Foreign policy makes no sense

I found this interview with Jake Sullivan:

You may skip the first fifteen minutes.

There is also an accompanying transcript:

It’s worth watching for at least the nominal answers to questions like “what is the purpose of foreign policy? whom should it serve?” etc.

I found the Commandments cited interesting:

One, thou shalt employ common sense. Foreign policy is not rocket science.

Two, thou shalt understand power and use it. Power is power, not hard or soft, not smart or dumb. Through pressure and incentives, make others do what others do not want to do.

Three, thou shalt be wary of the soft power of love and the hard power of marshalled might. One is foreplay; the other is ancillary.

Four, thou shalt exorcise the demons of dogma, ideology, politics, and arrogance.

Five, thou shalt exalt the virtues of pragmatism, realism, moderation, and competence. Set priorities. Distinguish what is achievable and what is beyond reach. Aim for the former and manage the latter.

Six, thou shalt enshrine the precept of mutual indispensability. American leadership is summoned but not sufficient.

Seven, thou shalt ground policy in strategy, not fly by the seat of one’s pants. Strategy is a guide, not a straitjacket.

Eight, thou shalt learn from these masters: Truman, Marshall, and Acheson; Nixon and Kissinger; Bush Sr., Baker, and Scowcroft.

Nine, thou shalt recall the gospel that great nations ultimately perish from within, not without. Foreign policy originates at home. Invigorate America’s values and valuables with vigor.

And ten, thou shalt hark to Leslie Gelb’s clarion call that I quote: “For all America’s faults, don’t doubt that we remain the last best chance to create equal opportunity, hope, and freedom. But this will require something that has not happened in a long time: that pragmatists, realists, and moderates will unite and fight for their America.”

In particular number nine seems relevant to the current moment.

Finally, the title of this post comes from a phrase during the interview, elaborated as:

And he explained what he meant, that, essentially, a great deal of it is people making decisions without enough information with based on some ideology or in a bit of a bubble and then trying to catch up with events halfway around the world that they really don’t understand and then spending the rest of their lives defending their decisions about things that they really never believed in in the first place.

(Older) places to eat

While cleaning up old posts (more on which later …), I found this, and … it’s worth revisiting how these places come and go

  1. Vive Sol
  2. Curry pizza house
  3. State of mind pizzeria
  4. Pastis (closed)
  5. Rooh
  6. Dish dash
  7. “The bread pudding place” (Nick’s)
  8. Amber (closed)
  9. Napoletana pizzeria (deprecated, no gluten-free)
  10. La Panotique (closed)

Note: Presented in no particular order

Thoughts on a separate blog

I’ve gone back and forth on this — essentially separating the “personal updates” from “thoughts/opinions on various subjects”.

I almost went for it again, and thought of using Ghost for a new blog.

… but the tradeoff for the effort isn’t worth it, so I decided to continue with this one.

Monthly recap: April 2023

Matterhorn, viewed from where we were staying in Zermatt
Matterhorn, viewed from where we were staying in Zermatt

Major updates

A week in Switzerland

  • Zurich
  • Lucerne
  • Interlaken
    • Jungfrau and Harder Klum
  • Zermatt
    • Gornergrat
  • Glacier Express, then back to Zurich

Minor updates

  • AirBnB worked out well, two of these places
  • Cheese Fondue was a hit
  • A trip to the Tech Museum
  • Discovering San Mateo downtown
  • Playing around a lot with Midjourney


  • This time, watched more downloaded Youtube videos than in-flight movies (!)
  • Watched Fellowship of the rings
  • Watched Pink Panther (2006?)
  • Finished audiobook of book 5 of Wings of Fire
  • Watched the latest series by Adam Curtis, Trauma Zone
  • Watched a great series on the work of Rene Girard
  • Re-watched Wallace and Gromit

Treasure Island

It’s just one of those things.

I had borrowed an abridged copy of Treasure Island from the library to read at home (fwiw, didn’t go down that well, will possibly try again later, or … perhaps it’s just not relatable? Not sure)

Was wondering what movie adaptation s had been made, and sure enough, found several.

One from the 1950s, one more recent, several animated ones, and one from 1990. I watched the trailer for this last one.

The trailer called out that Charleston Heston was playing Long John Silver, but the kid playing Jim Hawkins looked strangely familiar.

Yep, it was a very young Christian Bale (!)

Grave Robbers from Outer Space

Watching vampire movies with Bela Lugosi
Watching vampire movies with Bela Lugosi

A had a strange experience w.r.t. in-flight videos recently.

I had queued up a few Youtube downloads to watch (much prefer the content there these days), but in the end thought I’d pick ONE movie to watch.

There were all the usual recent ones (e.g. Fabelmans), but next to this list was something intriguing that I’d never heard of: Ed Wood

I assumed I’d just missed its release (I’ve stopped keeping up with movies for some time now), but it looked intriguing, since it mentioned Tim Burton’s name — perhaps it was a new work he’d decided to come back to?

As I watched this, I recognized Jonny Depp — and then remembered how frequently he’d collaborated with Tim Burton, and that perhaps they’d got together again as a retro-throwback work after all these years; the movie being set in black-and-white added to this retro feeling too.

I then recognized Bill Murray and Sarah Jessica Parker, and thought — huh, what an odd cast, how different from the other movies they were in.

All of them looked so much younger— but I put this down to “great make up” or some sort of recent CGI effects applied to them.

I was sucked into the movie and wasn’t consciously aware of this, which gave the characters a feeling of strangeness — adding to the weirdly amazing script itself.

There’s a lot going on in it — the way Bela Lugosi was weaved into the story felt particularly throwback-to-cult-movies-ish and added that magic touch.

Towards the end I realized the movie they were making (in the movie; sorry, I’m making it sound more complicated than it is) was 1 2 Plan 9 from outer space !!

It turned out to be a true story (!) I was blown away and couldn’t help taking a few photos of scenes in the movie while I was watching it (see above).

A month later, today, I thought I’d check up when this was made, wondering how I missed it.

I looked at Tim Burton’s 3, thinking I’d see it in the recent work. I didn’t see it, thought I found the wrong

A quick IMDB search showed me: 1994 , or roughly thirty years ago!

All of this left me feeling like I’d been through an episode of the twilight zone.

All I can say is: go watch it.

  1. which has other meanings for some of us …
  2. The title of this post was the initial title of the movie
  3. While doing this, discovered he’s lent his creative influence to “Wednesday”, which explains why it has that feeling to it.

Defining movies

I randomly sub-tweeted this chain of “8 films to get to know me”

… and then realized that yes, I did list out movies that were “defining” for me in some sense.

You will learn a lot about me if you’ve watched these. In no particular order.