Saturday, May 26th, 2018
Prince William will make the first ever official tour of Israel by a member of the British Royal Family. Jordan is the first stop, demonstrating the UK’s rather anachronistic view.
I think this is quite a big deal; Britain has complicated feelings towards Israel, best illustrated I think by its non-existence to date in the mythic James Bond movies. At any rate, though first announced in March, this does seem more positive fallout from Trump’s Jerusalem Declaration.
Thursday, May 24th, 2018
Michael Pollan’s excursion into psychoactives is excerpted in The New York Times Magazine. “I” now turned into a sheaf of little papers, no bigger than Post-its, and they were being scattered to the wind. But the “I” taking in this seeming catastrophe had no desire to chase after the slips and pile my old self back together.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018
Great fun illustrated article on the aesthetics of Trumpism by Nick Hilton. “This next product, emblazoned with the number 45, looks more like a golfer’s baseball cap than a trucker’s … that styling — №45 in fancy serif font — would be perfectly at home on the label of a $100 bottle of scotch. Someone wearing this cap would not be immediately outing themselves as a ‘deplorable’ (as was, to a large extent, the appeal of the MAGA hat). It’s a flashback to a moment when the Trump brand was all about luxury hotels and links courses. No wonder it’s on sale.” Hilton also wrote a piece on Trump-based magazine covers.
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.
Caroline Glick praises the genius of Trump’s recognition of Israel’s capital. I’d go further: its most important function is as the crowning piece of pressure on the Palestinians to finally strike a deal with Israel and end the existential conflict; it transforms East Jerusalem from a given they have pocketed into a prize they can win.
What a bonanza it will be when the Palestinians, like the surrounding Arab nations, finally acknowledge they are licked, and accept what they can get from intense genuine negotiations. There should be little shame in admitting defeat — after all, the combined armies of the Arab nations repeatedly failed to defeat Israel. The ideal models here are Japan and Germany, which, after defeat by the United States and the Allies, reconstituted themselves, moved on, and with their national genius become formidable in their own realms. The Palestinians too can become formidable, well positioned to become at very least the eternal prospering middlemen between powerful Israel and the wider Middle East.
70 years after independence, Israel is flourishing in nationhood and statecraft, with a burgeoning birthrate, economy, set of alliances; it has likely possessed nuclear weaponry since 1963, an ICBM global delivery system since 2008. Indeed, Israel under-projects its power; David Goldman accurately coined her a “pocket superpower”. All this means that as Israel strengthens and they weaken, the longer the Palestinians continue to hold off the less they will eventually get.
Up to now, the only pressure the Palestinians faced to encourage them to make a deal was Israeli settlements in the West Bank, bargaining chips being built in front of their eyes. Now under Trump, the USA has changed its approach and added its own diplomatic pressure to bear — epitomized by the Jerusalem recognition. More fundamentally, the region has changed; the Palestinians’ traditional patrons and enablers — Egypt and Saudi Arabia — have at the very least lost interest in their perpetual campaign against Israel.
This sea-change will hopefully lead the next generation of Palestinian leadership to realize that there is no longer any benefit to holding out (not that there ever was) and succeed in conveying this to the people. Here’s hoping, and to fruitful and harmonious דו-קיום (co-existence) sooner than we think possible.
Saturday, May 12th, 2018
Make it work, ‘cos you’ve got opposites.
Friday, May 11th, 2018
“The Moment” is an occasional column/blog by novelist Amit Chaudhuri in The Paris Review.
Thursday, May 10th, 2018
Wednesday, May 9th, 2018
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.
Monday, May 7th, 2018
Saturday, May 5th, 2018
I keep referring back to this article by Kyle Chayka — beautifully and ironically illustrated by Daniel Hertzberg — and in a nice homologue I keep forgetting the term it coins, airspace:
It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes.
The title says it’s sterile but is it? The word never appears within the article. Isn’t airspace more a vocabulary? Here in Brighton there are nasty pastiches of it (Tortilla: Real Californian Burritos and Tacos), lovely expressions (Gails Bakery) and sophisticated extensions (Smallbatch Coffee).
Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
Ben Thompson concisely contrasts Amazon and Apple. “I’m not sure that Amazon will beat Apple to $1 trillion, but they surely have the best shot at two.”
Eric Posner and Glen Weyl provide some diagnosis of and solutions for our new Gilded Age.
Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
Joss Whedon on making The Avengers: “There’s very little that I didn’t look at. It’s like, This is a Dr. Strangelove moment. This is The Abyss. This is His Girl Friday. It’s constant. You have to have all that stuff sort of in a blender in your head.”
“Jon [Favreau] said, ‘Look into his eyes. If you look into his eyes you will know. Is he being asked a question or is he asking the question?’” On the making of Iron Man’s HUD.
Tuesday, May 1st, 2018
Ehud Yaari in The American Interest: “Israeli inaction came face-to-face with Iranian proactivity, and Israel now finds itself counting its losses even as the Syrian war winds down.” It seems we have been fighting the last war.
Jaron Lanier on social media: “We got into this by trying to be socialist and libertarian at the same time, and getting the worst of both worlds … we have to choose.”
Sunday, April 29th, 2018
“Our statement is a non-statement.” In this 2007 interview, Robert Culp (“the talent”) speaks of I Spy and his partner Bill Cosby (“the genius”).
Friday, April 27th, 2018
This review of The Jewish Joke: An essay with examples (less essay, more examples) has examples.
Thursday, April 26th, 2018
I liked Michelangelo because the obsessive and extreme torsion of his figures was so obviously derived from that of Jack Kirby.
Geoff Dyer, Comics in a Man’s Life
I can’t go for a few moments without sliding back my chair and gazing with massive self-love at my library.
Geoff Dyer, on books, in Unpacking My Library
Living abroad meant a move out of quotation marks.
Geoff Dyer, on books, in Unpacking My Library
Saturday, April 21st, 2018
In Amtrak’s magazine The National, alum David Schisgall welcomes the College’s new overlordettes, for in July 2018, after years of legal wranglers and decades of dusty nazal-gaving, Deep Springs will go co-ed.
Friday, April 20th, 2018
Another nice ongoing Grauniad series, this one where authors and writers describe their typical writing day.
Eventually I get down to writing and then the real problems begin.
Friday, April 13th, 2018
Brian X. Chen, technology writer at The New York Times, checks what data Facebook and Google have on him and provides links to do your own. “Be warned,” he concludes. “Once you see the vast amount of data that has been collected about you, you won’t be able to unsee it.”
Google for instance, keeps a record of every time you open an app on an Android phone, Facebook of whom you unfriended when.
Thursday, April 12th, 2018
It’s nice to see Slant Magazine praise something fulsomely and in detail: Chuck Bowen on Billions, Season 3.
Sunday, April 8th, 2018
Saturday, April 7th, 2018
Thursday, April 5th, 2018
Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
Since I’m returning to it for some refreshment, time to add the link: “How to Use Clashing Fonts” by Jonathan Hoefler. “It’s often the dialogue between typefaces that most effectively communicates how information is meant to be understood.”