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.
Thursday, October 14th, 2021
Wednesday, October 13th, 2021
Monday, October 11th, 2021
National treasure David Mitchell knocks it out the park with his (SPOILER WARNING) review of No Time to Die.
The main spoiler is: they’ve spoiled it. The producers of No Time to Die have spoiled Bond – either a bit or totally, only time will tell.
Another darn piece that expresses perfectly what I was thinking and that I didn’t write myself. This is one where I feel: no matter what, I couldn’t have done it quite this well, this straightforwardly.
Friday, October 8th, 2021
Thursday, October 7th, 2021
Human egalitarianism was a social revolution within the primate order.
Sarah Chayes, Everybody Knows: Corruption in America
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).
From the bubbling, dexterous mind of Venkatesh Rao we have two rich essays posted within two days: “Storytelling — Cringe and the Banality of Shadows” and “Remystifying Supply Chains: Supply chains are TV for matter”.
The supply chain crisis is in some ways more unprecedented than Covid itself, given that containerized supply chains, and the world of distributed, networked, computationally coordinated production they enabled, are only a few decades old.
This is the first crisis of this magnitude to hit them.
To find a comparable crisis in history you have to go back to World War 2, with U boats sinking transatlantic shipping. And that was in an era when global trade was less than a third of today’s levels if I’m not mistaken (as a fraction of GDP) and still in the ancient mode of breakbulk shipping.
Angry divides over cultural and identity-group issues often mask—in fact may be deliberately used to mask—unanimity at the top of the system when it comes to condoning or participating in corruption.
Sarah Chayes, Everybody Knows: Corruption in America
Wednesday, October 6th, 2021
Criminalizing the criminalization of politics is akin to the wonder performed by Aeschylus’ Eumenides, which turned revenge into law—high statesmanship.
Angelo Codevilla, The Ruling Class
Monday, October 4th, 2021
Sunday, October 3rd, 2021
Leaked papers reveal King Abdullah of Jordan has spent some $106m on Anglospherian homes. While it’s nice he chooses Malibu and London — and why not — might the story spur domestic unrest?
Saturday, October 2nd, 2021
Thursday, September 30th, 2021
More Stanford student bikers are observed wearing masks than helmets. OK now it’s just a pandemic of idiocy.
Also today I noted a pic of Israel’s foreign minister Yair Lapid stepping out of an aircraft at Bahrain’s airport. He was alone on the middle steps, his aides up top at the aircraft doors, the welcoming committee on the tarmac, yet he was masked. Covid theater undermines our public confidence in following sensible guidelines when they are actually sensible and salutary.
Sometimes you come across an essay you intended to write and somebody’s more or less done it for you, in this case an attempt to philosophize on the concept of work by Jonathan Malesic in the University of Virginia’s Hedgehog Review.
A few nights ago I considered for the first time the direct semantic connection between the troublesome English term “happy” and the less fraught “happening”; happily, there seems to be a connection between them that’s not mere happenstance. And here this essay begins to explicate that thought:
The Crow [a Native American tribe who live on the northern plains] built their culture around hunting buffalo and “counting coups”—an activity that encompasses both feats of bravery in war and recitations of stories about those feats. Once white settlers killed off the buffalo and placed the Crow under the US government’s jurisdiction in the 1880s, the basis for Crow culture was gone. “After this nothing happened,” the Crow chief Plenty Coups told a white historian decades later.
Brian May with Rick Beato for an hour. Beato is like the Charlie Rose of music if Rose had been head of CIA or something — Beato’s been a session musician, music professor, studio owner, etc. And like the meticulous mega-talented pros they are, just as the interviewer covers his topics so the guest does all the talking (and glorious playing).
Tuesday, September 28th, 2021
Graffiti at Melbourne IKEA: NO JEW JAB FOR OZ, as reported by The Algemeiner. People can be so demented.
Anne Helen Petersen writes about Revenge procrastinatory bedtime — I’m guilty myself of practicing it and have noticed it lately, so it’s good to see the phenom labeled and articulated:
It’s illogical and annoying and only makes things worse. But it’s also what our souls do when we refuse to nourish them. They sabotage our most perfect intentions for sleep, because sleep is not the same as leisure. Don’t get me wrong; sleep is great. It can be deeply restorative. But it also requires us to be, well, unconscious.
Sunday, September 26th, 2021
Safari in iOS 15 is enough of a redesign to warrant reading a primer. Thanks, TidBits, for Josh Centers’ “Hot New Features in Safari in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15”
Want to close all open tabs so you can start fresh with Tab Groups? Press and hold the Done text label to reveal the secret option. Why Apple hid it there is baffling, and there’s zero indication that “Done” would have any secondary function.
It’s tough living in a place where everyone think it’s ok to be an asshole.
Gavriel Peretz [on Israel]
In what turned out to be his final essay, “Graveyard of Narratives”, Angelo Codevilla excoriates America’s response to 9/11, even going so far as to point out that it wasn’t really fully clear just how involved Osama Bin Laden was. Codevilla:
Since WWII, whether in the name of anti-communism, anti-terrorism, democracy, or humanitarianism, it’s always the same: dismiss the substance of local quarrels; recast the local scene in terms of American elites’ concerns…
Saturday, September 25th, 2021
David Goldman eulogizes Angelo Codevilla, strongly hinting his belief that the 78-year-old geostrategist’s death by drunk driver was no accident. The two men had been corresponding, and were in agreement that America is in trouble, though Codevilla was at pains to point out that regardless of its own mindblowing fecklessness there are certain realities in America’s favor:
As currently important and as pregnant with long range consequences as the new realities are, to what extent do they override, FOR RUSSIA the reality that CHINA is ten times as populous and thrice as productive per capita, and racially incompatible, and next door? Let us put ourselves in Putin’s icy shoes: Up to what point is American decline in Russia’s interest? Does he really want China to be the Western Pacific’s undisputed mistress?
Friday, September 24th, 2021
A new iPhone, a new Austin Mann camera review, this time in Tanzania:
Although the iPhone 13 Pro still only has three lenses, the addition of macro capability is like adding a new lens altogether, and for the serious photographer I think it’s perhaps the strongest advancement in this year’s camera system.
It’s the greatest gig in the world, being alive; you get to eat at Denny’s, wear a hat, whatever you wanna do.
Tuesday, September 21st, 2021
Sunday, September 12th, 2021
If there’s one thing to read on this 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, perhaps this is it, a narration of the 9/11 film “by Jules Naudet, a French-born documentary filmmaker working with his brother Gédéon on a film about a rookie firefighter at a station in Lower Manhattan.”
One of the men sent up the stairs by Chief Pfeifer is his younger brother, Kevin. He will never see him again. As Jules Naudet’s camera pans over the faces of the firefighters in the lobby of the North Tower, you realize with shock that his footage, which includes Kevin Pfeifer, is the last time many of them will be captured for posterity.
This is so full-throated by David Horowitz (posted by John Hinderaker at Powerline). Entitled “The Read Existential Threat”, it rings very true to me, given the unforced error that is the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Anti-white racism, and ignorant attacks on the American founding – these constitute the greatest existential threat to America. And the fact that Black Lives Matter fictions make up the crippling doctrine of our military leaders should wake everyone to the menace we face. There never has been a greater threat to our patrimony and freedom since the darkest days of the Civil War.
Gordon Brander thinks seriously about the Web vis-a-vis mobile.
By now, the web’s network advantage had evaporated. The iPhone’s native apps were internet apps, sandboxed, and talking HTTP, just like a web app. The iPhone was designed for a world that included the web. The web was not designed for a world that included the iPhone.
Saturday, September 11th, 2021
Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World
I enjoyed Clive Thompson’s Wired piece “Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t” wherein he considers task management software as a kind of religious devotion:
To-do lists are, in the American imagination, a curiously moral type of software. Nobody opens Google Docs or PowerPoint thinking “This will make me a better person.” But with to-do apps, that ambition is front and center.
This bringing of theology and things of the spirit into the seemingly more mundane world of computing reminded me delightedly of Umberto Eco’s whimsical comparison of Mac vs Windows as Catholicism vs Protestantism.
So I was hopeful for Thompson’s book Coders, especially after reading the fun first Amazon Kindle sample chapter, and because I am increasingly embracing the identity of coder, given that it’s what I’ve ended up doing almost all my 21/2-decade professional life, and want to know just how much I fit the profile.
Well. I’ve come across writers before whose magazine articles impress but pall at book length. Mr Thompson’s interviewees so often “sigh” as they are clunkily pulled out of the aether to buttress his current argument, and I found particularly jarring that a provocative thought by one fellow — Dijastra, no less — is quoted using “he hissed” — though by then the mechanics of the book were transparent enough to predict the desultory “he has a point”-esque follow-up.
In thematic tandem with the book’s stale style, it degenerates into a long squawk of racial social injustice obsession. What pops into mind is the searing tedium of hearing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at every gas station across America.
So come rain or shine, this one’s going out on the street, and tech chronicler Clive Thompson will need to re-earn his welcome.
Tuesday, August 31st, 2021
In googling what appears to me the flimsiness of the Jewish edict to not eat milk with meat, I came across Michael Harvey’s Times of Israel blog post “Why Separate Milk and Meat?” in which he argues it’s all a misreading of the word “milk” in “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”
The word for milk features certain vowels underneath to make the sound of chalev, distinguishing the word from others. Why is this important? Well, there happens to be another Hebrew word with the exact same letters, Chet, Lamed, Vet, but is pronounced, instead of chalev, chaylev. And that is the word for fat, as seen in such passages as Leviticus 7:23: “You shall eat no fat of ox or sheep or goat.” Could this commandment have actually been referencing fat instead of milk?
Thursday, August 26th, 2021
Wednesday, August 25th, 2021
Saturday, August 21st, 2021
Friday, August 20th, 2021
Friday, August 13th, 2021
What’s with Bahrain’s DERASAT thinktank signing an agreement not just with an Israeli counterpart, Jerusalem’s JCPA, nor even with two, also Herzlia’s AEI Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center, but now with three, adding Tel Aviv’s INSS. That doesn’t seem right to me; pick a counterpart.
On the INSS web site, the visit warrants not just the top story position but the heading “Special Announcement”. At JCPA it’s no longer the top story but the headline is prefixed “History:”. The Abba Eban Center doesn’t seem to have a news facility. Yet over at DERASAT, the post about the agreement with the JCPA (which a few days later is no longer even discoverable on their website) did not contain the word “Israel”. And there’s no mention at all of the two more recent agreements.
Wednesday, August 11th, 2021
On an Israeli TV news panel, here is Issawi Frej in career-defining, full-throttle top-flight impassioned co-existence mode, making religious Yesh Atid MK and former Minister of Education Shai Piron choke up on air.
Sunday, August 8th, 2021
La Maison Xun, a restaurant in Beijing by LDH Architects, featured in Archinect.
Saturday, August 7th, 2021
Thursday, August 5th, 2021
Wednesday, August 4th, 2021
John McWhorter on “Black Fragility”:
DiAngelo, you may have heard, has a new one out. But do you really need to read yet another book about how white people just don’t get it? After all, roll the tape again and the main theme of intelligent black thought might not be so obsessed with this notion that black America must sit mired in charismatic anomie until white people “get it.” Imagine a black America all about not “Why don’t they get it?” but “How do we get ours regardless?”