I’ve tried to enjoy schlepping water, thinking that it serves to keep us to some human roots.
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.
After they finished watching the Bond movies, I figured the next series John Gruber and Dan Benjamin would discuss on The Talk Show would be Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre. But Gruber refused — too personal for podcasting, he said. Disappointed, I rewatched 2001.
Instead of acknowledging the wisdom of leading from behind, the Right jumped on the Obama administration’s handling of Libya as yet another example of at best incompetence. They lost me there.
Steve Jobs we lost at the age of 56; when Frank Lloyd Wright reached that age it was still only 1923, the time of merely his second comeback with Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel.
It’s amazing, given the adulation he enjoyed elsewhere, that the Israeli public knew from the start not to trust this US President.
Nobody from usesthis.com has asked me what my setup us, nor is likely to anytime soon. So I’m just going to mouth off here about it. But first, some background.
On the Leon Wieseltier/Andrew Sullivan spat, Walter Russell Mead seems to want to have his strudel and eat it too.
Defeat in the Olympics bid may focus the mind in the Oval Office where it should be: Afghanistan.
oming here to this new shopping mall outside Modi’in with Irit and her cousin Tali to buy a dress for her niece Tamar didn’t seem like the most thrilling thing to do today, but it was a gorgeous drive down from their moshav, Mesilat Tzion (just off Highway 1 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), through empty countryside and a turn east into the gentle rocky Shomron foothills. This mall can be no more than a year old. Modi’in’s brand new train station is visible down the highway. Modi’in itself barely existed ten years ago. Modi’in means “intelligence”, by the way.
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009; Israel
This mall is on a scale describable only as American, the target visitors being I think upper lower to upper middle classers — that is, almost everyone. Malls are no longer being built indoors it seems but as series of anonymous low-slung buildings fronted by parking lots. There’s absolutely nothing else around here except empty desolate pretty hills — Modi’in itself can’t be seen. The Israel Trail passes by a bit to the west. It’s a hot July Wednesday morning. Things are reasonably busy. The shops are mostly franchises, almost all homegrown — imports are limited to a large Ace hardware store, a smaller Office Depot and a Burger King — the others include Super-Pharm, Aroma, Tzomet Sfarim, Cup O’ Joe’s, LaMetayel, Mega, Fox, Castro, H&O. A general thought: somehow, through all the bluster and unpleasantness, Israeli culture fully enables the cooperation to implement enterprise and ambition. A personal thought: it’s nice for me to just write down the names of these brands; I feel at home here.
Next to me at the bar a worker takes a break, eagerly pouring salt and pepper on his eggplant sandwich. Everything on the menu at Aroma is vegetarian; no fuss is made about that fact, that’s just how it is (the only exception is the tuna salad). [Edit: the Aroma branch at the Tel Aviv mall is now introducing salami sandwiches. And Aroma is over; it’s okay but no longer delicious; CafeCafe is now the most exciting cafe franchise.]
But halas with this tired perspective of the Anglo or American amazed and impressed that Israel isn’t camels and tents, that the coffee machines are Italian, that the screen in the corner of the cafe is showing CNN as if every spot has the potential frisson of an airport departure lounge. I have to admit to being impressed — this morning anyway — by the sum total of life here. After walking through Sussex to London, I can see now that the happy flip-side of Israel’s method of crowding people into apartments brings the countryside closer so that it’s quick and easy to get out to complete isolation here.
I got out quickly and easily into such glorious isolation yesterday, walking the trail around Mount Carmiela just near Mesilat Tzion. But the glory was marred by the passing of a mountain-biker. Unsmiling, not acknowledging my nod of greeting that civilized people bestow upon each other when passing in an isolated place, he was decked out in full mountain-bike regalia, like he was participating in a race. Here there is none of that ambling amateurism that seems to me integral to civility. The hiking map we bought was covered with ads directed at mountain-bikers such as he. It’s curmudgeonly to critique biking habits — any biking is good biking — but it wasn’t so long ago here that anyone on a bike beyond the age of puberty was considered either unacceptably eccentric or suffering from poverty so extreme as to signify idiocy, for if you’re that poor you should be able to wangle enough from the government to get a car or a bus pass. Today biking is socially acceptable if you have all the expensive gear, but I suspect that it’s still declasse if you’re doing it dressed like a regular human being.
So what? Fine. There are morays. Every society has ‘em. In this modern age of seeming societal dissolution, it’s impressive to even have morays to which everyone subscribes. And I also get the hierophantic feeling that despite the cultural straightjacket Israeli society imposes on its young, these are values and norms that are appropriate and good for people anyway. Live in a small polity. Travel a lot. Bring back goodies from abroad like honeybees. Be too close for comfort to your relatives. Live in apartments in crowded towns so you can keep your countryside public, open and pristine. Value entrepeneurship and science over pedigree and the arts. Keep building. Have inept but nonetheless unabating enemies. Be undiscovered and unblighted by the corrupting blessings of a foreign tourism industry. And talk a lot of baloney.
Israel, the Bad So Far
My Hope: Obama’s Change