What Händel’s and Beethoven’s tuning forks teach us about the evolution of concert pitch

Not politics or culture wars for a change, but classical music. The other day, after hearing some of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words played on a historical Erard piano. Mrs, Arbel asked me: “you are always annoyed when they tune down half a step in ‘authentic Baroque performances’, yet I’ve never seen you do this when Beethoven or Chopin are played on period instruments. Why?”

Anyone who regularly listens to baroque (or older) classical music is familiar with the so-called “historically informed performance” movement (a less pretentious moniker than the old “historically accurate performance movement”) which strives to perform on original or replica period instruments, using documented or inferred performance practices from the era of the composer.

A big part of that — and immediately noticeable to anyone with absolute pitch[*] like yours truly — is the use of “historical” tuning standards. Very commonly, such baroque ensembles tune to A=415 Hz (a semitone below standard concert pitch), and I won’t even get into meantone intonation.

But how do we even know that this used to be a thing? One clue we have that pitch wasn’t standardized are historical pipe organs. By convention, the lowest C in an 8′ stop had a pipe eight foot long — but every polity had its own set of customary measures, and a foot in France wasn’t the same as one in Saxony, say. We do know, from transposed parts where chamber instruments had to perform together with a church organ, that “chamber pitch” and “choir pitch” were a whole tone (two semitones) apart.

But organ pitches, as of most instruments,, would drift in pitch with temperature.

In 1711, an Englishman named John Shore who was chief trumpeter at the Court, invented the tuning fork, designed to sound a nearly constant reference pitch across a range of temperatures. Shore was a friend and protégé of Händel’s, and one of his tuning forks was among the composer’s preserved personal effects and can be seen in the Händel Museum to this day.

It sounds at A=422.5 Hz, about 70.3 cents flat of today’s concert pitch. (An even-tempered semitone is subdivided into 100 cents.)[***] This is still almost 30 cents sharp of the A=415 “standard”, but that comes tolerably close, and being exactly a semitone apart from modern instruments means the latter can be used in a pinch by transposing the part a half-step down.

So did things stay at that pitch? We do know, as I’ve explained in a prior post, that during the classicist and Romantic era, orchestras started tuning sharper and sharper in pursuit of a brighter sound, to the point that traveling opera primadonnas started complaining they could no longer hit the highest notes in their arias! This set in motion a process of standardization, which settled first at A=435 in France, and eventually at A=440 worldwide.

This ‘pitch war’ was in full swing in Beethoven’s day. And it turns out that one of Beethoven’s tuning forks has been preserved, and that it sounds at… A=455.4 Hz, some 58 cents sharp of modern concert pitch and over a semitone sharp (128 cents, to be precise) from Händel’s tuning fork.

Summarized here is a collection of preserved tuning forks. Some highlights:

  • Three pitchforks from 1826 used by the then-famous Broadwood firm of piano builders in London sound at 427 to 428 Hz, about a quarter-tone flat from today
  • A 1754 tuning fork owned by the Silbermann family of organ builders sounds at 415 Hz
  • In contrast, the head tuner for the same firm in 1849-1854 used a “medium pitch” fork that sounded at A=445.9 Hz, 23 cents sharp of today and just a split hair sharp of the A=445 Hz that the late Herbert von Karajan had the Berlin Philharmonic tune to.
  • A 1783 fork belonging to a tuner at the court of Louis XVI sounds even deeper than “Baroque pitch” at A=409 Hz
  • In the 1830s, the Vienna Philharmonic apparently went from A=436.5 to A=445.1
  • While the Hamburg Opera in 1839 had A=448 Hz, a number of orchestras in Berlin, The Hague, Naples,… apparently tuned in the 443-446 Hz range
  • Paris, apparently, favored A=425 Hz as late as 1829, only to drift up later
  • Steinway Pianos, as of 1879, was using A=457.2 (slightly sharp even of Beethoven’s fork) in New York, and A=454.7 in London
  • After the French commission on the “diapason normal” agreed on A=435 Hz, a number of reference tuning forks were produced. The article mentions that modern frequency measurements on twelve of them yielded an average of A=435.34 Hz, with a very small spread but one clear outlier

TL;DR summary of the above:

  • yes, in the Baroque era chamber instruments were tuned lower than today, less than a semitone in England, more in France, about a semitone in Germany
  • already in the early Romantic era, pitch had crept up to almost modern concert pitch
  • then it would exceed it, but inconsistently so, leading to hardship for traveling singers
  • three rival standards were proposed, a French one slightly flat of today, an English one markedly sharp of today, while the modern A=440 Hz standard had first been proposed by a group of German physicists
  • the latter eventually won the day as a compromise between the rival English and French standards

[*] Basically, a person with absolute pitch hears absolute frequencies, while somebody with the more common relative pitch hears frequency ratios to a reference pitch. For singers, who needs to transpose to fit their vocal range, absolute pitch is actually more a handicap than a gift — for keyboardists, arrangers, and composers, absolute pitch can be very helpful. Mrs. Arbel has exquisite relative pitch, but to her the same piece transposed from E to Ab will basically be the same piece (except that it will fit vocal ranges better or worse) — to my ears, it’s almost like it changes color from green to red 🙂 (Synesthesia, the mixed perception of senses, is much more common among people with absolute than with relative pitch. Pianist Vikingur Olafsson is a fairly well-known example.)

The rarest type — active absolute pitch, the ability to instantly identify and reproduce any notes or chords in real time — is the sort of thing some musicians would sell their soul for. We can reasonably infer Beethoven possessed this gift, as he continued to be able to write down the music he heard in his head even after he had turned completely deaf. A strong case can also be made for J. S. Bach and Mozart having active absolute pitch — otherwise, lengthy manuscripts with hardly any corrections are hard to explain.

[**] As I have absolute pitch, I used to avoid “”historically authentic” performances like the plague, as my brain kept crying out: “wrong! Bach did not write Brandenburg concerti in F# major or Db major” 🙂 Over time, I got used to mentally “transposing” pieces, even as this still feels unnatural to me, and I have always preferred modern over period instruments.

[***] log(440/422.5)/log(2)*1200=70.3

Here, there, everywhere: first signs of judicial compromise in Israel?; Spain’s female Ron DeSantis?; Sunak’s Brexit renegotiation

(a) At home in Israel, chaos abounds as following a deadly terror attack, people took the law into their own hands and went on a rampage. https://www.timesofisrael.com/not-our-way-president-condemns-settlers-cruel-and-violent-rampage-in-huwara/

There is a deepening sense that no-one is really in charge.

A financial advisor told me she is getting flooded with calls from worried clients looking to move their money abroad or at least change the investment ‘track’ of their pension and continued study funds to be more foreign. She is not particularly worried herself though.

However, at the Knesset judicial committee, the first signs of a compromise on judicial reform appear to be on the horizon, specifically between hardliner Simcha Rothman and Labour MK (and Reform rabbi) Gilad Kariv[*]. The compromise proposal centers on a two-level judicial review, distinguishing between a hard strike-down of a law and a softer ‘declaration of legal incompatibility’, inspired by a British model.


Our Supreme Court has 15 judges, who almost never rule with a full bench: the minimum is three (in practice, only when sitting as the final court of appeals) but I’ve seen anywhere between 5 and 13 on more momentous cases. (By tradition going back to Second Temple times, the number is always odd to avoid a stalemate.) Under the emerging proposal, striking down a law outright would still require a (near-)unanimous ruling by a full bench (Rothman has meanwhile indicated he was willing to compromise on 12 or 13 yes-votes rather than the unrealistic 15 he demanded at first.). However, a smaller panel could still issue a soft ‘strike’.

Is Rothman trying to hoodwink Regev (whose movement I emphatically do not belong to, but is the furthest thing from an idiot), or is something healthier at work?

See also this interview with Natan Sharansky.

(b) Powerline has a look at the “President” (idiomatically: Lord/Lady Mayor) of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who seems to be trying to position herself as the Ron De Santis of Spain. Against lockdowns, against wokebaggery, against the socialist-communist national coalition of Pedro “Dirty” Sanchez, and for Israel. Powerline snarkily comments that her opponents call her a fascist for wanting to reduce the power of government over individuals’s lives.

Go read the whole thing.

(c) and speaking of people getting confused about fascism, “TIK” has a good answer to those who claim that National Socialism was really a “capitalist” movement and not “socialist” at all, despite a Twenty-Five Point Programme that, aside from the rabid and obsessive judeophobia, could have been written by Bernie Sanders.

(d) “Dishy Rishi” Sunak hails his renegotiation of the Northern Ireland part of the Brexit deal as an achievement. I sympathize with this opinion article though, written by ex-leftie Tim Stanley, who argues the Tories have wasted their time in power. It’s another of my personal adages: any party that calls itself X-ist has at best forgotten about X (e.g., the British “Conservative” Party, the Australian Labour Party), and at worst is actively hostile to it (the US “Democratic” Party). Call it Voltaire’s Law: the Holy Roman Empire was “not holy, not Roman, and not an empire” as the French Enlightenment philosopher quipped.


Meanwhile Sunak”s billionaire heiress wife is being hailed as a fashion icon for going about errands wearing GBP 550 sheepskin bedroom slippers.[**] Oh puh-leeze. If you’re serious about renewable energy, go hook up a dynamo to Margaret Thatcher’s grave: at this rate, her spinning in it should be able to power at least a city block.

[*] Kariv has in the past served as the Executive Director of the WUPJ (World Union of Progressive Judaism).

[**] I can’t even bring myself to link to the fawning article, in the Daily Torygraph of all places. It’s enough that it cost me my breakfast.

In praise of Thomas Sowell

With all the insanity going on everywhere and my current workload, I’d somehow missed this one:

The New Neo comments:

Yeah, it’s kind of funny. But it’s also tremendously sad, because millions more young people absorb Hannah-Jones’ utterly mendacious work than will ever become familiar with Sowell’s brilliant oeuvre. And it’s not just young people, either.

Over the years, I’ve asked many friends to read some of Sowell’s books. To date, as far as I know, not one of them has done so. It’s not just their loss; it’s everybody’s loss.

Indeed. As longtime readers may know, I’m a former center-leftie myself: my ‘conversion’ began not on 9/11 but on 9/12. Doubts had started to accumulate over the past decade, but I had dismissed what I saw then as aberrations and ‘bugs’ that could be fixed, not as inherent features of the worldview.

Then I saw the intellectually and morally bankrupt reaction of the lefties in my own circle (and of those who mindlessly parrot ‘their intellectual betters’) to 9/11 on display, and at the same time to the Second Intifada — in both cases, effectively becoming apologists for, or evenwhat Orwell would have called ‘objective allies’ of, the most retrograde religious fascism imaginable.

So then I started wondering, what other parts of the worldview that I had bought into were lies, or half-truths worse than whole lies. And spent the next years basically in the political wilderness, skeptical of all political ideologies (as to a large extent I still am today).

Along the way, several people told me I should check out the work of Thomas Sowell. Then while on assignment in Chicago, I walked into a Border’s bookstore and stumbled upon the then recently published ‘Black Rednecks and White Liberals’. I took it with me to the in-store coffee shop to check it out, where the barista shook her head and made faces at me for even looking at such a ‘horrible’ book. Naturally, I bought the book out of sheer spite, took it home. I thought the title essay laid out an interesting thesis — that what most people think of as certain ‘authentic’ aspects of Black ‘ghetto’ culture were actually internalized from the Scots-Irish immigrants from whom much of the white population in the Antebellum South descended — but was not fully convinced, sensing he was perhaps overstating or overselling his case. But I checked the list of his other books, wrote down the titles that intrigued me, and trudged off to the public library. (Any even modestly successful scientist needs to learn to be wary of overly simple and elegant theories — as they often turn out to be either wrong or have so many exceptions that they become useless except possibly as freshman teaching tools.)

The librarian pretended not to have anything by that author, until I calmly showed her the baker’s dozen catalog entries in the catalog, then she grudgingly brought them up from storage. (I later overheard her bellyaching on the phone to this.) Anyway, the book that absolutely floored me was “Vision Of The Anointed: Self-congratulation As A Moral Philosophy”. There, in crystal-clear prose, was laid out what I had inchoately been figuring out for myself in the preceeding years.

When subsequently, senior colleagues tried to sell me on the Crook County Machine Messiah (a.k.a. BHOzo) using terms and arguments that could have been taken out of the mouth of the morally narcissistic ‘anointed’ from Sowell’s book, I realized just how on the money he had been. Ever since, I have been a huge fan of Sowell’s writing, and have read most of his voluminous output.

There is an entire YouTube channel called “Thomas Sowell TV” that is populated mostly with excerpts from audiobooks of Sowell’s writings. It can be a good introduction if you listen while engaged in an activity that requires your hands and eyes but not your ears, like driving or domestic chores. https://www.youtube.com/@ThomasSowellTV

Thomas Sowell was interviewed numerous times for the Uncommon Knowledge programme of the Hoover Institution, hosted by Peter Robinson. I have embedded the playlist below.

Here’s to a national treasure, an intellectual whose shoes the like of Nikole Hannah-Jones and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are not fit to tie.

I’m so old, I still remember when Netanyahu cared about the Israeli economy; Black physician: “unconscious bias training” is both insiduous and counterproductive

(a) Once again, my hometown saw a demonstration of over 100,000 (that’s the equivalent of 3.3 million demonstrating in New York or DC), with tens of thousands demonstrating elsewhere.

A senior figure in Israel’s financial sector is sounding the alarm:


“I believe we’re in a dangerous moment, the likes of which I don’t remember seeing in many years,” he said.

[Shlomo] Dovrat, who according to Channel 12 has not given an interview in 20 years, broke his silence due to his intense worry.

“Over a period of 40 years we built a glorious economy, a spectacular high-tech industry,” Dovrat said, but the government’s plans were leading to “a danger” for the economy and society “at a level I don’t remember seeing.”

“We are seeing the risk premium for investments in Israel rising dramatically,” he said, noting that money was leaving Israel, and a large part of it would likely not return.

According to Dovrat, foreign investors “won’t invest in a country that doesn’t have certainty, that doesn’t have political stability and doesn’t have an independent justice system that can protect their property rights.”

He said Netanyahu “must take action fast.”

“The markets are voting with their feet. Billions of dollars are exiting Israel every day… In boards of companies we’re invested in, foreign investors say ‘Israel’s risk is too high now, get the money out of Israel.’ That’s what we’re hearing, not from one or two [companies]. It’s widespread,” he said.

Some Israeli tech companies have said they are planning to move their operations out of the country over the overhaul plans.

“Every day that passes and this crisis isn’t resolved we are at huge risk. The clock is ticking. We have to act and fast,” Dovrat said.

“The moment the high-tech industry leaves Israel or the economy weakens in general and foreign investors stop coming here — the cost of living will rise dramatically, interests on mortgages will rise dramatically,” he said.

He called Israel’s high-tech industry “Israel’s economic miracle,” making up 45% of exports and nearly 20% of GDP “and a huge percentage of revenue from taxes.”

“We won’t have the money for hospitals, infrastructure, health,… and of course security,” he warned.

“We don’t have time for politics… [It] can’t end in months of negotiations and a compromise at the last minute. If this process lasts months, there won’t be anything left to fix,” he said, adding that he had “never seen such concern among foreign investors.”

Dovrat also called on President Isaac Herzog to seek a compromise “within days.”

“They must act immediately. Not deliberations, not negotiations, not a pause, no preconditions. No ego games, no power games. An agreement within days. There’s no time. We’re in terrible danger,” he said.

[…] In his comments at the discussion session on the state budget, [Economic Affairs Minister and former Jerusalem mayor Nir] Barkat — a former tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist who is a member of the ruling Likud party — relayed warnings of serious economic fallout by leading Israeli business figures whom he said told him that the government “can shred the budget” as it “won’t have the money to implement it anyway.”

Read the whole thing. I am old enough that I remember Netanyahu as someone who deeply cared about the economy and who would think ten times before doing something this risky. (Note that I speak as someone who sees some judicial reform as necessary — but regards turning the judiciary into a lapdog of the ruling coalition as a ‘cure’ much worse than the disease.) Perhaps he still does — but I suspect that his K&K (Kachsuckers and Khomeinistim) coalition allies have him by the beitzim.

Incidentally: while I take election polls here with a grain of salt, according to a Maariv poll the coalition would lose its majority if elections were to be held today. https://www.timesofisrael.com/poll-coalition-slumps-9-seats-losing-majority-amid-unrest-over-judicial-overhaul/ Heckuva job, Bibi.

(b) Meanwhile in the US, Paul Mirengoff and his buddy at Ringside at the Reckoning discuss “implicit racial bias” training, including growing evidence that it is useless at best, and counterproductive at worst, to its ostensible purpose.


Furthermore, as Mitchell points out, there are serious potential disadvantages to implicit bias training. They include loss of trust and increased suspicion within an organization, more impersonal and uncomfortable interactions among members of different groups, and compensatory measures aimed at promoting particular groups at the expense of merit-based decisionmaking.

Professor Mitchell’s case against implicit bias training is bolstered by this op-ed in today’s Washington Post by Marilyn Singleton, a black physician. Singleton is “appalled” by the requirement in California, where she practices medicine, that all physicians in the state take implicit bias training — 50 hours of it every two years as a condition of retaining one’s medical license.

She explains:

The malignant false assumption that Black people are inherently inferior intellectually has been traded in for the malignant false assumption that White people are inherently racist. That is the basic message conveyed by “implicit bias training,” which is now mandatory for California physicians; it is a message that I believe is harmful both to physicians and patients. . . .

Think about the message this mandate sends to Black physicians. It suggests that I should be wary of my White colleagues because, after all, they’re biased against people like me. Sure, they can undergo frequent training, but their bias is always going to be there, beneath the surface, threatening to rear its ugly, racist head. Collegiality and collaboration — two essential components of high-quality medical care — are targeted by this mandate. Call that an implicit bias. . . .

The message to physicians is bad enough, but the message to patients is much worse. Black people are, in effect, being told that White physicians are likely to quite literally damage our health. If that’s the case, why on earth would you seek medical care, unless you could be absolutely certain of not being treated by a White physician? And if you do seek medical care, why wouldn’t you doubt every word from a White doctor who is inherently prejudiced against you?

The messages conveyed by implicit bias training for doctors aren’t just harmful, they are false in Dr. Singleton’s experience:

Since I became a physician [in the 1970s], I have seen exactly one instance of racism in health care — and it was from a patient, not a fellow physician. As for my colleagues, I have been consistently impressed with the conscientious, individualized care they have provided to patients of every race and culture. When we all took our oath to “first, do no harm,” we meant it, and we live it. I can’t imagine spending my entire career thinking my peers can’t uphold that oath without constant racial reeducation.

She concludes:

The whole point of implicit bias training is to create better health outcomes for Black patients and others who might be the target of discrimination, but the opposite seems more likely. It fosters a climate of distrust and resentment that threatens to undermine the medical and moral progress I’ve seen over the decades. When I graduated from medical school, we were moving past the era of racial obsession and anger. Why are we going back to the days when race defined so many lives and dimmed so many futures?

One answer is that there’s money to be made from it. Implicit bias training is, as I said, a thriving industry.

The other answer is that it serves the non-financial interests of many on the left to foster the racial distrust and discord that bother Dr. Singleton and to deny that the racial progress she applauds is real. What better way to undermine our country?

And what better vehicle than “struggle sessions” sponsored by the nation’s schools, employers, and licensing agencies?


On anniversary of Ukraine invasion, Putin trying to change the subject?

Mrs. Arbel talked to a Russian immigrant friend of ours, who’d heard Putin/Poutine[*]/Vlad the Invader’s “state of the nation” speech.

Our friend said that there was surprisingly little discussion of the Ukraine invasion — aside from the usual ‘she made me hit her’ BS about the invasion being the West’s fault.

Instead, it was all about domestic issues, the economy, infrastructure etc. Lots of promises, with this soundtrack /sarc

The song’s title means “words, words”.

One Russian MP from Samara (named Kuibyshev in Soviet days [**]) generated headlines by watching the speech with noodles hanging off his ears (in Russian culture, implying the speaker is full of “it”).


Mikhail Abdalkin MP (photograph from the article). How predictably, Putinistas are now calling for his arrest for treason. They sound like more threatening versions of certain Kachsucker politicians here — except they are dangerous there, merely pathetic here.

It would all be hilarious were it not for the tragic loss of 300,000 lives and counting.

Another song comes to mind:

… and silence speaks so much louder than words…

… of promises broken…

[*] This is the conventional rendering of his surname in French, but also the name for Canada’s (originally Québecois) dish of french fries, cheese curds and gravy. It’s also the first name of Canada’s wokemunist dic(k)tator, Poutine Castreau.

[**] when the Wehrmacht ‘s Army Group Center stood nearly at the gates of Moscow, part of the Soviet government apparatus was being moved to Kuibyshev as a fallback capital until Stalin [y”sh] declined to leave the capital.

The Jewish woman who infiltrated into the top of the Iranian regime

Amazing story in the Jewish Chronicle (an old and respected British Jewish community newspaper) https://www.thejc.com/news/news/how-i-infiltrated-the-tehran-regime-and-met-the-ayatollah-mSnPlFsr9MSVfzYDuPOVq

The unmarked car with tinted windows arrived to collect Catherine Perez-Shakdam from her Tehran hotel late in the afternoon. 

Dressed from head-to-foot in hijab and abaya, she was ushered into the rear seats between two female members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

She was being taken to meet Iran’s reclusive Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But she harboured a dangerous secret. Unbeknown to her escorts, she was a French-born Jew.


The meeting was part of an undercover odyssey through the heart of the Iranian regime in which the mother-of-two was taken into the confidence of the highest echelons of Iran’s theocratic dictatorship.

Photographs show her smiling beside Ebrahim Raisi — now Iran’s hardline president — and the-late Nader Talebzadeh, the propaganda filmmaker, dubbed “Iran’s Goebbels”.


A failed marriage to a Yemeni Muslim in 2000 – during which she had experienced vicious antisemitism from her husband’s relatives – had left her with opportunities to forge pro-Iranian connections.

She had written blog posts and Middle East analysis that had caught the eye of the Ayatollahs and led to an invitation to Tehran.


“Khamenei spent a few minutes on chit-chat,” she said. “Then he began talking about the End of Days, how he would be the one who would usher in the return of the Mahdi [the mythical leader who will herald the apocalypse].

“His voice was quiet, high-pitched. He talked about this great war that would take place, and how al-Aqsa had to be liberated for the Mahdi to return to save humanity. He talked about the wars Iran was fighting in Yemen and Syria and how he had a divine mission. 

“He was basically trying to justify crimes against humanity, saying you had to harm the enemies of God, who shouldn’t be seen as human beings. 

“He said killing the innocent was OK, because they weren’t really innocents.

“A mistake we make is to assume he cares about his country. He doesn’t. He will literally see it burn if it means Islam will triumph.”

She said Khamenei seemed scared of only one thing — an Israeli attack. “He believes Netanyahu’s threats and he knows that, for now, Israel is militarily superior. And he feels that the Iranian regime can’t sustain a defeat.”

Read the whole thing.

[Yes, I’m alive — traveling back home before the Sabbath]

Ruling class gentry, er.. “elite” monoculture

Still traveling for work, but a few things I want to share with my gentle readers:

(A) Via Insty, two must-read posts on the ever more intellectually “inbred” character of our “elite” —- which is really a gentry, not an elite.



An actual elite, however insufferable it might be otherwise, would be competent (and people would grudgingly put up with it). The current products of elite “finishing schools” clearly are not delivering the goods — and this is compounded by the ever more complex and chaotic nature of our world.

One defense the gentry invokes ad nauseam (ad nazium?) in response to criticism is frivolous accusations of fascism on ever flimsier grounds. In today’s Telegraph I read that in Britain, some derpseals are now claiming that one sign of far-right sympathies might be interest in Shakespeare (!), in classic war movies like The Dam Busters (er, just who were the bad guys in hat movie?!) and, hold on to your chair… “1984”.

I am speechless. More here:


Note that the UK’s government is nominally “conservative” 😉 Kudos however to Home Secretary Suella Braverman to call the “counterterrorism” effort to order for “casting too wide a net”.

Switching gears a little, some old school lefties have expressed concern (to me, in person) that all this corporate wokebaggery and DIEism are really smokescreens to cover and justify the ever greater supremacy of the corporate oligarchy. (In response, I drew their attention to Joel Kotkin’s neo-feudalism thesis, though at least one interlocutor had figured pretty much the same on their own.)

(B) Our constitutional crisis in Israel over the Supreme Court must be seen to some extent in this light. It’s not all black and white —- it used to be that nearly all of our Supreme Court judges shared the same left-liberal-secular worldview, but several recent appointments (e.g., Noam Solberg, Alex Stein) have broken that mold. And our Supreme Court is basically not answerable to anyone. The “remedy” being offered by the hotheads in Netanyahu’s coalition —- turning it into a lapdog of the government — is even worse than the ailment; not even people like myself who see some reform as inevitable want to see this implemented. But the resentment of the uniquely lofty position of our SC is related to some degree to (A).

Our court system and law enforcement apparatus are clearly dysfunctional, with unconscionably long waiting times and sometimes bizarre rulings that seem to care more about the rights of criminals than about those of law-abiding citizens.

(c) A quip by a US professor (an old-school liberal my age) about historically religious universities cutting ties with their mother churches: “Oh, but US universities are very religious these days—- it’s just a different religion” 😉

Another one bites the dust: Nicola Sturgeon; Julie Burchill on woke misogyny

(A) so after Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon too bit the dust. This article in The Spectator credits UK Prinr Minister Rishi Sunak – I frankly am not a huge fanboy, but maybe the writer has a point.

“Sunak never gave the SNP leader grounds to caricature him as an arrogant Sassenach” (Scots for Englishman, literally “Saxon”)


Julie Burchill, not exactly a Tory, explains why she’s glad to see the back of Sturgeon


(B) and elsewhere she laments the misogynistic character of our era – not despite wokebaggery but in large part because of it


ADDENDUM: https://www.city-journal.org/jacina-ardern-and-nicola-sturgeon-make-their-exit

Engineer quits Google, says company has become a bureaucra(p)tic corporate dinosaur

Still on the road and working like crazy. Just one big story:



The way I see it, Google has four core cultural problems. They are all the natural consequences of having a money-printing machine called “Ads” that has kept growing relentlessly every year, hiding all other sins.

(1) no mission, (2) no urgency, (3) delusions of exceptionalism, (4) mismanagement.

Seshadri used to work at Microsoft from 1999-2011, so he says, “this is not my first experience watching the gradual decay of a dominant empire.” Today, Seshadri says that “very few Googlers come into work thinking they serve a customer or user,” focusing instead on “a closed world where almost everyone is working only for other Googlers.” The post says that “risk mitigation trumps everything else” at Google, echoing a 2021 New York Times article saying CEO Sundar Pichai built “a paralyzing bureaucracy” while running the company.

Former Waze CEO Noam Bardin quit Google in 2021 and, in a blog post, said that employees aren’t incentivized to build Google products. “The product is a tool to advance the employees’ career,” Bardin wrote, “not a passion, mission or economic game changer. Being promoted has more impact on the individuals’ economic success than the product growth. The decision of which product to work on stems from the odds of getting promoted, and thus we began onboarding people with the wrong state of mind—seeing Waze as a stepping stone and not as a calling.” Bardin shared Seshadri’s post on LinkedIn recently, too, adding: “The problem is that no one cares as long as the stock is going up.”


A friend of mine who used to work as an engineer at Boeing told me that company started going downhill when the focus changed from building great airplanes to “generating value for stockholders”.

“What have you gained, if you have won the whole world but lost your soul?” may be a quotation from Christian scripture. But it encapsulates a secular truth as well: an organization that has forgotten its purpose may even see profit or market valuation increase in the short term — but eventually it will become a parody of itself.

Speaking of losing one’s soul: I was asked to peer-review a manuscript paper in an Elsevier journal yesterday —- with a twist. When I agreed (since the subject matter was within my expertise) I was asked to… complete a “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion qustionnaire”. The staff can now go look up on Wikipedia what this obscure ethnic minority group I declared membership in is…the Ghoffaqyoussef….

ADDENDUM: California tax revenue is down 42% year-over-year, state income tax 50%. Who is John Galt? https://instapundit.com/569990/

Israel update: massive protests in Jerusalem against Supreme Court “reform” plans; President Herzog trying to broker a compromise based on a 5-point plan; judicial committee passes, goes to Knesset for 1st reading; “reform” architects offer to meet with opposition heads, who set a freeze of the plans as a precondition

Am in work up to over my ears, but the above is a quick summary of where we are. Yariv azijnpisser Levin, Simcha saletjonker Rothman et al. Are about as popular at Casa Arbel as a herd of locusts.

More updates probably later.

ADDENDUM: Analysis by Herb Keinon


On Sunday night, in his address to the nation, President Isaac Herzog placed a ladder alongside those trees for those looking for a way down. That “ladder” took the form of a five-point plan for judicial reform that would form the basis of negotiations.Some folks started to move toward that ladder on Sunday night and Monday morning, thereby rustling some of those leaves.Not everyone, and not in one fell swoop. For instance, Herzog called for a halt in the legislative process, an appeal Rothman ignored when he went ahead with the twin votes in his committee. But still, there was some slow movement.Rothman himself made a rustling noise, saying before the meeting that “the gaps that exist between the president’s opening outline and the drafts of the bill I submitted, or the outline presented by [Justice] Minister [Yariv] Levin, are not negligible, but they are not that large either.”Rothman reiterated his opposition to stopping the legislative process, but he said it was possible to hold a dialogue under Herzog’s auspices from now until the law’s first reading in the Knesset, which is expected next Monday. A dialogue can also be held between the first and second readings as well. Rothman called on Supreme Court President Esther Hayut to join the dialogue with representatives of the opposition.Opposition leader Yair Lapid also made a rustling noise in the branches when he responded to Herzog’s speech by saying that the president’s proposal was “worthy” and that his five points should be the basis for negotiations. He added, however, that halting the legislative process was a condition for dialogue.No, the speech did not lead to the type of immediate result Herzog might have hoped for. As a result of Herzog stepping out of the purely ceremonial role of the president and deep into the most divisive moment in Israel since the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Rothman did not heed the president’s appeal and call off Monday’s vote in his committee, nor did Lapid call on the organizers of Monday’s protests to call off their demonstrations. No, the speech was not that dramatic, nor was the delivery that powerful.What it did achieve, however, was to get some people to begin loosening up on their all-or-nothing positions and talk about talking.If the sides are willing to talk, why go through with the vote in the Knesset committee on the one hand? Why not freeze the legislative process? And if the sides are willing to talk, why not call off the protests in an effort to create a better atmosphere?

Why not? Because both sides have a fear of being played.

The Right, Levin and Rothman are not going to call off the process out of a fear that if they do, then their moves toward judicial reform will just get buried in committee and nothing will move forward. There is a precedent for this, as proposals in the past by former justice ministers, when faced with vigorous pushback from the judicial establishment, died in committee discussions.Rothman and Levin are keen on setting the ball in motion legislatively, even if they are willing to discuss the proposals under the auspices of Herzog and, ostensibly, make changes in the reform before it comes for a second and third reading. But this time they want to prove that things are different and that they will not let the reform die in committee.


Herzog offered a way down the tree for those looking for one. There are zealots on both sides not interested in a way out. But amid Monday’s cacophony, there were also nascent signs that some were, and this constituted a silver lining in an otherwise gloomy sky.


Former Mossad chief (and close Netanyahu confidante) Yossi Cohen urges compromise on Supreme Court “reform”

Among Binyamin Netanyahu’s many talents is an unrivaled capacity of alienating his closest confidantes. (People who are less “plugged in” to Israeli politics than I am may not realize that opponents like Naftali Bennett, Gideon Saar, Avigdor Lieberman, Moshe Ya`alon, … and former Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit all were once close confidantes of the man, and Lieberman and Mandelblit actually both served as his bureau chiefs earlier in their careers.

Now another close confidante, former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, is joining the chorus of opponents to a hasty, wholly-“baked” judicial castration “reform”. Together with a group of other former national security advisors (Yossi Cohen’s prior position) —- which includes the religious right-winger Yaakov Amidror, and again many of them were considered close to Netanyahu — he is calling for compromise lest the nation would otherwise be ripped apart. https://www.timesofisrael.com/former-mossad-chief-ex-national-security-aides-urge-compromise-on-judicial-shakeup/

Times of Israel also reports a Channel Two poll, according to which only 1 in 4 Israelis want the “reform” to proceed full bore, putting the lie to the claim that “this is the will of the majority”.


31% call for stopping the reform entirely; 31% say it should be delayed to enable a substantial dialogue; 24% want it to proceed fundamentally as proposed; and the remaining 14% has no opinion. Among supporters of the current coalition government [!] opinions are evenly split. If this is an electoral mandate, I am Pope John-Paul III.

Also, there was another massive protest in Tel Aviv tonight (I am traveling for work). Judging from what I’ve seen, this quickly ceased to be a left-wing phenomenon and is now a broad coalition of secular, traditional, religious; of left, center, and moderate right.

A thought occurred to me as I spoke to a colleague and longtime friend who knows full well I’m not on the left.

If, under public pressure, the prosecution would let Netanyahu go with a relative slap on the wrist, he would likely lose whatever interest he is now feigning in these misbegotten “reforms”. He’s just shown that he has no problem quashing a law his coalition partners want — in this case, the execrable and asinine law criminalizing non-Orthodox prayer services at the Western Wall — if he realizes it will cause great damage (in this case, to our relations with Diaspora Jewry). The moment he no longer needs the “reform” to keep himself out of prison or forced retirement from politics, I sus[ect his interest in this “reform” will be history.

Jordan Peterson interviews Prof. Judith Curry about climate change: “the models are OK, the predictions are wrong”.

Until she took early retirement, Judith Curry was a full professor of climate science at Georgia Tech. She was ostracized by her peers not for suddenly become “a climate denier” (she still believes to this day there is a significant anthropogenic component to climate change) but for having the temerity to try and engage with skeptics (e.g. via her blog “Climate, Etc.) — and thus “breaking the wall of consensus”.

She is currently running a climate forecasting consultancy firm — her corporate clients want realistic predictions of, e.g., what is going to happen with their windmills in coastal zones.

Unlike many of her former colleagues, she appears to be truly interested in finding out what is really going on.

Check out this fascinating long interview with Jordan Peterson.

She points as the major flaw in all the climate models, until recently, completely sidestepped natural factors such as volcanic eruptions (which cause cooling) or solar output variations (which can go either way). She says there are more recent studies that do include these effects, and they predict either much milder warming or sometimes even outright cooling. She points out, by the way, that even the small print of the 6th IPCC Assessment Report acknowledges these studies, but they are played down while the “ZOMG catastrophe” predictions are hyped up.

She says that ten years ago, graduate students in the field would have to look for postdoc positions; now, they are being hired away left and right by media organizations and think tanks and corporations. She has no good words for the way the media machinery and politicized academics egg each other on in a self-reinforcing feedback loop, whipping up hysteria and fear in the process.

And yes, she has a lot to say about “Climategate”, which I covered extensively on this blog at the time (e.g. here: ClimateGate update: “Noble cause corruption” edition).

Watch the whole thing — it’s a very good summary of where things stand vis-a-vis climate.

Huge: Tennessee divesting itself of federal K-12 education funding; former Israeli AG on judicial “reform”: “this is purely Netanyahu trying to bring his corruption cases to an improper end”

(A) This is huge that it is even being considered: Roger Simon (via Insty) reports that an entire US state is looking to divest itself of Federal K-12 education funding, because they no longer wants the strings that come attached (primarily of the DEI-BS variety ;))


(B) Meanwhile in Israel; in a wide-ranging interview aired last night on Channel 12’s “Uvda” [literally: “fact”] program, former attorney-general Avichai Mandelblit —- a religious right-leaning Jew who used to be a close confidant of Netanyahu, serving as his cabinet secretary 2013-2016 [do you see a pattern there? Israeli politics is filled with “former” Netanyahu confidants whom he screwed over or discarded the moment they had outserved their usefulness to Bibi] —- says the proposed “judicial overhaul” will destroy the legal system, and is aimed purely at “bringing Netanyahu’s corruption trials to an improper end”.


There will be ‘our people’,” he said of the nature of appointments to the legal system should the government’s reform package be passed.

“There will be ‘people who we appoint.’ They will have personal loyalty to the ruler, personal loyalty to the minister, not to the state. That is the most dangerous thing that can happen. That is not democracy,” he continued.[…]

Mandelblit also rejected Netanyahu’s claims that he and his party had stated clearly in the election campaign that they intended to carry out such a radical overhaul of the legal and judicial system.

“The elections were not about this. No one said they were going to change the values of the Declaration of Independence during the election campaign… If the legal system is not independent then it’s a different form of government, it’s a different type of regime; no one went to the elections over this, no one said anything like it,” he continued.

“If you want to improve the legal system, then fine, improve it. But this is not improving it, this is destroying it.”

Mandelblit also claimed that the timing of the planned judicial shake-up, combined with Netanyahu’s previous position on the judiciary, indicated that the corruption trial was a key motivating factor for the prime minister.

“The Netanyahu that I knew was for certain a defender of the legal system, it came from an inner place,” he said.

“There is one thing that everyone should ask, because it’s nothing new that these [judicial overhaul proposals] are the position of Yariv Levin,” he said. “The question everyone needs to ask is why was he [Levin] appointed to the position [of justice minister] now? My estimation and opinion is that Netanyahu wants to bring about a situation in which his trial does not come to an end in a proper manner.” […]



And in a “race to the bottom” to see who is our most loathsome MK, Simcha Rothman now calls for “arresting and imprisoning” Mandelblit for “incitement”/hasata. [Yes, we have a law against this on the books —- a holdover from the British Mandate.]


This is not the first time such calls are made, and as usual nothing will come of it — but it should tell you what “quality” of people are pushing this judicial emasculation, er, “reform” dreck.

Pink Floyd and the Gilmour-Waters spat: even crazier than I thought

I’m traveling for work, so have only very limited time to blog, but if you’re a current or former Pink Floyd fan, go read Ed Driscoll’s roundup of the latest antics of Wankers, er, Waters, and the furious response of David Gilmour and his wife and lyricist Polly Samson.


I hadn’t followed Rutger Wassermann’s latest antics, so I hadn’t realize he’d progressed from insane Israel-bashing and anti-Americanism to becoming an apologist for Putin as well as Xi Jinping. Not to mention, dismissing the well-documented history of oppression and (during the Mao years) man-made famine of the CCP regime as “bollocks”, claiming the US has a human rights record “ten times worse than any other country” (does that include Israel now, wacko?) etc. Etc.

All this comes on the background of attempts to sell the rights to the band’s back catalog for an eye-watering 500 million dollars. As Driscoll explains, many aging rock and pop stars sell their entire catalog as a form of estate planning, and music companies see these catalogs as a steady, durable source of income. (This is especially true in an era where the new “talent” is either musical empty calories, or operates indie.) There is speculation that Waters’s latest antics may jeopardize the deal for the other two surviving band members, Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason, as well as for the estate of keyboardist Richard Wright.

A sad footnote is that Pink Floyd was HUGE in Israel, bigger than the Beatles, and still has a large following. The dreamy side of their music speaks to a certain kind of Israeli soul — interestingly, their hyper-technical opposite pole in the progressive rock genre, Dream Theater, has a smaller but rabid following here as well. (Full disclosure: I’m a fan of both. And if you want a more contemporary Pink Floyd-type atmosphere, you should definitely check out Porcupine Tree or the solo work of bandleader — and producer extraordinaire — Steven Wilson.)

My loathing for Waters as a person has not made, and will not make, me discard my Pink Floyd collection. I’ve always seen Gilmour as the true soul of the band though, since long before the current fracas started — and it’s a fact that the Gilmour-led band was able to record two more best-selling studio albums (A Momentary Lapse Of Reason and The Division Bell) while Waters’s solo work had nothing like the same impact.

One of PF’s best-known albums, Wish You Were Here, was one long tribute to their founding guitarist Syd Barrett who had fallen prey to mental illness. (Gilmour had originally been hired as backup, as Barrett’s onstage behavior and performance became too erratic.) I hate to say it, but he may have been saner than what Waters has become.

Two voices from The Tablet: Gil Troy, “Israeli democracy is fine, thanks for asking”; Michael Lind on “The power-mad utopians” in America

We were woken up by what felt like an earthquake — turns out we were on the fringes of a 7.8 earthquake with its epicenter in Turkey, near the Syrian border and the Mediterranean. A water pipe burst in our building; no other reports of damage.

Being unable to get back to sleep, I started perusing the Jewish online magazine The Tablet (not to be confused with the Jesuit publication I remember) often has interesting long reads. Here are two voices from the broad center:

(A) Gil Troy, “Israeli democracy is fine, thanks for asking”


If you want to judge Israel’s democracy by its constitution, you can’t. Israel has no constitution. Popular mythology blames religious Zionists for insisting the Torah already was the Jewish constitution. But religious Zionists lacked much political power in 1948. It was Israel’s founding prime minister who refused to distract the year-old, fragile country with a divisive constitutional debate. David Ben-Gurion advised: “We should emulate the British People, who have deep democratic instincts, yet no constitution.”

These days, Israelis are more apt to emulate the American people than the British—for better and worse. It has become cliché to accuse Benjamin Netanyahu of “mirroring” Donald Trump’s behavior, to deem them both “right-wing nationalists” or “illiberal democrats” who thrive on “incitement, fear and hate”—even as some of Bibi’s judicial reforms seek to mirror the way that the judiciary functions in the United States.

The anti-Netanyahu assault that began with his Nov. 1 victory has followed the anti-Trump resistance playbook to a T. It began with hysterical cries that a democratically achieved election result threatened democracy. It built, during the transition, with blistering condemnations of the government-in-formation, even before it implemented any policies. It drew clear red lines, which sought to use the sanction of professional guilds and associations, along with social affiliations among the professional class, to create the appearance of unanimity among those who believe their opinions matter more than others: Either you repudiated Bibi’s dictatorship-to-be or found yourself repudiated by your peers. And now, it continues with the mass demonstrations boosted by periodic petitions of 100 self-selected “experts” here and 500 there—economists, business leaders, national security analysts—all predicting catastrophe. The parallels are eerie. It’s an attempt at an Israeli color revolution, built on the American resistance model.

Israelis beware. No country should use America today as a model for how to debate constructively and democratically. America is a democracy in crisis. All-or-nothing, do-or-die partisanship—from both extremes—encourages totalitarian thinking and a politics of “do it to them before they do it to you.” Such polarization makes it harder and harder to achieve the kind of compromise that Israel requires, and that all healthy democracies seek.


In his 2011 book, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit, [Parker] Palmer […] urges Americans to examine their “habits of the heart,” the way they interact with one another. He teaches that a healthy democracy needs “five interlocked habits.” Citizens must understand “that we are all in this together.” We need to appreciate “the value of ‘otherness,’” respecting genuine diversity of thought, of behavior, of political philosophy—as well as of tribe, or color, or heritage. We need to be able to juggle contradictions and cope with the messiness of life, or what Palmer calls the ability to “hold tension in life-giving ways.” Leveraging our rights, we need “a sense of personal voice and agency”—Natan Sharansky and Ron Dermer call this the Town Square Test: Namely, can you denounce the government in public freely, without being punished? Finally, Palmer notes, healthy citizens need the “capacity to create community.”

Trust is the essential lubricant for all these habits. America’s epidemics of rioting, crime, cancel culture, humorlessness, election denial, online bullying, and loneliness are all symptoms of its exploding trust deficit. For all their challenges, Israelis still live in a small, intimate society that runs on trust—and keeps generating more and more in a virtuous cycle. Israel has held five free and fair elections in three years, followed repeatedly by peaceful transitions with no losers challenging the results. The ethereal threads keeping Israelis more or less together are a national treasure that both left and right should be actively nurturing, not sabotaging.

Parker Palmer reminds us of Alexis de Tocqueville’s lesson that democracy is a state of mind, not just the way to run a state. It is most defined by the songs of the street, the way people live, think, and argue day-to-day. From a historical perspective, Israel today is more stable, democratic, and respectful of its citizens, individually and collectively, than ever before in its history. America could stand to emulate its example.


Tocqueville identified strong family values as the backbone of a healthy democratic society. Family inculcates a sense of loyalty, proportion, commitment, self-sacrifice and love. Belonging to communities—extended families—teaches citizens to care for others, and to cooperate even with those who look or think a little different. The Neve Yaakov massacre included a DJ motorcycling to work on the Sabbath, a sexton who ran services in his synagogue, and a sweet 14-year-old religious boy.

Living in what Zionism’s founding philosopher Theodor Herzl called Altneuland, “Old-New Land,” most Israelis still want to learn from the past—while creating an exciting high-tech future. Three-quarters of Israeli Jews lit Chanukkah candles all eight nights this year, and many suffered through the holiday traffic together during the week off.

Most Israelis appreciate rituals as pathways to enduring wisdom, guiding values, more meaningful living, and the supportive communities most humans seek. Walk around Israel on late Friday afternoons, as Muslims freely enjoy their holy day and Jews prepare for their day of rest. The calm you feel, the quiet you hear on so many streets, is broadly embraced and culturally cultivated, not dictated by the state.

On a lighter note, for all the headaches Israelis face, most still share a remarkable ability to laugh at themselves—political correctness and the Israeli sense of humor don’t mix.

Governments often act like speedboats, especially in a volatile parliamentary system like Israel’s. They can veer quickly, as Israel’s just did, from a left-to-right coalition including Arab partners to a right-wing, religiously dominated government. But democratic culture is more like an ocean liner: stable, stately, slow to change, and impressively resilient.

I share Gil Troy’s optimism to some extent — then again, I’m a “worried optimist” by nature. Where some see “Hungarization” and others see “a color revolution”, I increasingly see a maximalist opening bid clashing with massive (and necessary!) pushback, which (I hope) will end with much milder (but necessary) reforms to an unsustainable “business as usual”.

Incidentally, despite the perception of our Supreme Court as a bastion of the secular “enlightened” left, one of my friends pointed out that in recent years a number of right-leaning judges (such as Noam Solberg and Alex Stein) have been appointed to it — particularly during the 2015-2019 tenure of Ayelet Shaked as Justice Minister.

(B) Across the pond, Michael Lind, whose thinking has elements of the old labor union left and the populist right, laments what he calls “the power-mad utopians” imposing a revolution from above on his country.


He starts off with a blistering critique of a very different kind of utopianism, that of the George W. Bush years — and in doing so, sounds like the late lamented Jerry Pournelle with whom he would likely agree on precious little where it comes to policy.

But then he strikes a very different note.

Today, the threat of utopian politics comes from the radicalized center-left, not from the radicalized center-right. The term “progressivism” was revived in the 1980s and 1990s by Clintonite “Third Way” Democrats to distinguish their business-and-bank-friendly version of the center-left from the older New Deal farmer-labor version. But by the 2020s, “progressivism” came to mean something quite different—a commitment to utopian social engineering projects even more radical than those envisioned by the crackpot Bush-era neocons, libertarians, and religious right.

Three social engineering projects define progressivism in the 2020s: the Green Project, the Quota Project, and the Androgyny Project.

The Green Project is not limited to mitigating global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by industry and energy production. By itself, decarbonization is a technical project that can be carried out by methods like building nuclear power plants and replacing coal with natural gas in electrical generation.

The Green Project or Green New Deal is not satisfied with decarbonizing energy sources. It invokes climate change as an excuse to radically restructure the society of the U.S. and other advanced industrial democracies, from the way that food is grown to where people live to how people behave. Under the banner of the Green New Deal or the Green Transition, various lesser ideological projects on the left—veganism, replacing cars and trucks with mass transit, urban densification, anti-natalism—have rallied, even though none of these is necessary for decarbonizing the energy supply.

The Quota Project, embodied in the rote bureaucratic phrase “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI), is another utopian project. Its goal is the radical restructuring of the U.S. and other Western societies on the basis of racial quotas, so that all racial and ethnic groups are represented in equal proportions in all occupations, classes, academic curriculums, and even literary and artistic canons. DEI is affirmative action on LSD.

For the Quota Project, anti-racism is the public justification. But quota-based tokenism is not a solution for specific cases of discrimination against individuals—which can and should be dealt with by race-neutral, anti-discrimination laws. Nor does the Quota Project have any real solutions to offer in the case of class or cultural differences which—even in the absence of racism, conscious or “structural”—would result in some groups doing better than others in various occupations. Like the Green Transition, the Quota Project is a radical utopian program of social reconstruction in search of an excuse that might justify it.

The third of the three utopian projects that define contemporary trans-Atlantic progressivism is the Androgyny Project. This goes far beyond civil rights and humane treatment for victims of gender dysphoria and has nothing to do with the hard-won rights of gay men and lesbians. The Androgyny Project holds that gender identity is independent of biological sex and purely subjective. If a middle-aged man claims that he is a woman, then progressives favor requiring local government to retroactively falsify his birth certificate to show that he was “really” born female and “misassigned at birth.”

Far more comprehensive than “trans rights,” which affect fewer than 1% of the population, the Androgyny Project seeks to redefine all male and female human beings as generic, androgynous humanoids whose sex is a matter of subjective self-definition rather than objective reality.


Like all utopian social engineering projects, the Green Project, the Quota Project, and the Androgyny Project are at odds with reality and are doomed to fail. The Green Project is doomed by physics and engineering. Today 80% of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels. […] The Quota Project is doomed by its own internal contradictions.  […] The Androgyny Project, for its part, is bound to crash against reality in the form of human biology. I predict that in a generation the “progressive” policy of so-called “gender-affirming health care” will be viewed in hindsight the way the prescription of lobotomies and chemical castration as cures for homosexuality in the 1950s is viewed today. […]

An obvious question arises: If these utopian projects are so inherently at odds with reality, then how can widespread elite support for them in any given era be explained?

The answer, in the case of today’s progressivism as well as various ideological manias of the past, is a combination of cowardice, careerism, and cash.

Cowardice: Nobody on today’s center-left wants to be ostracized for pointing out that solar and renewable energy cannot power an industrial civilization with 7 or 8 billion people. In the same way, no Soviet scientist in Stalin’s USSR wanted to be the first—or even the second or third—to point out that Comrade Lysenko’s theories about the inheritance of acquired characteristics were wrong.

Careerism: DEI provides lots of lucrative jobs, fellowships, HR positions, deanships, professorships, foundation grants, and corporate gifts. Similarly, the open-ended global war on terror/global democratic revolution paid for a lot of mansions, cars, vacations, 401K contributions, and expensive private school tuitions for various government and nonprofit apparatchiks in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and elsewhere.

Cash: Prophets are followed by profiteers. When the prophets of “antiracism” demand reparations for African Americans, what they really mean, explain the profiteers, are government subsidies for historically African American universities, businesses, and nonprofits—that is, indirect subsidies for African American professional and managerial elites, not the African American working-class majority. When Green zealots declare that climate change is an emergency that requires warlike mobilization, what they really mean, the profiteers tell us, is that the tax code should subsidize private investors in solar and wind plants that are set up to take advantage of those subsidies as well as guaranteed purchases by electric utilities. When radical androgynists insist that gender is fluid, they create new business opportunities for great numbers of self-appointed gender experts, online influencers, diversity consultants, and the pharma companies and surgeons in the medical-industrial complex who profit from private and public insurance payments for “gender-affirming health care.” Apocalypse in the streets, lobbying in the sheets.

All three of these progressive utopian projects—the Green Project, the Quota Project, and the Androgyny Project—will ultimately fail. Of that we can be certain. But we don’t have to wait for them to collapse of their own contradictions and from collisions with recalcitrant reality. Before they can do further damage, we need to stop them in their tracks.


It took a broad-based coalition of liberals, social democrats, and populist conservatives to thwart the utopians of the Bush era center-right, and it will take an equally broad and varied coalition to block the insane social engineering projects of the Biden era center-left.

As the progressive juggernaut crashes through the institutional landscape of American society, it is creating ever-growing numbers of angry or frightened refugees—not merely conservative and libertarians and populists, but also former progressives who simply will not pretend that men can get pregnant, along with pro-industry socialists who reject the pastoralism of the wind-and-solar Green fanatics.

The immediate necessity in American politics is to reject partisan and ideological purity tests in order to form the largest possible anti-progressive front—one that will include militant Enlightenment atheists and Orthodox Jews and Ayn Rand libertarians and Trad Caths, pre-2010 neoliberals and old-fashioned labor liberals and reactionary paleoconservatives, small businesses and big businesses threatened by harmful Green New Deal energy policies, left-liberal professors who do not want to sign diversity statements and nuns in Catholic hospitals who refuse to pretend that men are women and women are men.

By its nature, a broad anti-progressive front must include Democrats as well as Republicans and independents. Although the Democratic Party has been hijacked and turned into the primary vehicle for progressive zealots, many Democratic politicians and most Democratic voters do not share these views. To date, sensible Democrats have been shamefully silent. 


That will have to change. The struggle to break the power of the new utopian progressivism must be a struggle within the Democratic Party to reclaim the power now held by a small cadres of well-organized and well-financed progressive radicals. Freed from a forced association with Green lunatics, anti-racist lunatics, and androgynist lunatics, tomorrow’s center-left might focus again on sensible real-world projects like raising wages and increasing economic security for all.

Once the progressive juggernaut has been first slowed and then stopped and stripped for parts, former members of the anti-progressive front may well fall out among themselves, as members of victorious defensive coalitions often do. Yes, there is a danger that following the defeat of radical progressivism, the default option might be Clinton-Bush economic neoliberalism. But a restoration of pre-woke, fin de siècle free market neoliberalism would be temporary, because it no longer inspires anyone.

Violent resistance to today’s progressive revolutions from above must be ruled out, needless to say. But the diverse members of the anti-progressive front can and should use every peaceful method, from voting in elections to lawfare (litigation) to peaceful protest and satire, in order to frustrate, delay, damage, cripple, divert, stall, and ultimately topple and dismantle the three lumbering juggernauts of green lunacy, equity lunacy, and gender lunacy.


Speaking of not believing in ideological ‘purity tests’, this is as good an occasion as any to link to Solzhenitsyn’s classic essay, written on the eve of his 1974 arrest by the Soviet police, “Live Not By Lies”. From a very different angle, written in a different society, it strikes some of the same notes.


ADDENDUM: massive death and destruction from Turkey earthquake; IDF aid delegation on its way to Turkey; PM Netanyahu orders earthquake preparedness assessment

Whispered in Gaza, Part 3; Naftali Bennett speaks out; Kohelet Policy Forum chair on judicial reform.

(a) Times of Israel dropped the 3rd and final installment of the “Whispered in Gaza” series. More about the Ham-Ass [sic] reign of terror (up to and including throwing dissidents off tall buildings); how leaders manipulate the sheeple into violent confrontations with Israel while they themselves invest the money they extorted abroad, where they live — in Turkey or Qatar; how the population is deprived of any non-indoctrination entertainment in the name of Islam[ism] (going as far as to pour shut entrances of movie theaters with concrete);…

No, these aren’t “self-hating Arabs”, far from it. They want an independent existence — but are seeing increasingly that they won’t have one with the current theokleptocracy, The people interviewed realize that the faptasy [sic] the regime is peddling to them about ‘liberating Palestine from the Zionists’ is a pipe dream; that any liberated ‘Palestine’ run by the Ham-Ass would be nothing like the ‘Palestine’ they dreamt of; and that Israel is going nowhere and is here to stay.


(b) There were again massive demonstrations against the Supreme Court emasculation“reform”, and President Herzog urged a pause.

I spoke with somebody deeply plugged in to the national-religious “hard right” about the Supreme Court reform. Not even my interlocutor wanted the Supreme Court emasculation“reform” to pass as proposed, but he saw the reform proposals as a maximalist opening position for bargaining.

Moshe Koppel, chair of the Kohelet Policy Forum [NB: Kohelet is the Hebrew name for the book Ecclesiasites] defends the reform but proposes some changes,. https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/this-reform-will-end-limitless-power-for-unelected-elites/

(c) Former PM Naftali Bennett broke the silence with an extraordinarily long and wide-ranging interview (in Hebrew, with English subtitles).

Bennett acknowledges mistakes he made, explains how some of his more surprising decisions came to pass (such as the inclusion of a moderate Islamist party in his coalition, which he took very reluctantly after gradually taking the party leader’s measure and becoming convinced he was different), his meetings with foreign leaders (he was particularly impressed with the Egyptian strongman al-Sisi and his coping with the troubled legacy he received), his decision not to implement futher lockdowns once Omicron came about…

Speaking of the current government’s judicial overhaul plans and the intense opposition to them, Bennett expressed concern at the loss of dialogue over key matters.

“People are afraid of this. There is a real fear that the country is lost,” Bennett said, adding that he worried that “people will stop sending their children to [IDF] combat units” in protest.

Giving a piece of advice to the leaders of the current government, Bennett urged them “not to act power-drunk” since that would “backfire,” quoting Winston Churchill who said: “In defeat, defiance, in victory, magnanimity.”

“Be magnanimous. The members of the left aren’t enemies. They’re our people, our brothers. Don’t trample anyone, don’t be spiteful. What do you achieve by doing that? Do you want the high-tech [sector] and scientists to flee overseas?”