Weekend reading

Here we go again with suggestions for interesting reading from things that I’ve come across recently:

Jiayang Fan in the New Yorker has a long and fascinating profile of banned Chinese novelist Yan Lianke – wonderfully informative not just about him but about some deep and disturbing features of modern China.

Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution offers very sensible assessments of this year’s two winners of the Nobel Prize in economics, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer.

Peter Whiteford at the Conversation debunks the notion, recently promoted by Robert Carling at the CIS, that you can learn something important about the economy by looking at the percentage who are paying or not paying tax on a net basis.

Michael Savage in the Observer (the Sunday Guardian) analyses the changing basis of the British Labour Party’s support, finding that big cities have become increasingly important as it loses votes in traditional working-class areas.

Tanja Porčnik at Emerging Europe looks at the complex picture of civil and political liberties in central and eastern Europe, where there have been disturbing developments in recent years but also some less-publicised gains.

Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss, two decidedly right-of-centre commentators at the New York Times, criticise Israel’s detention of a Palestinian-American student, suggesting that the Netanyahu government is losing ground even among its traditional supporters.

Jonathan Rauch in a longish read at National Affairs discusses the epistemology of trolling, with particular reference to Donald Trump but with much wider implications.

An interview with Alan Jacobs in the Los Angeles Review of Books raises some fascinating questions about theology, and especially about the way “evangelical” has acquired a tribal meaning to supplant the religious one.

Rand Paul, quasi-libertarian Republican senator, argues in the Atlantic for the end of US military aid to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the apparent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mark Koyama at Liberal Currents reviews a recent book on nationalism and finds it deeply unsatisfactory, but in the process has some interesting things to say about the topic.

Christopher Browning in the New York Review of Books revisits the parallels between Trump’s America and Nazi Germany; I’m not sure that his understanding of the former really matches his expertise in the latter, but it’s well worth a read.

And on a lighter but still pointed note, there’s Harmony Cox at McSweeney’s with the launch of Matreon, the Patreon platform for emotional labor.

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