What have you been reading?

This weeks quotation:

“If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future”

Winston Churchill



It is a way to reward old friends and win new ones 

The America Alone policies of the last US administration created vacuums. If China and Russia now have more global influence and power, it is courtesy of ignorant foreign policy. This article provides another example of how China and Russia are taking advantage of the missing US presence to gain a foothold where Western influence is declining.  Extract:

Many have turned to China and Russia for help. A report published on April 28th by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of The Economist, shows how the two countries are filling a “vaccine vacuum” by helping poor economies secure doses. They have shipped millions of jabs to developing countries stuck at the back of the global queue.

The Economist – April 29, 2021

My most enduring memory was during a golden sunset in Jerusalem. A group of Palestinians had gathered to have a barbecue. When they saw our group, they called up to us to join them.


Managing the Conflict is No Solution 

The Trump / Netanyahu showtime peace agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco exposed for what they are. Shameless attempts to add to their respective election platforms. Did anyone seriously believe that those agreements were anything more than for election credentials. There is no Middle East peace without resolving the Palestinian question. Extract: 

Yet Israeli politicians ignore the conflict. The Palestinian issue did not feature in any of the four elections Israel has recently held. Most Israelis are comfortable with the “anti-solutionism” of Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, who shows little interest in pursuing a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. His domestic rivals are edging closer to a deal that would push him out of power. But, before the recent violence, they said little about how they would handle the conflict.

Palestinian leaders have made it easy for Israel to give up on peace. Hamas is more interested in firing rockets than improving the lives of Gazans. Its rival, Fatah, has not done much better in the West Bank. The party’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is in the 17th year of a four-year term as Palestine’s president. He seems concerned mainly with preserving his own power. On April 29th, blaming Israel for restricting voting in East Jerusalem, he indefinitely postponed elections that Fatah was likely to lose.

The New York Times newsletter of Tuesday, May 18 lays out the arguments that both sides are making in a succinct fashion. Follow its hyperlinks for more background. I like the applicability of the Churchill quotation above to this enduring conflict.

The Economist – May 12, 2021 

Norwegian Sunset


Atlantic Crossing on PBS 

This series tells the story of Crown Princess Martha’s lobbying efforts to obtain US assistance for Norway during World War II. The series spends a lot of time on the personal relationship between her and Franklin Roosevelt and infers that the relationship was intimate. Also, the program seems to credit Roosevelt with thinking up the Lend-Lease concept . It was, in fact, a Winston Churchill proposal from December 1940. 

I usually enjoy Masterpiece Theatre presentations. I keep waiting for Atlantic Crossing to improve but it doesn’t. It portrays FDR as a lazy, lascivious  man and Martha as, well, just blah! If anyone comes across well, it is Eleanor Roosevelt. 

We Should Know Better

August 26, 2023

I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]

Not in My Back Yard

August 4, 2023

Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor  in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]

Glasgow – That Dear Green Place

July 31, 2023

We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie  and Norry Wilson.  So,  we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]

Vienna on Top Again

June 25, 2023

Vienna on top again. This week both Monocle Magazine and The Economist unveiled their quality of life / most liveable city indexes. There are differences in the way each publication sets its index. So it is even more impressive that once again, Vienna tops both lists. I am a bit lazy today so rather than […]

Large interior courtyards

From Hot Bedding to Superblocks

June 20, 2023

Many Viennese went from hot bedding to superblocks overnight. Could they even imagine  an apartment complex 1000 metres long built along two streets with even more massive landscaped courtyards? Could they conceive of 1400 apartment units built to house 5000 people on 56,000 square metres or 38 acres of land.  Or a vertical build-out that […]

Vienna – the World’s Most Livable City

June 16, 2023

Vienna had been a poor city even before the First World War. “Normal” housing arrangements  meant six to eight people sharing one room and a kitchen. Then, in early 1919, just after the Armistice,  the cost of living tripled in two months. Bed lodgers could no longer afford their 8-hours a day in a shared […]