanization as the ontological truth of the Palestinians: final, exclusive, and irreversible, and not as humans who are trapped into a terrible story made up by generations of mad intellectuals and sadistic tyrants.” Perfetto.

Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

Great to see that this post about a mural in Nazareth memorializing the heroes of the Iranian uprising is met at the NewIran subreddit with only sympathetic and grateful comments.

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

Monday, January 16th, 2023

And now for something completely different, ie nice and civilized: John Mount’s article “Good Stationery as a Tool of Thought”.

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

genders.wtf is an outstanding use of this thing we call the World Wide Web. It’s nice that it takes a hot divisive topic and makes it genuinely human and funny.

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

Finally, Congress will pass a resolution expressing solidarity with and support for Iran’s protesters.

Senior Saudis tell an American delegation they are ready for normalization with Israel, but first they want normalization with the United States, writes JINSA’s John Hannah in The Jerusalem Post after the visit.

 
 

•••

Newsroll

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

experiments in refactored perception

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