Weekend reading

Here’s some of what I’ve found of interest this week, and feel that you might too.


David Roberts at Vox explains, very lucidly, the controversy he generated by asking a question about “white people”. Essential reading for understanding the working of identity politics in the United States.

Dag Herbjørnsrud at Aeon explains the 1683 siege of Vienna in a way that dismantles some of the fantasies of Anders Breivik and his allies.

On more modern geopolitics, a Cato Institute paper by Patrick Porter raises some doubts about the nostalgic longing for the “liberal” (US-dominated) world order of the post-war era.

Herb reports on the likelihood that Mexico’s president-elect is open to addressing the country’s drug crisis by the obvious strategy of decriminalisation.

A very good study from the American Enterprise Institute on the rise of authoritarianism in Hungary and Poland, showing the fraudulent nature of “illiberal democracy” and why even conservatives shouldn’t sign up to it.

Two UTS professors report on the phenomenal growth of CEO remuneration, and on the complete lack of evidence that it’s related to any sort of merit (although I think they stress the race and gender angle too much).

And speaking of corporate amorality, there’s also the Intercept’s disturbing report on Google’s plans for advanced collaboration with Chinese censorship.

Also on the censorship front, Ben White explains carefully why criticism of Israel needs to be distinguished from antisemitism, and why the definition of the latter by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is problematic.

A tremendous interview in the Atlantic with James Loewen, who wrote Lies My Teacher Told Me, and who thinks American history teaching is still dangerously deficient. Australia is probably not far ahead.

Still on the US, Bloomberg has a fascinating graphical analysis of American land use. There too an Australian comparison would be really interesting.

And don’t miss Richard Cooke’s weekly dispatch at the Monthly, where he reports on the subjective experience of firing an AR-15 rifle. “It didn’t look like something to shoot a deer with, unless the deer was heavily armed and holed up in an Abbottabad compound.”

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