Saturday Reads

  • Richard Spencer reviewing the Sana’a, Yemen-based Tim Mackintosh-Smith’s Arabs — A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires in The Times (of London): “The word ‘politics’ derives from the Greek ‘polis’, a city, and represents a collective endeavour; siyasah, the standard Arabic translation, derives from a term for the training of camels and horses.”
  • “The glum philosopher star of Danish noir” — James Marriot reviewing Clare Carlisle’s new Søren Kierkegaard biography in The Times (of London).
  • The FT on Big Tech waking up to the market potential of video games and Google’s launch of its cloud gaming platform, Stadia, while Reed Hatings worries about Netflix being disrupted by Fortnite. Does the race to be the “Netflix for gaming” mean the death of the console is finally coming?
  • Solvitur ambulando — always golden nuggets to be found in the FT readers’ letters.
  • Tim Harford on the suicide of economist / happiness expert Alan Krueger. The Economist on Krueger’s research debunking the “myth” that increases in the minimum wage must necessarily lead to lower employment.
  • Wolfgang Schäuble lunching with the FT, reflecting on the assassination attempt he barely survived as Interior Minister a few days after reunification in 1990: “there’s a bang and everything changes” — implicitly drawing a chilling parallel to the 2015 decision to open Germany’s borders; “We failed to prevent [“Wir schaffen das”] being misunderstood throughout the world as a great business opportunity for human traffickers.” 
  • Semi-woke(?) science commentator Anjana Ahuja (is this a trend with the FT’s external reviewers?) not fully convinced by short new book on the Four Horsemen of New Atheism, summarising the quartet’s one and only meeting at Hitchens’ Washington apartment in 2007.
  • Jordan Peterson responding to Cambridge’s rescindment of Visiting Fellowship offer. Cambridge dropout Toby Young in The Spectator on the same.
  • Excerpt from Matt Taibi’s new book Hate Inc. on how most MSM commentators bought and promoted the Iraqi WMD narrative and has since “piled myths atop myths” to evade any responsibility for “selling the lie”.  Perhaps Taibi is a bit on the conspiratorial side, but it is certainly interesting how many of the journos who were so wrong on Iraq, from Tom Friedman and Max Boot to David Frum and Robert Kagan are still considered foreign policy Experts.
  • Buttonwood on the irrelevance of book value.

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